Big Interview

Further enhancing revenues with larger enterprises, carriers and OTTs

Tony Rossabi joined TierPoint four months ago as EVP and chief revenue officer, so Jason McGee-Abe caught up with him to find out his immediate goals in the role and how he aims to grow revenues at the US company

I first met Rossabi at our Miami-based Metro Connect event in February this year. It was a busy event and he was constantly in meetings or on the phone, but I managed to squeeze in half an hour into his schedule. We spoke extensively about demand for hybrid-multi cloud and digital services. A month or so later though, a source tipped me off that he had left Digital Realty and was set to embark on a new venture, one which we announced at ITW in May.

At the time, Jarrett Appleby, COO of Digital Realty, said about his departure: “He was ready for change, he has left to pursue other interests and we’re moving forwards.” It certainly is an industry of change as August has seen Digital Realty announce that Appleby will step down from the company, effective 15 September, “to pursue other opportunities”.

Rossabi has grabbed the opportunity to help drive TierPoint’s growth in the industry with both hands. He spent time integrating himself into the firm, going to the grass roots to “understand the environment by visiting every region and meeting our teams in operations, engineering, field services, and sales”. He did so to identify which areas “need to be supplemented or augmented and, more importantly, to spend regular time with our customer base”.

“The main areas of focus for me have been to immerse myself with the organisation, help develop a course of action – both organisationally and our go to market strategy - and the company’s new business plan,” says Rossabi.

Sales and service investment

Rossabi’s set himself timeframes for these areas: “the immediate, which is the first 90 days; the interim, which is until the end of the year; and the long-term, which is 2018 and beyond.”

A big remit of his new position is obviously being tasked with overseeing revenue growth, alongside managing the day-to-day operations of the firm’s sales organisation and contributing to strategic planning, so I ask him what types of areas he’s looked to address to increase revenues.

“Investing in our future and a significant net expansion of human resources that will help us further enhance service to clients and continue delivering a superior customer experience,” says Rossabi. TierPoint announced in early August that it is actively recruiting nearly 20 new positions in sales leadership, support, and related functions. All of which will ultimately report to Rossabi.

“What we realised was the sales team was too small and we needed to further develop it to accelerate the success already achieved in winning trust and confidence of a growing roster of client organisations.”

Among other positions, the company is recruiting three seasoned executives with deep industry experience, each to lead one of three divisions, covering the Western US, sales operations, and strategic sales. Sales SVP John Holland, a TierPoint veteran, will continue to lead the Eastern US sales division.  

Rossabi says that all this should be “up and running by December”. “We’re hiring some very senior executives, alongside support functions, but we want to get it right so we’ll spend time finding the right people,” he says. “I’m a big proponent of finding the right people as opposed to just filling positions.”

New revenue streams

Rossabi adds: “We’re continuing to invest in additional resources for renewals and a strategic accounts team. 

“This is an area that maintains our base revenues whilst simultaneously growing new revenues. So we’ve developed a team to focus on renewals and we’re also hiring a dedicated person to bring carriers into our facilities.”

The majority of TierPoint’s customer base today are mid-market enterprises, but “there’s a great opportunity for carriers to come in and offer diverse routes in and out of our facilities and offer their services which both parties, carriers and enterprises, will benefit from”.

“We’ve traditionally been focussed on mid-market enterprise but we’re growing to expand into three focal areas,” admits Rossabi. “These will be for over-the-top (OTT) providers, large enterprises and carriers.”

“We’ll continue to maintain our traditional focus but we’re going to develop these three specific business areas over the next six to eight months. We’ve developed a team that’ll be solely focussed on strategic business and as I said we’re in the midst of hiring for those roles.”

Amid video streaming, virtual reality, driverless cars, and the internet of things (IoT), data centre capacity demand is set to surge. Media and content companies will all need capacity in a growing array of secondary markets, so I ask Rossabi what how TierPoint’s strategy will evolve to address and support this need. “We’re well positioned with respect to our facilities in those edge markets,” he says. “What we need to do is to continue with our outreach to develop our communities of interest. IoT, media and content will continue to grow at a rapid pace.”

The question’s a timely one because he’s just read an article on the front page of the New York Times’ business section, which talks about this area. “The article is not IoT but content-specific and tech firms are making a push towards TV,” he explains. It’s targeting companies developing their own content. This is where a huge opportunity presents itself. “We want to capture that, avail ourselves of it and showcase that our facilities within these unique markets are well-positioned to carry that traffic. By bringing the carriers in and developing relationships with these specific providers is how we’re going to capture the market.”

Estimates put TierPoint revenues at around $370 million per year and “growth has been on par with our expectations”. “We have a healthy run rate and, with respect to our sales group, we continue to see a significant number of new logos and new monthly recurring revenues. We’re very pleased with where we’re headed.

Opportunities and challenges

“Our customer base is reasonably interested in growth outside the US and we have begun to explore partnerships,” says the Rossabi, who has 20 years’ experience in driving growth and innovation for tech and telecom enterprises.

“As we continue to receive more and more requests for Europe or other parts of the world, we will explore. We’re in conversations with a UK-based provider that has quite similar services to what we provide. At this juncture we haven’t finalised this but we’re definitely exploring how we can support our customers’ needs outside the US.”

The data centre market continues to grow and prosper at record levels and most of the public real estate investment trusts (REITs) are recording exceptional statistics in growth. There are public cloud players out there, but Rossabi says “there’s a definite need for the all-encompassing data centre and hybrid IT provider”. 

“Our suite of services is quite extensive in terms of security, hybrid IT, and our managed services. We have a robust offering and it will enable us to spend more time with OTTs and carriers. We’re flexible in terms of the offerings we’re able to provide and tailor to our customers’ needs.” Rossabi says it’s imperative to keep in mind traffic that’s passing through its data centres, cloud or managed network services, contains critical data. “So we’re continually analysing traffictrends to help keep building scalability and enhance trust with customers with leading-edge tech to support all their needs. We’re prepared and ready for exceptional growth.”

TierPoint has over 40 data centres in 20 US markets, but what’s in store for the company over the next year? Rossabi says there are many plans afoot, including a new state-of-the-art data centre opening in Broken Arrow, Tulsa - its fourth facility in Oklahoma. “The Tulsa data centre is key to our growth within that specific region,” says Rossabi. TierPoint has partnered with Dallas-based Compass Datacenters and it envisions the new facility, which will have approximately 60,000 sq ft of total space, will be completed later this year. “At the end of September, we’re also about to complete an expansion of our Tier 3-certified Nashville data centre.” TierPoint is certainly earmarked for growth and it was recently included in Cloudscene’s Q2 top ten US data centre operator leaderboard (see page 59).”