Q&A with Contributing Editor, Kathy Xu
Virtual1 founder and CEO Tom O’Hagan started the company 11 years ago to respond to a market opportunity he had seen while gaining valuable industry experience in the global carrier market. Working exclusively for wholesale markets, Virtual1 connects UK businesses with a high capacity, low latency network that is also privately connected to market-leading Unified Communications, SIP, and cloud solutions.
Data Center POST recently had an opportunity to speak with Tom about how new technologies like Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are affecting the industry, and the importance of International Telecoms Week 2018, taking place May 6-9 in Chicago, for his company.
Data Center POST, Kathy Xu (DCP-KX) Question: How important is SDN for the industry and what is your company doing to implement and deploy this technology capability?
Virtual1, Tom O’Hagan (Virtual1-TO) Answer: We see SDN as critical to our business and a logical next step for the wider industry, so much so that our entire network is already fully software-defined across our core and out to the edge devices on end-customer premises. We believe that this is a UK first. The speed and automation SDN offers was central to achieving the roll-out of our UK-wide network within 10 months. It allows us to deliver an additional 212 fibre exchanges, covering over 75 percent of UK business addresses. We also give our partners access to a set of the SDN controls so that they can amend the configuration of their customers’ solutions in real time, either via our portal, or through a suite of APIs to allow direct integration.
DCP-KX Q: Are you seeing Artificial Intelligence and/or Machine Learning deployed in your business and how?
Virtual1-TO A: The possibilities for effective AI are really exciting, especially in the consumer space. I think it will take longer to penetrate the world of business, as for example there is no sign of fully automating the support desk any time soon, because products are simply too complex. The most immediate possibilities we see are for automating things like network diagnostics, where it can sense an issue, raise a ticket automatically and present an engineer with all of the information and context they would need to troubleshoot and fix it. As technology develops and machine learning becomes more capable, the ability to apply intelligence from learned behaviour to the network to reduce risk and address challenges becomes very compelling. Both of these developments would deliver better SLAs, and result in less service disruption as well as improved profitability, through the lower overhead required.
DCP-KX Q: Why is ITW such an important industry event for you and your company?
Virtual1-TO A: ITW is a hugely valuable industry event for us. Bringing the community together in one place makes it a prime opportunity. As a new entry into the global marketplace following the completion of our UK wide network, it is a key resource for raising awareness of our proposition to carriers seeking a UK footprint, and to reinforce our existing relationships. This will be our second year of exhibiting, and after the success we had in 2017, we are increasing our participation and doubling the size of the team we are sending.
DCP-KX: I hope this makes your ITW 2018 experience twice as valuable! Thank you for taking the time to speak with us today.