Message from the Pope of TierPoint: Plan and Prepare for the Cloud

By Jeremy Pope, GM, TierPoint Texas

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of posts authored by TierPoint senior executives commenting on a variety of topics including industry and technology trends, customer pain points and stories that help readers get to know TierPoint a little better. First up is Jeremy Pope, general manager of TierPoint Texas.

Jeremy Pope

Jeremy Pope

On Helping Clients Transition to the Cloud
I was born in South Louisiana, where I spent much of my time outdoors with my grandfather who was a logger and avid outdoorsman. He introduced me to the outdoors, and I never lost that bug. Whether it is spending time in the mountains or in the wilderness, you can learn a lot about business from nature. Perhaps the biggest lesson I have learned is the importance of preparation and having a strong game plan. You cannot expect to be successful without clearly thinking through contingencies that can make you more agile and accurate in your decision making.

Assisting customers with infrastructure planning is becoming an increasingly bigger part of what we do because businesses no longer want a service provider to give them just colocation space, power and pipe. They want us to be aware of their business initiatives and industry and technology trends so that we can provide them with options they have not yet considered.

Nowhere is this truer than when having conversations about transitioning from traditional on-premise infrastructure to some form of hybrid or full cloud environment. So many organizations are asking, “Why do we have a data center? We are not in the data center business.” While there is a pent-up demand from organizations to move at least some workloads to the cloud or use the cloud for DR, there is anxiety as well. You have to earn customers’ trust before you can help them overcome these natural fears about data security and other issues.

At TierPoint, we’re advocates of “moving swiftly with patience” when it comes to transitioning to the cloud. You have to do your due diligence and planning before you sign a contract, especially if you want services such as automatic failover or advanced firewalls in your cloud. There is a natural inclination to want to get a migration completed as quickly as possible, but we have seen situations where a client was not truly ready for a migration but thought they were. Moving swiftly with patience really helps you avoid mistakes down the road. Part of why we are in business is to try to cure clients’ infrastructure headaches. It starts with proper planning and having the right game plan.

On Katrina and Rita
This year marks the tenth anniversary of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. They were devastating beyond imagination and pushed us to new heights in delivering customer service. During both storms, clients called us with needs requiring we set up cages in a matter of hours. We rallied as a team for the right reasons, and that set the tone for our service mindset today. And we still retain many of those customers who were with us back then.

In the run up to the actual anniversaries, we are emphasizing disaster preparedness more than ever. We advise clients on DR strategy on a daily basis, whether for a physical solution or as a service. My sense is that we are getting close to the tipping point where C-suites recognize DR as much as a corporate governance issue as simply an IT one. It is interesting to see how risk tolerances evolve as the costs of disasters and downtime go up.

On TierPoint and the Future
This is an exciting time for us and our customers. Our Texas-region business is growing and our base continues to expand across the Southwest. Being in Dallas gives our customers access to the local telecom hub with fast fiber connectivity. And with the December 2014 acquisition of Xand, TierPoint has doubled the number of data center facilities and is providing infrastructure services coast to coast. Our managed services capabilities are also expanding to make it easier for clients to focus on their core business.

One question I’m often asked is regarding client retention. Prospects want to know why TierPoint has such an excellent track record for keeping clients. There are two primary reasons.

The first is that much of our staff has been here a very long time, dating back to the years prior to (Colo4) being acquired by TierPoint. I have been here nearly a dozen years. Both my technical and facilities leaders have each been with the company for at least eight years. And our average tenure in the NOC is more than five years. So we have built solid relationships based on continuity, consistency and trust.

The second reason is an extension of the first. In business today, clients demand agility; so you have to be able to provision services quickly and you have to be flexible to meet unique requirements. We’ve done a good job on both those fronts.

Looking ahead, there’s no stopping the cloud train. I do think the managed infrastructure industry has to continue to get smarter about the four-way intersection of infrastructure, apps, security and virtualization to drive customer value and compete against on-premise innovations and other alternatives. What is clear though is that while every player in our industry will have access to good technology, the winners will be the ones who help clients plan and prepare successfully for the challenges that lurk in the woods.