Epsilon CEO Szlosarek: Automation is critical in a software-defined world

Epsilon CEO George Szlosarek
Epsilon CEO George Szlosarek says automation is key to the company's networks and customer user experience. (Epsilon)

In this Q&A with FierceTelecom, George Szlosarek, CEO of wholesale service provider Epsilon, discusses how his company is using automation to not only improve network functions, but also to provide better user experiences for its customers.

Szlosarek also speaks about the Infiny by Epsilon portal-driven platform that lets the provider manage and turn up services on demand for customers across its regional and global footprints.

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The Infiny by Epsilon platform launched last year. Customers are able to procure and manage Epsilon’s services via the Infiny web-based portal, APIs and Android and iOS mobile apps. The self-service platform allows customers to buy local, regional and global port-to-port, port-to-cloud, port-to-internet exchange, SIP trunking and last mile SD-WAN services.

In this Q&A, which was lightly edited for context and length, talks about the effect of automation for Epsilon, including the cultural impact.

FierceTelecom: What is Epsilon doing in regards to machine learning, AI and automation?

George Szlosarek: In a software-defined world, automation is critical in managing the network. We’ve invested a lot in DevOps and I really believe DevOps is unlocking the next wave of innovation in telecoms. We’re continually looking at using automation to create better user experiences for partners and their customers. 

Right now, we use automation to enable agile, elastic and fluid networking that drives the growth of internet of things (IoT), big data, artificial intelligence and smart city technologies. We’re delivering software-defined networking (SDN) that directly supports these kinds of initiatives locally, regionally and globally. Every investment we make is focused on networking for future apps and services. Our investment in a massive network upgrade will deliver hyper-scalability to serve exploding demand for connectivity globally.

FierceTelecom: Has automation led to a reduction in jobs, and if so how many?

Szlosarek: It isn’t a reduction in jobs. I think the types of jobs are changing. Manual processes, offline ordering and long-development cycles need to eventually be replaced. This starts with DevOps and we are looking to add more roles in these areas.

Automation allows us to focus on the more exciting part of networking and invest more time and effort towards enhancing the customer experience. It influences every aspect of the business and that stems from the new world of software-defined telcos.

FierceTelecom: Was there a cultural challenge to implementing automation and virtualization across Epsilon?

Szlosarek: Yes, definitely. Transformation had to happen throughout our sales teams, HR, management and the entire company, top to bottom.

To move forward as a company, we had to make sure we were all on the same page and looking towards the future. Changes in the market have to be reflected in the mindset of all employees.  We didn’t want to be the kind of business that hopes the market wouldn't change.

At first, there were some growing pains where we had to set out our vision for our business and how SDN was going to influence our future. We made a conscious decision to do new things and change our business culture. 

The launch of Infiny was a real defining moment for Epsilon. We had to make sure our employees understood why we couldn’t stick with legacy models. That was hard for some of the team but many saw it as a challenge and an opportunity to grow their roles. Change is never easy, but it has to happen.

FierceTelecom: Are there any big takeaways in regards to what you've learned since you launched the Infiny portal? 

Szlosarek: In March 2017, we launched our Infiny by Epsilon on-demand connectivity platform and that really kicked off the next phase of Epsilon. It’s the centerpiece of our business and will be a driver for our long-term growth and the growth of our partners. 

There is no limit to what Infiny can do for delivering cloud-centric networking, and we are continuing to add new modules to help our partners have an efficient experience. It’s a dynamic interconnect ecosystem, but we’ve learned that there’s so much more we can do with it to cater to demands in DevOps, cloud and new technologies.

The conversations we’re having with different kinds of partners are learning opportunities for us. Compared to traditional network providers, "born in the cloud" digital service providers cater to different verticals or offer “as-a-service” networking from a different perspective and that is really exciting. Their expectations are completely different, and we enjoy pushing the platform to new places.

We support these guys at the cutting-edge of ICT. That’s where networking gets really fun. It’s marked a starting point for new innovation in our own business and with our partners.

I see Infiny as a continually evolving ecosystem. We’ll have milestones like our 100G network upgrade but we’re always going to be improving user experience, expanding our Global Interconnect Fabric and finding new ways to innovate within the platform.