An Interview with PacketFabric’s Chad Milam, President and Chief Operating Officer, and Jezzibell Gilmore, SVP of Business Development

Editor’s note: One of the keywords that came up over and over again at ITW this year was “disruptive.”  We have noted in other stories from the event how disruptive and innovating thinking has seeped into an industry that has spent a long time doing things the “way we did it before.”  Among the new breed of disruptive service providers in PacketFabric.  This company, which isn’t even four-years old yet, works very closely with submarine cable operators that share a similar outlook on the industry.

At ITW, SubCableWorld had the pleasure of meeting with Chad Milam, President and Chief Operating Officer, and Jezzibell Gilmore, SVP of Business Development for PacketFabric to discuss their company, its services, and the role of disruption in today’s industry.  Their comments are below. 

Mr. Milam and Ms. Gilmore: "PacketFabric was founded in December 2015.  Our services were launched in beta at PTC in 2017 and went into full production shortly thereafter.  Our footprint is primarily in the US.  We cover over 160 data center facilities in the US in about 20 markets.  London, in partnership with Equinix, Aquacomms, and GCX was our first overseas deployment.  That was also done in partnership with Aqua Comms and their transatlantic cable system. 

We just announced that we turned up our first Australia PoP in Equinix SY4.  This is in partnership with Hawaiki and their new short-path submarine cable to the United States.

So now from the PacketFabric platform you can go into our portal or API to order and provision transport services from Sydney all the way to London.  You can have that available and ready to go in about two minutes.

Generally, we’re disrupters and we like to work with other people who are disrupters – people trying to do interesting and novel things.  Innovative minds tend to stick together and find common ground.  We believe in bringing information from one point on the globe to another and we see collaboration to be a key point in that foundation.  We want to collaborate. 

PacketFabric helps the submarine cables make that capacity available at a sub-rate level on a month-to-month basis.  This just isn’t available from anyone else today.  Also we give the submarine cable providers the flexibility to reach everywhere we reach instantaneously, so that gives their customers the ability to extend their platforms from the two end-points of the ocean very quickly to get to the areas where they need to.  The data doesn’t land at the shore and stay there.  Our customer base is generally companies that have a large US presence and specifically, for Sydney and London, those are going to be companies that are either multinationals themselves or are working frequently with international partners. 

One of the areas that we are very, very interested to see if we can get a lot of traction in Sydney and London is the media and entertainment vertical.  They’re always moving huge amounts of data very quickly and they tend to do it on a project-by-project basis.  A studio or an FX house has a contract for a couple of episodes of an episodic TV show or maybe they’re working on a film.  These are necessarily short-lived things and they need to build an ephemeral network that you can tear down without a long-term commitment.  This can be very powerful in that industry.

Our customer base ranges widely, including multinationals and carriers from international incumbents all the way to small, innovative start-ups.  We see even traditional businesses that we didn’t think had a big digital presence.  One customer that came in was a large accounting firm, but they have a huge digital presence.  Digital transformation is taking place in every vertical. 

Ultimately, there are a lot of businesses that have collected Petabytes of data over the years and with cloud and advanced machine learning capabilities, they can start to monetize that data, whether it’s for their own purposes or for others.  In order to do that, you have necessity to move around lots of data.  And you’re probably doing it as you need for a particular project.  The cloud is great because you can come in and order 10,000 CPUs today and turn them off tomorrow. 

What hadn’t been there before companies like PacketFabric existed was the ability to do that with a network.  If you need a virtual circuit today at 100 Gbps and you need it for just a few days, you can come to us and get exactly that and then rip it down when you’re done.  That didn’t exist before. 

A ton of our customers are buying 100G.  Our 10G port is the most consumed port size, but it is followed closely by 100G.  More than a handful of customers are doing multiple 100G legs into a particular data center.  We’re very much up-market in the bandwidth space. 

Most people think of OTTs as moving traffic over the Internet.  PacketFabric does not so anything over the Internet.  We use our own private network. 

We believe that there is an incredible amount of traffic that’s traversing the Internet that shouldn’t be using the Internet, for reliability, security and performance reasons.  We see a lot of customers who are becoming much more intelligent in their understanding of the underlying infrastructure that is available and they tell us their needs, their business objectives.  They say, “We don’t want to use this or that.  Is there something that is available that can help with my objectives?”  When we tell them most of them say, “We can do what?”

It’s a very pleasant way to enter the market from our perspective and from the customer’s perspective."

The telecom industry until recently had added zeros at the end of speeds but hadn’t really changed any of the economics and business model of selling bandwidth.  We’re changing the way telecom services is consumed so our customers can grow faster and more efficiently.