CAPRE’s NYC Data Center Summit Preview: Q&A with Melissa Stanislaw, Zenfi Networks

Published on CAPRE by Josh Anderson

NEW YORK CITY, NY — Melissa A. Stanislaw is the Director of Marketing Strategy and Sales Enablement for ZenFi Networks, an innovative, locally-owned and operated communications infrastructure company focused on enabling fiber optic network, distributed colocation and wireless siting solutions in the New York and New Jersey metro region. As the area’s most experienced communications infrastructure builders, ZenFi Networks has an unparalleled reputation for efficiently architecting, delivering, and expanding fiber optic networks, distributed colocation, and wireless connectivity solutions. ZenFi Networks innovative infrastructure solutions meet the Wireless Operator, Carrier and Enterprise connectivity needs of today and those required to sustain their growth into the future. Zenfi will be a featured sponsor and speaker at CAPRE’s upcoming New York City Data Center Summit on April 18. We recently connected with Stanislaw to showcase the latest at Zenfi, as well as their expectations for the summit.

CAPRE: 2018 was a big year for ZenFi Networks. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Melissa StanislawStanislaw: Sure. ZenFi Networks was founded in 2014 with the vision of being a different kind of communications infrastructure company – one that was purpose-built with an innovative fronthaul architecture designed to solve for the growing need for densification to support wireless applications. While the founding executives recognized an insurgence of growth in this area, they also saw the need to expand our existing network and product offerings and continue to offer telecom overlay services to serve the enterprise and wholesale markets. To this end, in September of 2018, we closed on our merger with Cross River Fiber, extending our network reach into New Jersey and adding even more data center and colocation facilities to our portfolio.

CAPRE: How will Zenfi Networks make the most of 2019?

Stanislaw: 2019 is definitely a year of expansion for ZenFi Networks. We continue to grow in all sectors of our market and see this as a year where we can really provide thought leadership to our existing and future customers as they prepare for continual digital transformation. A network architecture that can support all things wireless isn’t something that every provider can offer – we intend to expand upon our existing relationships with enterprise businesses, other carriers, MNO’s and of course colo facilities to help them understand the importance of a network foundation that can take them into the future of 5G and all that it will mean for our industry.

CAPRE: What opportunities is Zenfi Networks most excited about?

Stanislaw: Everyone is talking about 5G, IoT, AI and smart cities and it comes down to the need for wireless densification to support the explosive data growth these technologies will bring– both in buildings and out. Our industry will be affected by a multitude of wireless use cases, in many ways that we don’t even know about yet, so it’s an exciting time to be collaborating with the industry (data centers, mobile network operators, enterprise businesses and the wholesale market) to help them prepare for these new use cases.

Urban markets are just the beginning. If we don’t get ahead of this now, suburban and rural markets will suffer. By the way, this is the same conversation that is happening all over the world, not just in the US. Startups in the Pacific and Asian regions for example are already developing innovative wireless applications which will require massive amounts of bandwidth – again, this is where accessibility and capacity come into play. It’s not just a regional problem, it’s a wordwide opportunity and that is exciting for us.

CAPRE: What is the biggest challenge for Zenfi Networks on the horizon?

Stanislaw: I would have to say keeping up with demand. Challenges come in all aspects of preparing for the proliferation of wireless technology and everyone in this industry has to work together to enable both consumer demands and ensuing innovations. Capacity and accessibility to bandwidth is key and a holistic approach to network planning is crucial to faster deployments, ROI and ultimately, customer growth. Thankfully, ZenFi Networks knows how to navigate regulatory hurdles and our experience, approach and innovative network architecture creates efficiency and a faster time to market for our customers. We have experience working with municipalities and government agencies to meet the needs of our customers and it’s now more important than ever to leverage these relationships in light of such demand for deployment of wireless end points. These are things that end users might not consider at first, but they are critical to future success and timely deployments.

CAPRE: How would Zenfi Networks characterize the NYC data center industry right now? What are its strengths and weaknesses?

Stanislaw: With the applications that 5G will bring, legacy data centers need to reinvent themselves to be key components of the overall ecosystem, not just for historical market segments, but emerging ones as well, such as developers, landlords, government agencies and subsea providers. It’s true that companies will always need data security and storage, but it’s about monetizing existing assets and planning for the seamless transfer, storage and processing of massive amounts of data, all at rapid speeds and with cost optimization.

On the whole, I think the increase in data traffic will be good for the data center business. According to the latest Ericsson Mobility Report, video traffic in mobile networks will grow by around 35% annually through 2024 to account for 74% of all mobile data traffic. And that’s just one piece of the data traffic pie. Traffic aggregation needs to be closer to the end user and distributed colocation sites are a necessity, especially in dense urban markets. The hyperscalers already know this and are preparing for the new onslaught of data-intensive services. Networking, interconnection capabilities and economies of scale (space and power) will be important considerations for data center business models moving forward. ZenFi Networks is solving for this in New York by enabling the MNO’s to place distributed colo sites closer to end users. Distributed digital infrastructure is a natural evolution and this is a model that legacy data centers might consider as mobile proliferation will require ultra-latency to support all the bandwidth intensive applications.

CAPRE: What is Zenfi looking forward to about CapRE’s upcoming NYC data center summit?

Stanislaw: ZenFi Networks has fiber to 45 of the leading data centers in the New York Metro region. How the network infrastructure is constructed to be able to support the massive amount of data in between these locations and to end users should be a consideration. We look forward to having these discussions with the data center operators where we already have fiber, as well as with anyone who needs to do business in our region.  Of course, I am excited about moderating the panel: 5G IMPLEMENTATION, ITS NORTH AMERICAN ROLLOUT & IMPACT ON DATA CENTERS:  OBSTACLES AND CHALLENGES FOR THE INDUSTRY’S NEXT MAJOR MILESTONE and hearing the thought leadership from the experts on the panel.

CAPRE: Got it, thanks so much Melissa. We’ll see you in NYC on April 18!

Ms. Stanislaw is responsible for developing and executing the overall marketing strategy for the company and works closely with the sales organization and executive leadership team on opportunities to increase revenue. Ms. Stanislaw joined Cross River Fiber in 2017 as their Director of Sales and Marketing where she managed the day-to-day operations of a growing sales team, as well as all marketing efforts. She was with Cross River Fiber until their merger with ZenFi Networks in September of 2018. Prior to these roles, Ms. Stanislaw spent over 17 years with Cablevision Systems Corporation, Lightpath and finally Altice USA. Her experience spans across various telecommunications platforms from traditional managed services – voice, data, transport, managed Wi-Fi – to IaaS, dark fiber, data center and colocation, cloud, subsea, and wireless technologies. Her technical and marketing strategy expertise has grown alongside the evolving ecosystems of today’s telecommunications innovators.