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Deep Dive: Ed Bissell, Sales Director, Stellium Data Centres

Deep Dive: Ed Bissell, Sales Director, Stellium Data Centres

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Ed Bissell, Sales Director, Stellium Data Centres

What would you describe as your most memorable achievement in the data centre industry?

I would have to reflect on my time as Sales Manager at NGD (now Vantage). My previous experience working for telecom providers, such as euNetworks and Verizon, really came into play. In the early days of NGD, we had a few challenges in attracting the connectivity providers that we required to service some of the larger enterprise and hyperscale customers. As we grew in size and scale, this problem became amplified. Carriers were reluctant to POP the site due to the distance from London and the technicalities in delivering a resilient solution, especially over the Severn bridges. 

Thankfully, I had an old contact who had started an organisation called ‘Next Generation Access’ which at the time was utilising BT’s pole and duct offering; this allowed organisations to run their own fibre within the BT ducts and pole lines. In turn, this allowed us to run diverse fibres into the site via an intermediary partner (NGA) who was then able to sell dark fibres to both carriers and hyperscalers. This allowed any carrier or service provider access to the site at a much lower cost than digging the route themselves and in turn, allowed me to win one of the world’s largest SaaS companies as a customer.

What first made you think of a career in technology/data centres? 

The first time I was introduced to the data centre world was when I started working for Verizon, then MCI WorldCom. As I’m sure anybody who was involved in the DC world back then would understand, data centres were really just telecommunication hubs and so at the time, I was not really selling DCs but had a good understanding of their use case and place in the digital world. 

It wasn’t until I arrived at euNetworks in 2009 that I started to see the growth of organisations building the first cloud deployments and watching organisations such as Colt and euNetworks focus on delivering their network to DCs instead of customer premises.  My manager at euNetworks at the time had moved over to a well-known data centre provider and I started to watch the industry transform into what it has become today, not just a telecoms hub but an integral utility within the digital world.

What style of management philosophy do you employ in your current position? 

Everybody works differently and I think understanding what makes each individual tick is a key attribute of any manager. I find the data centre industry more relaxed than traditional telecommunications networking due to the longer sales cycle but in turn, data centre sales are a much more consultative and strategic sale in terms of how you engage and ultimately win customers. Giving your staff the tools and knowledge to achieve both the cold approach as well as the consultation during the sales cycle is paramount to success within this industry.

What do you think is the current hot talking point within the data centre space?

There are a number of hot topics in our market at present with one of the most important being how data centres deal with power or in some cases the lack of it in certain cities or urban areas. The power topic includes utilising green and renewable energy and understanding exactly how this is sourced, as nearly all large organisations won’t even engage with you if you can’t prove your sustainability. 

Another hot topic is the phenomenal growth of Artificial Intelligence and how data centres are going to manage and attain some of these power-heavy and large deployments. This leads into areas such as submersion cooling and how these deployments will change the landscape of data centres of the future. 

I also think we are going to see more emphasis on security, not only around the actual data centre campus but around the cable landing stations, all sadly due to the precarious geopolitical situation we find ourselves in currently.

How do you deal with stress and unwind outside the office?

I have a love affair with Brazil and continually try to improve my moderately bad Portuguese. I’m also an avid swimmer and really enjoy sea swimming, I’m lucky enough to live within an hour of the Kent coast and so regularly engage in my own form of submersion cooling. I also love travelling. From a stress and mental health standpoint, separating your work and life balance is key.

What do you currently identify as the major areas of investment in your industry?

The ongoing skills shortage means we are constantly looking for more young talent to develop the industry. It’s really up to data centre providers and the ecosystem around our industry to take the lead and invest in training new talent. I also think we will see more investment from cloud and technology companies in protecting not only their compute assets but also their network assets. 

What are the region-specific challenges you encounter in your role? 

As an out-of-town data centre, location is probably one of the most difficult barriers. This does not worry me, as being part of the team at NGD – which was based in South Wales – I saw first-hand that many organisations are moving away from London and utilising out-of-town DCs. Areas such as the North-East, much like South Wales were bastions of hard industry such as mining and steel. The power is there, the space is there and the labour pool is cheaper. I see it as a natural progression that more and more deployments will move out of the central London zone and utilise the abundance of space and power in areas such as Newcastle.

What changes to your job role have you seen in the last year and how do you see these developing in the coming months? 

My job has involved much more activity around marketing and the creation of partnerships with organisations within the North-East that utilise Stellium as a home for their cloud services as well as their own customer deployments. Building relationships locally within the territory is a very important factor to me. On top of that, our sales team is growing and we are seeing lots more interest from larger customers who require the space and power they can grow into over the coming years without being restrained by said limitations. 

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