Cloud computing is revolutionizing how businesses operate, offering agility, scalability, and cost efficiencies previously unforeseen. But with innovation comes challenges. Today, we sit down to discuss these challenges with Szlosarek, CEO at neutrality.one, a global communications service provider headquartered in Europe with operations in the Middle East, Africa, and now, South America. As they expand beyond Europe, they confront various hurdles. Emerging markets present unique opportunities but also unique demands.
George: So, for the finance trading, algorithmic trading, there is a lot of activity around emerging markets, so especially recently, we see a lot of heavy focus in the Saudi market, in Mumbai, in Singapore, in South America, where there is a lot more focus on new market entrants coming in seeking faster more robust connectivity, coming in, and essentially what's driving the market is that need to be competitive to have faster networks than were available before. These are challenging markets because there's a limited number of operators providing services. So, now that the markets are opening up, there is a need to build new infrastructure to enable the type of services they need. I mean low latency is key for the algo traders, HFT for remaining competitive, for enabling arbitrage in the markets for executing orders, speeding up transactions, and booking those and getting quicker market data information in real time. And for the algorithmic trading, they really depend on matching all the market data and order execution effectively. So for that, they need robust networks that can provide that.
Typically, in these markets, as I mentioned before, it's been challenging because of the lack of available new infrastructure sharing, shall we say. So now that there is quite a lot of focus here on developing infrastructure, neutrality comes in to customize and purpose-build those routes to enable those sectors.
So that's what we do on the frequency and on the algorithmic side. On the cloud networking side, there is a lot of movement, especially in the gaming sector. There are cloud gaming platforms which really have two distinct network areas. One is obviously the last mile, which is not something that neutrality can influence too heavily because a lot of that is eyeballs using mobile networks to connect to the core, right? But in the core network, it's about connecting these cloud gaming platforms together in a more efficient way, and latency is key for the user experience. Yeah, so quicker communication between the cloud platforms provides for a much better application experience which provides a much better gaming experience. So the common factor between the algo trading, whether it's high-frequency financial or cloud gaming, whilst they have different access requirements, the core network is the same. They want quicker access, they want more diversity, they want more geographic routing options, they want a more robust network performance. So with that is where we are building up and offering these services to the market.
George: Yeah. So what we do, we put in the pops at the critical locations, so for cloud, it's being in the key cloud data centers or in the key interconnection data centers in the key markets. So today, neutrality is in Jeddah in Saudi, we're in the UAE, we're in London, we're in Dublin, we're in Frankfurt, we're in Istanbul, we're in the core markets now. Now we're building up into Sao Paulo and into Fortaleza for the South American market, and from there, what we do is we work with a lot of the local fiber providers, both the existing ones and the emerging ones that are investing in fiber infrastructure. And it's a bit of a jigsaw puzzle, so you need to figure out who's got what capabilities.
This is ultimately all about building the lowest latency links, and very often, that might require sticking together 3 or 4 providers. So what we'll do is once we've got the pops built, we'll build the access solutions into the various financial services or HFT side, and that has its own challenges because connections into the exchanges may often be restricted or might be, well let's say we have to find the right choice of suppliers partners to get into those exchanges.
And for the cloud side, probably simpler to connect to the cloud through interconnection centers. The trick is to build the backbone, and for that, we spend a lot of time studying the fibers, the KMZ, the routing, and negotiating the agreements because we often have to purchase the network at higher capacities, optical levels, or 100 gig and above in order to get the kind of latencies we need. And we'll also work on building redundant routes. So, building new routes that don't exist in the market that are low latency, that provide for greater levels of failover or redundancy. So it's time-consuming. It's a very long process. It's something that requires quite a bit of specialized knowledge and skill, but the last 2-3 years of activity is now culminating in some really interesting routes and projects, especially in the Middle East, connecting back to Europe, a lot of that has been on subsea infrastructure. A lot of that's been coming through Egypt, but now there's a lot of new routes now emerging from the Middle East, up through Turkey into Europe and in through Jordan, out into Europe, where they can provide lower latency, better resilience, and avoiding, you know, the submarine vulnerabilities, shall we say. So that's a particular driver in the market. That's how we that's how we go about putting these solutions together.
George: Right. So we've been, as a team, as a management team and collective engineering team, we've been kind of following and witnessing the cloud changes for some time. So I mean, cloud really is, you know, about a decade old. I mean, we saw the early cloud platforms coming in the early 2010s, but it's not until about 2013, 2014 we saw the advent of the cloud interconnection platforms, of which there are many software-defined networks now that are prevalent in the market. But ultimately, what it showed was that a cloud had a totally different architectural requirement for networks, right?
So it basically means that networks need to become distributed and disaggregated rather than have everything in the central place. Now, the applications are running out of multiple clouds, and multiple locations and have very high demands on availability because today we live in an application-driven, well, especially post-pandemic accelerated adoption of cloud even more. So, we have seen as a team the challenge is that cloud growth places on networks, and ultimately, it's all driven by the user experience. Cloud would not work if we did not have the correct download and upload speeds. If we couldn't access our applications, and similarly, when it comes to mission-critical things like finance applications, like cloud gaming, you need to have a high focus on availability and performance.
So we see this as a continuing trend, and as networks are evolving as we're moving fully away from copper-based networks to fire-based networks and we're moving away from small circuit aggregation that we used to see in the past, now people taking one gig, 10 gigs, you know even in their home location and the advent of remote working has changed that again because people are expecting to access high-performance from their house. That's placing a big demand on operators to transform. So we feel like there is a need for continual improvement of core connectivity, especially in a multi-cloud world where applications, while sitting in multiple different platforms, need to be accessed in a simple way. We are investing our time and our energy to put together a portfolio of global routes that provide this level of performance and availability.
George: Sure. I would talk more about the emerging markets because in North America and Europe, you know, these are established and have been around for quite some time, and we enjoy those changes over there as changes that were made many years ago. From a regulatory perspective, these were open markets. If I talk about The Middle East, North Africa region, you have, in many cases, they may only two operators in each country, and there was no real policy, or there was no real culture around open interconnection because everything was highly regulated, tightly managed with a lack of infrastructure to support carrying neutral interconnection, which we've enjoyed in mutual markets for many years.
What that ultimately means is that with cloud coming into these markets, people are expecting to see connectivity becoming more competitive with pricing, with more options to connect, and these were simply not available there because, with duopolies, there was no incentive or there was no need for these tightly regulated markets to adapt and to lower the price and to make competition more available.
But that changed, and I witnessed the change in Asia over many years. I spent 15 years or so in Asian markets, where I saw Singapore, for example, come from a tightly controlled duopoly, and now Singapore has got all the main operators. It is probably one of the most connected cities in Asia, and it is truly a cloud hub. And so what we do is we work with the operators here by explaining the need; that when cloud infrastructure comes in with more data centers coming in, the enterprises will expect a much more competitive level of connectivity of services available. And we innovate with them. We work in lockstep with them. These are not markets where you'll come in and disrupt because it's just simply not easily done here. So you have to work in a partner model to explain the kind of needs of the global market.
So what we do, we build these offerings, we choose our partners carefully, and then we offer these solutions into European and North American markets to provide them a simple way into these markets without the usual barriers and complexities.
George: So, like I said, we're a cloud networking company. So, we offer a series of products and services for companies who are embarking down the cloud transformation digital transformation. So it can be simply explained as access products and core network products. So our access products are there to support enterprise transformations where they're moving from MPLS and nailed-up circuits. They're moving more to internet-based broadband, mobile access services in support of their SDWAN.
So, we partner with hundreds of providers worldwide, we buy in global access managed Internet solutions, and we provide a portfolio of managed connectivity and we offer those to enterprises and managed service providers who are embarking on SDWAN, and that's helping them to simply cover to have one partner to provide their global connectivity needs, so they can confidently move away from MPLS and all the more traditional technologies. In the core network, it's about improving the speed between the cloud infrastructures, and that goes back to what we talked about earlier about providing new routes, more geographically diverse services, and providing low latency links. So it's not often that the two will coexist together, but as a portfolio of products, they are complementary in helping enterprises transform their networking approach.
George: Look, we believe in the service approach. So, as much as we have seen over the years a sort of fixed infrastructure or over-the-top services, and we all enjoy a lot of over-the-top services today, we believe in giving the choice to the customer. Well, firstly, in understanding the customer's needs and listening to them and what are their challenges, in consulting them. So, looking at the way they working today, looking at what they're trying to achieve, and then suggesting a number of approaches that they may want to follow going forward. And then, we combine that information with all of our global infrastructure capabilities. So we do buy, and in many countries around the world, we have our low latency services, we have our pots, we have our infrastructure.
So, whilst we don't necessarily own all the physical assets, we do own the pops by which we unify all these assets. Then we provide a very customer engineering level of experience to our customers, really tailoring the solutions that we think they need in order to achieve their goals, which is basically high-performance networks that are secure, that are diverse, and that are highly available. And we believe that's for many sectors, that's the right way to go, especially in global networking, because, you know, working in one country is different to managing SDWAN across 50 countries or 60 countries.
You're gonna come across local challenges, regulatory challenges, commercial challenges, and technical challenges. So what we do is try to take away as much of that pain as possible, bundle it into a set of simple solutions that are tailored to the customer experience, and we’re there to serve the market as it's evolving towards a cloud networking future.