Fred Briggs: MCI's CTO shifts the company's playing field

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Briggs: Well, we have a global network, and we have hosting space that now totals about 2 million square feet. We also have managed services, which have not been highlighted a whole lot. But those include services that we have offered to our largest customers for well over a decade. For instance, we offer managed network services on a broad scale to customers like the Nasdaq Stock Exchange and the FAA. We are now leveraging that experience in the e-commerce market.

InfoWorld: As MCI's CTO, what has been your role in defining the new vision for the company?

Briggs: I have been right in the middle of it. As a technical organization, we will have to confront changes over the next couple of years that are in some ways bigger than what I have seen in my 17 years at the company.

Telecom services themselves are changing with the advent of broadband access using technology such as MMDS [multichannel multipoint distribution services] and DSL and cable data modems. That is going to change the complexion of access software and move just about everything from narrowband to packet-switched networks.

We are looking into things like voice over frame relay, voice over ATM,[and] voice over IP [VOIP] in an attempt to leverage our history as data and voice continue to converge. We are building this new infrastructure and at the same time developing microservices and portals for our customers.

So looking at the amount of change and the new capabilities emerging over the next couple of years, it really falls on us to create the infrastructure and services necessary in that evolution.

InfoWorld: How do you interact with CEO Bernie Ebbers and other company leaders in crafting these new solutions?

Briggs: It is really a two-way course of action. What we do as one of our most critical functions as a technical organization is to show the rest of the company what is possible.

For example, what can be done with thhe new broadband pipes or the e-commerce capabilities or new networking technologies. It is our job to show what the opportunities are.

We also work with the marketing executives and others who can iterate back to us the kinds of products they'd like to see. We end up educating each other this way, and we end up with a compromise in terms of the types of new services we come up with.

In working with Bernie, we also have looked not only at the direction, size, and potential of this new market but also [at] how we will change our own infrastructure to support this marketplace.

InfoWorld: What exactly do you think is behind Mr. Ebbers' displeasure with the word 'telecom'?

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