Keith Olsen, Ali Marashi, George Pollock, Jr., and Ernest Sampera of vXchnge

An exclusive Tech Tribune Q&A with Keith Olsen (co-founder and CEO), Ali Marashi (co-founder and CTO), George Pollock, Jr. (co-founder and CFO), and Ernest Sampera (co-founder and CMO) of vXchnge, which was honored in our:
Tell us the origin story of vXchnge – what problem were you trying to solve and why?

vXchnge was started in 2013 because we noticed a major gap in the colocation industry that we could provide a solution to. We not only wanted to offer better data centers, but wanted to build a company centric to three main values, with our customers always at the forefront of our business: performance, reliability, and innovation. vXchnge was developed around the needs of our customers, keeping transparency as a pillar of our operations so that our customers could make smarter business critical decisions and maintain total control of their IT infrastructure.

Our founding team, comprised of several leaders who have been in the industry for many years, witnessed customers growing frustrated as they struggled to work with third-party data centers. It is remarkable how little information most providers shared with customers about their deployments. How much power are they using at a given time? Where are their servers located right at this moment? Getting that information was such a hassle that a lot of companies were hesitant to consider colocation solutions.

We also noticed companies were growing wary about managing their own infrastructure within their in-house data centers. Without the support of a colocation team, managing their data center operations was a 24×7 on-call job.

We used this information to bring a fresh perspective to the colocation market. We ensured our customers that we were listening to their needs and experiences, as well as their customers’ needs and experiences. We took that feedback seriously and went straight to work on building our revolutionary product, in\site, to give our customers the transparency they needed within their data centers.  Our goal was simple. We needed to improve or “shake up” the colocation industry and provide a solution to the pain-points of colocation buyers to become a market leader in the space.

in\site provides every vXchnge customers with unparalleled data center transparency, including a customizable, 360° view of their colocated infrastructures, performance analytics, and 24x7x365 access so they can manage their vXchnge deployments and deliver superior services to their customers.

What was the biggest hurdle you encountered in your journey?

Keeping up with the ever-changing data center market has kept us on our toes over the past years. Data security is an ongoing concern for all companies. A significant data breach can have all sorts of ramifications, not the least of which is a loss of reputation and even customers, who see a data breach as a violation of their trust.

Since our founding, vXchnge has prioritized data security to ensure that no one gains access to our customers’ assets without their permission, and that our customers’ network services remain up and running even when an attack is underway. Our security strategy includes multiple layers of physical security, strict authentication protocols, and full infrastructure redundancy to help thwart ransomware attacks.

vXchnge’s backup system also helps preserve data availability during DDoS attacks. Many vXchnge customers opt to protect themselves with our vX\defend product, which leverages multiple connectivity providers to identify DDoS attacks and redirect network traffic before they have the opportunity to reach their servers.

What does the future hold for vXchnge?

The quality of our business model will continue to set vXchnge apart from the pack. We are continuously innovating and adding new capabilities to our in\site platform based on our customer’s feedback. For example, recently added features like API integration, RFID tracking, and IT ticketing are all designed to put greater control directly into the hands of our customers. We want vXchnge data centers to continue to feel virtually indistinguishable from on-premise data solutions, with the added bonus of guaranteed uptime. That commitment to transparency and reliability is where we see the industry headed, and we’re planning to stay ahead of the curve.

Speaking of industry trends, vXchnge expects more and more customers will leverage our colocation services for hybrid IT deployments. The flexibility and cost savings of cloud solutions are just too good for most companies to pass up. Having said that, today’s IT leaders have become a lot more sophisticated about how and where they use the cloud based on the applications they are deploying. Hybrid IT deployments take advantage of the data center’s interconnectivity options to make connecting to private or public cloud even easier for your company’s mission critical assets.

What are your thoughts on the local tech startup scene in Tampa?

We speak for the entire vXchnge team when we say we’re honored to be named among the best tech startups in Tampa by The Tech Tribune for the fourth year in a row. There’s no denying that the startup scene in Tampa and the Tampa Bay region is on the rise, thanks to support from the public and private sector, local entrepreneurs and universities, and grassroots organizations.

As a technology partner, we feel that vXchnge data centers are uniquely positioned across the United States to offer the scalability, reliability, and edge capabilities that put our customers closer to their customers. As technology professionals, we enjoy being headquartered here because there is innovation and inspiration around every corner. The sunshine certainly doesn’t hurt either!

What’s your best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

vXchnge’s success can be attributed to our dedication to our customers. Entrepreneurs should take the time to study their customers and their customers’ frustrations with competitors. As your startup continues to grow, ensure that your business decisions are always customer centric. Uncovering the holes in your industry will help you “build a better mousetrap”, the sort of company that delivers unmatched value and inspires long-term loyalty.

Once your company is underway, keep in mind that even the most accomplished IT teams do not always have the skills to build and manage the IT infrastructure that startups need to succeed. Outsourcing key functions like data center management can help startups get more out of limited budgets and focus on developing the best products and services possible.


For more exclusive interviews, see our full Profile of a Founder series

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