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GTT Channel Chief Touts SD-WAN, Addresses ‘Misconceptions’

Q&A

GTT Communications is growing, and so is its indirect channel.

Rob Westervelt assumed leadership of the company’s partner program back in January. The company quadrupled in size from 2016 to 2018, fueled by acquisitions of Access Point and Interoute, Westervelt noted that the channel is growing at a double-digit rate.

Channel Partners caught up with Westervelt at our recent Conference & Expo to discuss the state of GTT. We’ve edited the transcript for length and clarity.

Channel Partners: How does it feel starting the new job, and what are you hoping to do with it?

Rob Westervelt: It feels good. I’ve been here for about 22 months. I was running the indirect East channel, which I had been doing for about 20 months before I got promoted. And obviously the success in the East is what helped drive the promotion to becoming channel chief.

GTT's Rob Westervelt

GTT’s Rob Westervelt

What I’m excited about is that because of GTT’s network and the fact that we’re a Tier 1 ISP, there’s so much opportunity that’s coming our way through the partner channel. And it’s not only international; it’s domestic as well. What a lot of people [say] is, “Hey, you guys are an international player.” Yes we are, but we play just as well domestically as we do internationally. What I like about the international side is that [for] U.S.-based companies that have both a U.S. and international presence, the amount of options for a company to look at for a provider drops drops by almost 50 percent. That’s really exciting because most of the opportunities that we get into are domestic and international combined — we win a good majority of those. We’re seeing some really big logos coming through the channel, because the channel partners are typically the trusted advisers. When we get down-selected, we’ve got a really high chance of winning those.

And the majority of what we’re winning today are SD-WAN deals. Two years ago people were kicking the tires on SD-WAN and saying, “It’s something that’s coming down the road.” They’re now signing contracts. We’re seeing large international networks actually changing providers now because there’s a change in the industry. Typically somebody wouldn’t just move a 100-site network for 5 percent or 10 percent savings; it’s not worth the forklift. But with the technology change of SD-WAN, customers are now making that change because they’re not happy with their incumbent, and they’re looking at GTT and a better way to serve them through the cloud. When we’re able to sit down at the table with a customer and tell them the GTT story, our close ratio skyrockets. That’s really exciting.

CP: What are the differences between your SD-WAN and that of other providers?

RW: We were built for the cloud. Our network is built into the data centers where all of the cloud exchanges are, whereas your traditional old-time carriers have clunkier networks. They’re not really made for cloud exchanges. Our network is really a Tier 1 ISP network. We’re No. 5 in the world for IP ratings for providers. I think a third of the internet traffic traverses our network. Our network from an IP perspective is bigger than Verizon or AT&T from a Tier 1 rating perspective.

We have 3,500 access providers. That means last-loop providers that we can get to. In your SD-WAN I can give you a primary circuit, I can give you the secondary circuit, and they can be from two diverse providers. They can have …

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