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CENX Taps AT&T's Brown as New CEOCENX Taps AT&T's Brown as New CEO

Man who built AT&T's Carrier Ethernet offering chosen to lead Ethernet exchange through operational expansion

July 12, 2010

3 Min Read
CENX Taps AT&T's Brown as New CEO

Carrier Ethernet services exchange specialist CENX Inc. today appointed Sanford Brown as its new CEO, hoping the man who led the building of AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s Carrier Ethernet services can provide the operational expertise needed for a new round of growth.

"We believe that CENX will scale on global basis, so we need a seasoned CEO to add operational experience," says CENX founder Nan Chen. "We are seeing extraordinary interest in CENX -- this was the time to execute and continue CENX's success."

Brown is the former vice president of AT&T who was responsible for business data services, including Carrier Ethernet. Before that, he led AT&T's entry into the managed and hosted services business.

In an interview, Brown says he's leaving a "great job" at AT&T because he thinks the Carrier Ethernet exchange business is ready to take off.

"This is a company and a set of people with a great vision and a real opportunity to change the industry in a way that is really positive," Brown says. "That's what I love to do -- build things that make a big difference in the world." [Ed. note: Does he have a new job or has he just entered Miss World?]

Brown's challenge will be to lead CENX through a major physical expansion of its services to many additional points of presence globally, Chen says, and to do so with operational efficiency.

Brown acknowledges another challenge that Chen still downplays -- the need to convince large Ethernet players to publicly support the Ethernet exchange model. Many carriers, including AT&T, have publicly said they are still in wait-and-see mode. (See Larger SPs Still Browsing Ethernet Exchanges.)

"It is not surprising to me at all that many big companies are being a little bit quiet," Brown says. "It's a big coup that Verizon is being so supportive -- that's a validation point that reaffirms my decision to come here. But in general, big companies, when something comes along that is new and different, they are naturally going to be a little bit conservative. They have to spend time evaluating and understanding how it fits in."

Chen maintains CENX has more customers than it has publicly announced, and that some of the big firms that say they are being cautious have already signed up.

Ultimately, Chen says, Ethernet service providers have to find the most efficient way to serve their customers, and he believes an Ethernet exchange does that better than direct interconnection among carriers at many different points in the network.

CENX has plenty of competition, though, as rivals such as Equinix Inc. (Nasdaq: EQIX) and Telx Group Inc. are aggressively marketing their own services to the carrier community. (See Telx Adds an Ethernet Exchange and Ethernet Europe: Equinix Opens Ethernet Exchange Doors .)

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

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