Scrappy startup delivers leading network performance: Mark McCann explains Masergy’s early innovation

Avatar for Jody GilliamBy Jody Gilliam|Feb 5, 2020|7:30 am CST

As Masergy celebrates its 20th year in business, we salute the employees who have served our mission the longest. One of the most tenured employees (we won’t say oldest) is Mark McCann, the Director of Contracts Administration. He’s been here since December 2000. If you know Mark, he’s the earliest of the early birds in the office. He arrives daily at 6:00 a.m. And it turns out his morning routine has been instrumental in helping Masergy be early to market with a software-defined network and cloud platform. Here’s McCann’s story.

Superior application performance and premier customer service

After 20 years of working in the telecommunications industry, McCann received a call from Masergy’s first CEO. The invitation was to review a business plan to see if he’d be interested in joining a company focused on solving business problems with superior application performance.

“The key to success was innovative technology alongside the ability to offer premier customer service. This was something that most of the big telco providers lacked in back in the day and still do to some degree,” said McCann. “Moreover, these are the same attributes that still lead our company’s competitive edge 20 years later–innovation and service.”

The timing was right. Once Masergy received its initial funding, McCann was the newest member of Masergy’s team of 20 employees.

Establishing the Masergy software-defined network

While McCann has had as many roles at Masergy as the rainbow has colors, he started out as the Director of Vendor Relations.

“Back in the day, we had no network and no clients. All we had was a business plan, phones, and a fax machine, basically. We even had to share offices with multiple people. So, we really had to build out our business from scratch.”

That was no small feat, given that a network with more scalability, performance, better bandwidth utilization, less congestion, and a better end-user experience was more concept than reality at the time. While the proposal was very attractive to investors, they needed real proof that Masergy could deliver on its promise–the highest performance for applications.

“The technology was so new that we had to demonstrate that it would actually work,” explained McCann.

The team began building on principles that were unexplored in the industry. As pioneers, they were crafting a new kind of platform for the digital age. Masery’s first network was simply a pilot–a three-PoP network in Dallas, Denver, and New York. Yet it would prove itself far superior to previous generations of technology. It was designed to innovate, delivering at or near-perfect performance metrics for jitter and packet delivery.

“I think one of the biggest benefits for us was always the fact that we were building our platform from the ground up, doing it right,” said McCann. We weren’t taking legacy network systems and trying to make them interoperate and work for different types of technology.”

The purity of Masergy’s network substructure is still fundamental to delivering the application reliability, control, and agility it’s known for today. As the only “pure-play” software-defined network, Masergy’s platform was built using uniform architecture standards. With the same standards across the world, Masergy’s service offers business continuity for global enterprises via industry-leading SLAs:

  • 100% in-sequence packet delivery (0% packet loss)
  • <1 millisecond of jitter (POP-to-POP)
  • 99+% global availability

The uniformity of the platform has also aided in helping Masergy build out new innovations with virtual assistants for the network or AIOpsshadow IT discovery solutions, as well as deep analytics and real-time bandwidth controls in one management portal.

“Once we were able to successfully demonstrate superior network performance with consistency, we received the additional funding–which was what really launched the company,” he explained.

Looking back, establishing the original software-defined network and the partnerships necessary for the company are among McCann’s fondest moments. McCann also vividly remembers the day Masergy earned its first multi-site customer.

“It was our second holiday party. Our sales rep showed up at the party with the contract in hand to share with all of us. We were all so proud! Our first, real, true customer.”

The NOC gets a new V.P. of operations

Like most startup companies, McCann was asked to wear many hats to keep the company moving forward. Key among them was the few years he spent as Masergy’s V.P. of Operations, leading the network operations center and service delivery.

His transition came around 2008, when new executive leaders began reshaping Masergy for the next phase of growth.

“We had a number of executives that joined, and there was a gap in the operations position. I had a lengthy operational background from my previous 20 years in telco. Chris MacFarland asked me if I would take it on the role, which I did. It was very challenging, but very rewarding. I learned a lot in that role,” he said.

McCann then transitioned to the V.P. of Access Management, but by that time he was reaching retirement age and began dreaming about buying a lake house. In 2013, he announced his retirement and went on to buy a cabin on the shores of Lake Palestine, where he spent his time bass fishing and golfing all across North Texas. But he couldn’t stay away from Masergy.

“I got bored,” McCann said. “It’s really hard to walk away from it all. You really miss being a part of something like this.”

Retiring twice

He was gone for about a year when Masergy called and asked him if he’d be interested in coming back into the contracts group. He couldn’t say no. McCann was re-hired by one of the same people (Wayne Griffin) he had hired on at Masergy, back in 2001.

“It’s kind of funny the way things work,” he added.

After nearly five additional years with the contracts group, McCann knows he’s ready for retirement again. He admits that his next exit will be even harder, despite the fact that he feels like he’s been running at 100 miles per hour for 20 years straight. Here’s why.

“It’s the ability to have an impact every day–I think it’s unique. It’s an amazing group of very smart people. But more importantly, everybody works well together at every level. Everyone just pitches in and does what it takes to deliver superior service.”

When McCann thinks about Masergy’s next 20 years of innovation, he still gets excited.

“I feel 100% confident we’ll stay on the leading edge of technology and be able to deliver things that other companies are never going to be able to do. Our leadership team is very good at anticipating trends, building capabilities for the future, all while staying true to the customer and their needs. I feel blessed to have seen the company succeed and grow into what it is today. That’s an opportunity that most people don’t get when they get hired at a startup–particularly when it was the year 200 and the end of the dot-com boom. Masergy is very near and dear to my heart.”

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