INTERVIEW: Frank Grillo, Cypress Communication’s executive vice president of marketing, speaks to about the company and its move into international markets
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One of the US’s largest providers of VoIP solutions, Cypress Communications, is to announce shortly that it is expanding operations into Europe and the Middle East.

After more than 20 years providing managed communication solutions to clients across the States, the Atlanta, Georgia-based company is to extend its network internationally.

Frank Grillo, Cypress Communication’s executive vice president of marketing, told that more than 80 per cent of its revenue and customers come from a very focused base.

This comprises law firms and businesses in the financial services, commercial real estate and professional services sectors.

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Frank Grillo,  EVP Marketing, Cypress Communications

Grillo said the decision to move into Europe and the Middle East came as a result of a new client – a large US law firm of a similar size to Cypress’ anchor tenant, Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP.

The full details are expected to be released by the end of March.

He said a data center is to be established in London, which is to be the initial anchor point in Europe.

But the expectation is that the expansion will continue.

"We are extending the Cypress network into other markets," he said.

"We will initially be marketing to our US customers and serving their needs in Europe and the Middle East."

Targeting US customers

Grillo, who was recently, announced as the winner of the’ Person of the Year award, said focusing Cypress’ initial marketing push on US customers made sense since many existing clients, such as law firms, had offices in Europe.

The company’s business model is to be modified in the new markets, with more reliance placed on partners.

In the Middle East, that is likely to be as a network manager rather than as a true end-to-end provider.

Grillo added: "But from the customers’ perspective, it will be the same."

As a provider of managed communication solutions, Cypress supplies technology that includes:

* IP Communications (managed VoIP)
* unified communication
* digital and IP phones
* unlimited calling
* business-class Internet connectivity
* firewalls
* security and VPN solutions
* audio/Web conferencing solutions

Grillo described Cypress as a "fairly unique creature", firstly because its experience of hosted PBXs stretches back to the mid-1980s.

"One of our biggest core strengths is that we get what it’s like to manage desktop phones," he said.

The second reason was that Cypress’ core customers are high-value employees that depend on a quality phone service for doing business.

So Grillo said a lawyer charging a client USD $400 per hour expects excellent service when using the phone for an important call.

"Our clients are people using the phone as their primary tool for doing business," he said.

Leap of Faith

Last month, Cypress announced that an existing client, Ascensus, was making the move to IP communications.

Grillo said this was an example of how customers are willing to put their faith in new systems because of the creditability Cypress has generated in over two decades in the industry.

In Ascensus’ case, putting its trust in Cypress’ hosted VoIP and hosted unified communications solution, C4 IP, extends to nearly 1,000 associates from six offices — including a 300-person call center.

C4 IP offers features such as integrated audio and Web conferencing, multimedia collaboration tools,presence, chat and Microsoft Outlook integration.

"While the technology was new, we were not new," said Grillo. "We were a trusted provided."

That’s not the case with every provider in the industry, according to Grillo.

He said the hosted VoIP marketplace has been damaged in the past by providers that he describes as nothing more than "two guys and a truck looking to make some fast money with a bare bones product and the appearance of low cost".

He said there were only a few providers that offered the reliability and quality required – one he was happy to name was M5 Networks.

However, Grillo said the current state of the economy meant that those providing poor service were unlikely to fare well.

"There’s only so much appetite in the market for bad VoIP," he added.

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