Navigating your path to the Cloud

Uniti insights - Navigating your path to the cloud

Written by Joe McCourt

June 10, 2022

Written by: Joe McCourt SVP—Enterprise Operations at Uniti Fiber


If you’re in IT, you’re probably either enamored with the cloud – or sick of it.Seems like every time you turn around, there’s an article, statistic, consultant, or new product related to the cloud. While cloud workloads have exploded, figuring out the best way to connect to the cloud seems all too often to be an afterthought.

There’s a time-honored golf adage that applies here: There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.

Any of the golfers reading this – or folks who have any connection to outdoor sports – know that the elements are one of the key factors in sports. Golf isn’t played in a vacuum. You don’t always get perfect 70-degree weather with a light breeze. Battling varying weather conditions is a main component of successful golf outings.

The same is true for attaining success in your cloud strategy. Like weather to your golf game, connectivity to the cloud doesn’t always cooperate. From unpredictable performance to security vulnerabilities to hidden fees, standard internet connections to cloud providers are fraught with issues, which leads me to a corollary to the golf wisdom that applies to cloud connections:

There’s no such thing as a bad cloud application, only unpredictable connections to cloud.

That’s why there’s been an uptick in interest and conversations about cloud direct connects. More businesses are considering a private connection to their cloud resources versus using the public internet. Just like you can prepare for inclement weather as one way to improve your chances for success for your golf game, you can do the same for cloud accessibility by optimizing your network with a Layer 2 – fiber Ethernet connection.

At Uniti Fiber, we obviously believe in direct connects, which is why we offer our Ethernet-based Cloud Connect service. But it’s not just about selling our customers a one-off service – it’s about partnering with businesses to bring a holistic set of solutions. The majority of businesses use multiple cloud service providers, each with its own set of requirements. Like a good caddy, we’re in the business of surveying our customers’ IT landscape and taking note of internal factors and external conditions. It’s our job to know as much as we can about technology solutions and the implications for our business customers no matter the industry or application, so we can provide sound recommendations for a winning strategy.

In the case of cloud connectivity, we help customers analyze the myriad of factors and risks inherent in their cloud strategy and assess whether solutions like Cloud Connect are advisable. For many, direct connects are more stable and predictable than the internet and certainly less susceptible to security breaches and attacks. Cloud Connect via Ethernet also helps businesses by decreasing the egress charges from CSPs.

Beyond knowledge and advisement, the most impactful ways we deliver value to customers considering Cloud Connect are time and focus. Because we’re local to the businesses we serve, we can spend the time getting to know our customers’ operations, IT environments and growth goals. Through face time and regular contact, we get to know our customers’ needs, challenges and goals far deeper than those vendors who would just offer a quote for services.

And because we only offer business-grade solutions, we don’t get distracted in commoditized, high-churn services. Instead, we have a singular focus on delivering robust, scalable business IT solutions over a pure fiber, wholly owned network. As businesses decide which direct connect is right for their business, chances are they prefer the company that owns the network end-to-end and is willing to be accountable and available for its performance.

I started this off by sharing golf wisdom, so I’ll add a bit more to close this out. Sam Snead once said, “Of all the hazards, fear is the worst.” As you’re considering your options for technology, and cloud direct connects in particular, don’t get lost in all the hype or resort to the status quo of internet connections in your cloud strategy. There’s simply too much at stake to compromise your cloud connectivity strategy. Talk with someone who knows enough to provide guidance and cares enough to offer only what’s in your best interest. And if you can talk technology while catching a round of golf together, all the better.



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Kenny Gunderman
President - Chief Executive Officer
Kenny Gunderman

Kenny Gunderman is president and chief executive officer of Uniti Group Inc. He has 20 years of experience in the telecommunications industry and is focused on growing Uniti’s real estate portfolio of mission critical communications infrastructure. He has prior experience at Stephens, Lehman Brothers and KPMG. He currently serves on the board of the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation, the Hendrix College Board of Trustees, and the NAREIT Board of Governors. Gunderman holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hendrix College and an MBA from Yale.

Paul Bullington
Treasurer - Chief Financial Officer
Paul Bullington

Paul Bullington is the chief financial officer and treasurer of Uniti Group Inc., previously serving as senior vice president of Strategic Operations for Uniti Fiber. Until its acquisition by Uniti in 2017, he served as the CFO of Southern Light, a position he held since the company began operating in 2001. During his time as CFO, the company was named one of the “5,000 Fastest Growing Companies in America” by Inc. Magazine for nine consecutive years.

Bullington also has prior experience at Accenture and Royal Cup Coffee. He currently serves on the board of Eastern Shore Repertory Theatre and is a former director of First Community Bank in Alabama. Bullington holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Birmingham-Southern College and an MBA from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Daniel Heard
EVP - General Counsel and Secretary
Daniel Heard

Daniel Heard is an executive vice president, general counsel and secretary for Uniti. Heard is responsible for the company’s legal affairs and corporate governance.

Heard previously was a partner in the law offices of Kutak Rock LLP in Little Rock, Arkansas.

At Kutak Rock, Heard represented public companies in corporate, securities and merger and acquisition transactions. His clients comprised a wide range of industries, including telecommunications, information technology and food processing. He has extensive experience in negotiating, structuring and consummating mergers and acquisitions, public offerings of debt and equity securities and other corporate finance transactions.

Heard graduated from the William H. Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Central Arkansas.

Michael Friloux
EVP - Chief Technology Officer
Michael Friloux

Michael Friloux is an executive vice president and the chief technology officer of Uniti. He has over 30 years of telecommunications and information systems technology experience and is focused on future proofing Uniti’s information technology systems.

Friloux previously was chief executive officer and president of PEG Bandwidth where he led the wireless backhaul provider through a time of rapid expansion serving 2,400 cell towers over a 15,000 route mile network through 16 states.

Prior to joining PEG Bandwidth, Friloux served as president and chief operations officer for Citynet Fiber Networks where he developed the company into a leading regional wholesale carrier network spanning 13 states and 8,000 route miles.

Friloux started his career as a software engineer for Sabre Computer Services (American Airlines.)

He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Oklahoma State University.

Jennifer Ragsdale
SVP - Chief Administrative Officer
Jennifer Ragsdale

Jennifer Ragsdale is senior vice president and chief administrative officer at Uniti, a Certified Great Places to Work company. Ragsdale oversees Uniti’s customer experience management, human resource efforts, diversity and inclusion programs, and leads execution strategy to create a culture of high performance.

Prior to joining Uniti, Ragsdale spent more than a decade in the human resources field, building and executing programs to drive operation strategies and organizational transformation.

Ragsdale is a certified professional in Human Resources (PHR), a SHRM certified Human Resources Professional (SHRM-CP) and is certified in Diversity and Inclusion in HR Management. Ragsdale previously served as the president of the Central Arkansas Human Resources Association. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Central Arkansas.

Ric Chura
SVP - Chief Information Officer
Ric Chura

Ric Chura is the senior vice president and chief information officer for Uniti. He previously served as Vice President of Information Technology at PEG Bandwidth, which was acquired by Uniti in 2016. He is responsible for setting Uniti’s cybersecurity strategy, technology governance and compliance and has led the integration of the multitude of companies acquired by Uniti.

Chura has over 20 years of experience in telecommunications industry working at Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, Predictive Systems, Callisma and FiberTower, a startup telecommunications backhaul provider. He has completed the Program on Negotiation from Harvard University and holds a Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering degree from Iowa State University.

Ronald J. Mudry
SVP - Chief Revenue Officer
Ronald J. Mudry

Ron Mudry is Chief Revenue Officer of Uniti Group Inc. and President of Uniti Leasing. In this role, Mudry is responsible for Uniti’s growth opportunities across its fiber and wireless infrastructure segments. He is also responsible for Strategy and Corporate Development.

Mudry leads Uniti’s sales and business development initiatives which include providing fiber based services to wireless carriers, wireline carriers, hyperscalers, content companies, cable MSOs and other wholesale customers. Mudry previously served as President of Sales and Business Development at Uniti Fiber.

Mudry has over 30 years of experience in the telecommunications industry and was the founder of two start-up fiber operating companies that grew to become leaders in their industry segment. He joined Uniti in 2016 following the acquisition of Tower Cloud, a company he founded in 2006, that was a leader in fiber, small cell and cell site backhaul services in the Southeast, U.S. Earlier in his career, he founded Progress Telecom (formed in 1998) and before that spent 15 years with GTE Corporation (now Verizon) where he held key management positions in finance, sales and marketing, international operations, treasury, strategic planning, and mergers and acquisitions.

Mudry serves on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of INCOMPAS, a telecommunications industry association.

Mudry holds a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in finance from the University of Michigan and an MBA from the University of Tampa.

Travis Black
VP - Chief Accounting Officer
Travis Black

Travis Black is the chief accounting officer of Uniti Group Inc. In his current role, Travis leads a team of over 40 employees and is responsible for the company’s financial accounting, external reporting and financial compliance activities. Additionally, Travis oversees the company’s technical accounting matters, including merger and acquisition transactions and critical accounting estimates.

Travis has been with Uniti Group since 2015, and previously served as the Director of Financial Reporting. He began his career at FedEx, and he has over 18 years of experience in financial accounting and reporting for public companies. Travis holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Tennessee and an MBA from the University of Memphis. He is also a Certified Public Accountant.

Andy Newton
President—Uniti Fiber
Andy Newton

Andy Newton is president of Uniti Fiber where he stewards Uniti’s efforts to design, build and operate its fiber network infrastructure.

Newton was the co-founder of Southern Light, and for the previous 19 years served as its president and chief executive officer where he led the overall operations, strategic guidance and culture of the company. Under his direction, Southern Light grew to become one of the top 10 largest pure fiber optic providers in the country.

Newton received an Economics degree from Birmingham Southern College and enjoys providing leadership to non-profits that focus on education and community planning and development.

Bill DiTullio
Vice President - Investor Relations
Bill DiTullio

Bill DiTullio has over 10 years of investor relations experience, joining Uniti’s investor relations team in 2017. Bill was promoted to Vice President of Investor Relations and Finance in August of 2019. Bill originally joined Uniti through the acquisition of PEG Bandwidth in 2016, and has held several various finance roles within the organization. Prior to joining the Company, Bill served as Sr. Investor Relations Analyst at Comcast Corporation. Before that, Bill worked as an associate equity analyst at Boenning & Scattergood. Bill began his early career working for Prudential Financial in several accounting and finance roles.

Bill holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Temple University and a Bachelor of Science degree in finance and accounting from Villanova University.