The case for a wider shared SDN ecosystem
With each advancement of technology customers become ever more demanding. Network services customers want a flexible bandwidth profile capable of meeting the demands of continually changing traffic profiles caused by offshored cloud applications. And they want a globalised WAN service to complement it.
But current SDN deployments are missing a piece of the puzzle, the ability to easily provision services on network that is not owned by the service provider.
SDN based network management is the key to both flexibility and globalisation but there is no service provider with a complete global reach. This limits the potential benefits of SDN deployments with the end user only being able to quickly provision network along the host carrier’s infrastructure. And where it may be possible, scalability and the ability to tailor the speed of a new connection is often very difficult if not impossible.
As SDN gains traction and more use cases, end users are going to demand greater reach as demand grows. In fact, at Colt we already have customers asking about the reach of our on demand services, but the response is somewhat limited due to complicated network-to-network interfaces (NNIs) industry wide.
Current NNIs tend to be bespoke solutions, meaning they are both expensive and take a long time to implement. What we need is an industry-wide drive towards mutually ‘agreed’ APIs.
The objective for all the players in this space should be; to drive the industry towards a common API agreement. Achieving this would enable scalable, simple, fast and cost-effective SDN and NFV NNIs, which would allow end users the world over to realise the full extent of the advantages of SDN technology, truly enabling the vision of the internet as a network of networks.
Colt has already made some headway, having reached a consensus with AT&T, the tier one US service provider, to enable real SDN inter-provider connections. We have proved this with a successful trial demonstrating Ethernet on demand provisioning between the two networks and across the Atlantic. Going forward this will provide a great boon for our customers in the US and Europe and allow them to reap the benefits of cost savings and efficiencies.
More specifically this will enable customers to reduce costs across the Atlantic by managing their capacity in an efficient way when dealing with data heavy offshored business applications in the cloud. Whilst self-service portals will help reduce lead times for bandwidth flex and provisioning.
Going forward, the industry needs to collaborate and facilitate these types of relationships but the question remains; will early standardization limit innovation?