Our journey towards Network Programmability

By: Nicolas Fischbach - 13/07/2012

Nicolas Fischbach is Director Strategy, Architecture and Innovation. Nicolas has been with Colt for over 14 years starting out as an IP engineer. Before moving into this role he was in charge of Security Engineering and Operations. Nicolas holds an Engineer degree in Networking and Distributed Computing and is a recognised authority on Service Provider security as well as on next-generation architectures.

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Luke Broome, Colt’s CTO, recently said “Investing into network programmability is an important step towards delivering integrated network and compute services and helps keep Colt at the forefront of innovation. This evolving model brings the network closer to the applications and will enable our customers to flex and consume their managed IT and network services in new ways.”

After keeping an eye on the developments in the area of software-defined networking (SDN) in recent years, working with partners on defining use-cases and executing proof-of-concepts we decided to go “public” and join the Open Networking Foundation back in March this year. We have a long history of driving innovation in a number of areas like Carrier Ethernet, managed services and modular data centres and plan to push network programmability with the same energy!

But let’s be clear, this will be a journey: an exciting one for sure, but potentially a long one. Most disruptive innovations are built on previous innovations and aren’t completely new. If you’ve been in the industry for long enough, you probably got the feeling of “I’m sure I’ve seen this somewhere before…”. I know I did in the early days. So what’s different this time, what makes SDNs so revolutionary? In my opinion it starts with the fact that it caused people to think differently about how we build networks, bind them with applications and manage them in-life. And that’s exactly what we need: not just a protocol (e.g. Openflow) or a toolbox (e.g. APIs) but a new end-to-end integrated architecture to deliver, operate and consume combined network and managed IT services. And why do we want to do this? Reducing the cost of the overall solution might be one of the outcomes, but this may eventually be overshadowed by the benefits that this journey brings to enhance the customer experience. And that is a very exciting prospect.

In the coming months you’ll hear more from us on how we build on this new paradigm to deliver network automation and network virtualisation, how our data centre fabric will evolve and our plans for wide area networks. Watch this space!

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