Transforming Colt’s network architecture – the journey so far


Colt has introduced a number of innovations that enables us to deliver network services faster and more efficiently for our customers and we were delighted to be recognised as Operator of the Year at the Network Virtualisation & SDN World event earlier this week. Over the years we have openly shared ideas with our peers and vendors to help drive step change in the way services are architected, built and delivered. Colt has been recognised as not only a thought leader in this space but also as paving the way to get these innovations deployed in the field. The journey of transforming our network architecture started in 2009 when we came up with the virtual CPE concept and the proposal to merge and integrate our Ethernet (layer 2) and IP (layer 3) networks. Over the years the core ideas have stayed but the target architecture has evolved to encompass the end-to-end infrastructure that supports Colt’s Information Delivery Platform. For example, amongst many, we’ve added the data centre network as well as the IT Services stack (compute, storage and backup) to it. This also drove a revision of our service offering including many simplification exercises and removal of legacy products and platforms. The latter is harder than many think but is an integral part of the lifecycle.Some of these initiatives took longer than we had originally foreseen and there are many different reasons for that (the realisation that some of our ideas couldn’t be implemented yet, vendors being late or changing their roadmap, the need to revisit our priorities in the context of changing market conditions, rallying people from across the organisation behind our vision, etc). The lessons learned are great – and we are sharing them, including with our customers – and this has helped us focus, not repeat the same mistakes and improve the way we approach such transformational projects. When looking at the lessons learned you realise pretty quickly that technology is not core and centre, even though it is sometimes challenging (especially when you pioneer new architectures, like Modular MSP).It’s the people and operating model topics that are – in my opinion – the most important ones shortly followed by the development process. It has become clear to me that there is only so much innovation and change a company can absorb each year. With the ever changing technology landscape (one could argue that consolidation is needed as in the SDN, NFV and Cloud space, where the amount of start-ups could be considered insane), shorter development and release cycles, faster time-to-market that you need to counter-balance with taking more risks, a still complex IT stack and a good mix between agile and waterfall: what’s the best approach do you think? I think we’ve learned a lot in recent years in this space, have adapted but the journey isn’t over yet.There is so much more to talk about and share, all this has been more than exciting so far and it seems the pace isn’t slowing down. We have delivered many of these transformational and once considered creative, now widely adopted, architectures to better serve our customers and the industry, from analysts to peers, have recognized us for our work. This gives us even more energy to continue to drive innovation!

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