Disruptive Force of SDN

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Software defined networking (SDN) takes a very traditional model that we’ve had for a long time, changes it, and potentially breaks it. This model has so far been very proprietary, based on proprietary technology. No matter what technology you bought from which of the major vendors, the business model was really driven by their direction and their pace of change  – in as far as how the network was defined.

However, when you get down to a software level – the game changes. You get down where you, as the user, can start to change the interfaces, the bandwidth, the capabilities of a network, introduce things like firewalling or encryption technology or cyber security into the network.

You start introducing applications in a software defined methodology, not necessarily interfacing to proprietary technology. You may still do that, but you have the option of customising the network for your particular needs, and I think that’s the key. And if you’re a CFO or CEO, network costs will start to become a more variable part of the equation. And I think that’s where they will start to get excited, with the new opportunities that approach will bring.

Changing the game

Let’s not pretend at this stage that we have all the answers to how profound this change will be or that we understand all the implications it may have. It’s certainly an evolution at this point in time. I was with a major network carrier recently, and this gentleman had the same questions to me, because they’re wrestling with these issues as well.

For example: how does it change the business model between carriers? How can Colt go into another carrier’s network and provision service along-side them, or vice-versa, how could they provision network or services on Colt’s network, at the same time?

What is the resulting balance of trade? How do the new economics work? I don’t think that’s been fully flushed out yet and one of the things that we have talked about is getting together some of the thought leaders in this area on a global basis and sitting down and redefining it.

Redefining the industry

It’s almost like going back again to a position years ago, and redefining not only the business model for Colt but for an entire industry, involving the people that are participating in and driving this new software defined network world.

I also believe the people that aren’t going to participate are going to be left behind. Ultimately we are going to create a new model and new opportunities. So if you’re a customer or you’re another carrier you need to be part of this because it’s going to be exciting. It’s going to be different. And it’s going to give you more leverage as a customer ultimately and transform how you can serve your own end user customers as a result.

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