Carriers have long desired greater control over transport so that they could reduce cost, increase availability, reduce time to deliver services and explore new services, such as on demand.
That was part of the focus of OFC on Wednesday, when Panel I of the Service Provider Summit convened to explore the "Value and Cost of Multi-Layer SDN." It sought to weigh the pros and cons of software-defined networking (SDN) in order to uncover its real values and costs.
Solutions, Not Speeds and Feeds
One of the speakers was Jim Fagan, who is president of managed services at PACNET, a carrier and network services company in Asia/Pacific region. PACNET is, in fact, the only foreign operator that has licenses to operate data centers in China. Just over a year ago they deployed their first production version of an SDN network, which he said is changing the way they are interacting with their customers and how they are thinking about their business.
“Customers want solutions,” he said. “They are not asking for speeds and feeds.”
One of the solutions was to define a self-service portal that allows the customer greater control over the ability to implement rapid deployment. They also have customer controls to manage the price of deployment.
“It's brought us into a different conversation with our customers, and it's allowed us to actually start solving their problems versus providing a base service,” he said.
Another speaker in the session was Vishnu Shukla, the president of OIF, who observed, from the carrier perspective: "We are no more just providing a pipe business."
“The role of transport networks are much different than what they used to be even a couple of years ago,” Shukla said. “Now the expectations are very different.”
He touted the promise of SDN to allow networks to be controlled by applications regardless of the manufacturers of the particular components and network function virtualization (NFV) to achieve simple and dynamic application-driven network behavior. Grouping functionalities in such a distributed way has a profound effect for carriers, he said.
“The whole concept of networking and application changes,” Shukla said. Among the advantages he named were cost-effectiveness, the use off-the-shelf hardware, not wasting unused capacity and the ability to deploy new services faster and in a way that's more tailored to particular applications.
“These are the features that carriers have been [seeking] for a long time—but they have been stuck,” Shukla said. “The way the network has been designed traditionally, there has been a major separation between our operations, our IT and the type of applications we can provide.”
Business and Technology, Together at Last
The panel ended with Patrick Sims, the president and chief technology officer of Lightcore Group, Inc. He discussed the concept of infrastructure as service and platform as service, which he said is all about the customer experience. He described what he called a middleware stack, which provides for easier service creation by allowing business and technology to converge.
“Business is not technology, and technology is not business," he said. "But when we put the two together we get a better user experience.”
He ended by showing some market forecasts and trends, including the emergence of the internet of things, the explosion of big data, and the continued rise of cloud computing, a global services market that is estimated to be $677 billion by the end of 2016. This is prompting new networking approaches, like one he detailed that will allow you to use your own private cloud while still going out to touch the public cloud.
"We as carriers or component manufacturers have got to be prepared for this because this is where the money's going to be," he said.
Posted: 25 March 2015 by
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