Networks are transforming in a number of ways. At the highest level – one that is general and not tied to a specific technology – networks are becoming more dynamic; the amount and nature of bandwidth can be allocated on a fluid and real-time basis.
That’s a huge change. In a post at Vertical Systems Group, Rosemary Cochran points out that the agent of these dynamic capabilities may be software-defined networks, network functions virtualization (SDN and NFV), OpenFlow or others. In other words, the priority is to give customers what they want at a granular level. There are options. How it is done is secondary.
The post suggests that market leaders are taking their places:
In the U.S., the top dynamic Ethernet services for retail customers are AT&T’s Network on Demand and Level 3’s Dynamic Capacity. For U.S. wholesale Ethernet customers, Verizon Partner Solutions offers TLS Bandwidth on Demand. Telstra’s PEN offering provides dynamic Ethernet connectivity in Asia Pacific. A number of other Carrier Ethernet providers have dynamic service capabilities in development or in customer trials. However, most are still assessing who needs dynamic connectivity, the range of technology solutions for development, best practices for deployment and the impact on existing Ethernet services revenue.
Judging from an executive’s comments, one company that is tightly linking dynamic bandwidth allocation to SDNs is Alcatel-Lucent. Manish Gulyani, the company’s vice president of Product Marketing, told Telecom Asia in a Q&A that on-demand network services as flexible as cloud services are a requirement for success in the current landscape.
Most of the post focuses on the challenges to establishing an on-demand carrier network environment. He begins by asserting that SDNs are the key:
For example, SDN can enable dynamic data center connectivity services, rapid upsell of advanced services to connectivity customers and network slicing, in which operators can rapidly segment the network into “slices” for each of its business groups, who are then empowered with the ability to rapidly define and instantiate services and with full views and control of their own assets and services.
The sense of Gulyani’s comments is that the emergence of cloud services, which are inherently on-demand, pushes the envelope in a way that networking elements must match.
A feature at IT Brief, a site in New Zealand, alluded to the issue in the context of the Internet of Things (IoT). The takeaway is that dynamic bandwidth allocation isn’t just for huge amounts of data. Demands can be small and scattered. That doesn’t mean, however, that they will be easier to fulfill. Indeed, like everything else concerning the IoT, the high number of small demands will make things far more complex and challenging.
Dynamic bandwidth allocation is a vital capability for carriers. The ability to modulate the size and quality of the pipe trafficking data to and from the cloud and elsewhere will be table stakes in the not-too-distant future. Smart carriers are preparing.
Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.