Light Reading
Colt was implementing SDN and NFV in its data centers before those terms had even been coined.

Colt Pulls the Trigger on Data Center Virtualization

Mitch Wagner
8/7/2014
100%
0%

Colt was into SDN and NFV before those terms ever got near a water cooler.

The London-based network operator firmly embraced virtualization in 2011, before "software-defined networking" became a hot trend and way before the term "network functions virtualization" was even coined.

That move was part of a new strategy built around the operator's Information Delivery Platform (IDP), which is how Colt Technology Services Group Ltd (London: COLT) defines its end-to-end platform (network, data centers, IT, and voice services). (See Interview: Mark Leonard, Colt's Bridge Builder, published in August 2011, for more background on the IDP strategy.)

As part of that ongoing strategy, one of Colt's main goals is to combine IT and network connectivity into a single, integrated service. "The idea is to allow customers to buy a seamless service, not a set of components," says Mirko Voltolini, VP, Technology and Architecture, at Colt.

So how does virtualization fit into the IDP?

In what can be described as a "pre-NFV" move, Colt used network virtualization capabilities as part of its strategy to remove physical Layer 3 devices from customer premises and, instead, deliver services such as VPNs and Internet access to enterprise customers using a combination of software tools (virtual CPE) and higher-performance Layer 2 devices in its IP edge network.

In that IP edge/access network, Colt has supported a multi-vendor environment. It started with Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) gear, then added boxes from Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) and, later, Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), with Cisco becoming legacy.

The primary drivers were to reduce cost and complexity while improving service capabilities, says Voltolini.

Mirko Voltolini, Colt VP Technology and Architecture
Mirko Voltolini, Colt VP Technology and Architecture

With its focus on the enterprise sector, Colt serves relatively small numbers of big customers. "It's not so much the volume -- it's the complexity," Voltolini says. "Given the focus on enterprise, we have hundreds or thousands, rather than hundreds of thousands, of customers." That enterprise focus demands fast configurations, and traditional methods weren't cutting it. "In the previous model, each customer would take weeks for setting up connectivity, with manual, remote configuration work."

In addition to the evolution of its customer/edge network to a more virtualized environment, Colt is virtualizing networks in its data centers. Colt has about 500 customers in a primary data center in Paris, and needed to migrate those users away from an ageing, no-longer-supported infrastructure that was initially based solely on Cisco gear. Colt has a total of 20 data centers across Europe, and has deployed its first phase of virtualization across four data centers, including Paris, with the remaining data centers getting the virtualization treatment during the next 18 months.


August is telco data center month at Light Reading. For more on this topic, check out our dedicated Data Center content channel.


The data center set-up was complex, and required manual, physical connectivity to multiple networks for the full range of services.

That was the main driver of virtualization for Colt -- network programmability. A second driver was cutting costs, and Colt succeeded in cutting unit costs by 60-70%.

Moreover, the old infrastructure wasn't scalable. Colt had difficulty meeting demand for multiple 10Gbit/s connections to link servers, storage, and other IT capabilities, Voltolini says.

To achieve its goals, Colt launched a project called Cloud Centric Networking, or CCN, using CloudStack (open source cloud computing software) and vCloud from VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW) for cloud resource management.

Next page: Evaluations, and ever more ambitious plans

(3)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Page 1 / 2 Next >
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Atlantis-dude
100%
0%
Atlantis-dude,
User Rank: Light Sabre
8/8/2014 | 6:04:23 PM
Compete with big public cloud services
How does Colt compete with AWS, Azure etc ? Their current focus seems highly focused on automating provisioning.
nfischbach
50%
50%
nfischbach,
User Rank: Light Beer
8/8/2014 | 10:03:01 AM
Re: NO doubt Colt has been focused
Thanks Ray ! It's great to be recognized for our work but no doubt it does hurt, consumes a lot of energy but the result is (often) great and as you mention clearly needed: standing still is not an option.

We've been paving the way on many of these initiatives (and plan to continue to do so). Quite a few vendors invested as much in us as we invested in them (that's a great partnership) and we managed to convince many of our peers in the industry to join us or start a similar journey.

But as we all know technology is only one of the building blocks, the focus on people and the transformation of operating models and processes is as critical. And at some point you realize that there's only so much innovation a business can absord each year. That's why we also try to share not only our vision and strategy but also the lessons learned along the way (see http://www.slideshare.net/ColtTechnologyServices).

Nico @ Colt.
Ray@LR
50%
50%
Ray@LR,
User Rank: Blogger
8/7/2014 | 6:07:06 AM
NO doubt Colt has been focused
It was clear a few years ago that Colt had seen how thijngs were changing and instead of thinking too long about it, it acted. It hurt, but it acted. As a result, I'd say it stands a much better chance of being a key player in Europe's information services sector in 2020 than many traditional telcos.
Flash Poll
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
IHS Analyst Discusses eLTE at CCW 2014

9|10|14   |   7:09   |   (0) comments


Thomas Lynch, associate director of critical communications at IHS Technology, talks about broadband in critical communications.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
TCAA on Huawei eLTE: A Broadband Solution for Mission-Critical Communications

9|10|14   |   2:29   |   (0) comments


At CCW2014 in Singapore, the TCCA's Phil Kidner talks about the importance of broadband data for critical communications.
LRTV Custom TV
Spotlight on Cisco: SDN for Optical Networks

9|8|14   |   9:27   |   (0) comments


Cisco's Greg Nehib talks OpenFlow and more on the 'Software-Defined Networking for Optical Networks' panel at the Big Telecom Event in June 2014.
LRTV Custom TV
Cisco's Evolved Programmable Network (EPN)

9|8|14   |   4:05   |   (0) comments


A look at the various demos Cisco showed at Light Reading's Big Telecom Event highlighting Cisco's EPN innovation and how SDN and NFV technologies are enabling a variety of new services.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Future of Ultra-Broadband, With Kevin Kelly (UBBF2014)

9|5|14   |   1:13   |   (0) comments


If you think the technological changes we've seen up to now are astounding, just wait until you see what the future has in store. Discuss upcoming breakthroughs with Kevin Kelly, Founding Executive Editor of Wired Magazine, at the Huawei Ultra-Broadband Forum on September 24.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
The Inaugural Optical Innovation Forum in Nice

9|2|14   |     |   (0) comments


More than 170 attendees from network operators, service providers, analyst firms, and component companies from around the world convened in Nice in June for the inaugural Optical Innovation Forum, co-produced by Huawei and Light Reading.
Wagner’s Ring
Data Centers Drive Telcos Into the Future

8|28|14   |   2:20   |   (2) comments


Data centers are at the heart of key trends driving telecom -- network virtualization, the drive for increased agility, and the need to compete with OTT providers.
LRTV Custom TV
Why SPs Should Consider Cisco's EPN

8|27|14   |   5:40   |   (0) comments


Sultan Dawood from Cisco discusses Cisco's EPN, which enables SPs to build agile and programmable networks delivering new network virtualized services using Cisco's Evolved Services Platform (ESP).
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei’s Showcase @ Big Telecom Event 2014

8|26|14   |   2.56   |   (0) comments


SoftCOM is Huawei's framework for telecom business and network transformation. Haofei Liu, Solution Marketing Manager, Carrier Business Group, Huawei, showcases Huawei's SoftCOM architecture in this video.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei @ BTE 2014: Director of Integrated Solutions on SoftCOM & NFV Monetization

8|26|14   |   4.43   |   (0) comments


Libin Dai, Director of Integrated Solutions, Carrier Business Group, discusses Huawei's SoftCOM and NFV monetization. Huawei believes that NFV monetization should be service-driven rather than network-driven, and that operators should have network transformation, service transformation and a compatible and collaborative ecosystem in place in order to deploy NFV.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei @ BTE 2014: Director of US NFV Lab on CloudEdge & the Future of NFV

8|26|14   |   4.06   |   (0) comments


Sean Chen, Director of US NFV Lab at Huawei, discusses Huawei's new approach to NFV in open collaboration. Huawei believes that through Proof of Concept tests, it could help operators learn and communicate with the industry more effectively. Sean believes that successful implementation of NFV should have its values reaching to end users and discusses how Huawei's ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei's Highlights @ Big Telecom Event 2014

8|26|14   |   3.34   |   (0) comments


At the Big Telecom Event in Chicago Huawei showcases its high-level strategy, the SoftCOM architecture, which helps operators reduce the cost of ownership of their network infrastructure and generate additional revenue in the ICT service environment. Huawei showcases over 30 pilot programs from across the globe, focusing on the industry-leading commercial ...
Upcoming Live Events!!
September 23, 2014, Denver, CO
October 29, 2014, New York City
November 6, 2014, Santa Clara
November 11, 2014, Atlanta, GA
December 2, 2014, New York City
December 3, 2014, New York City
December 9-10, 2014, Reykjavik, Iceland
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Infographics
A survey conducted by Vasona Networks suggests that 72% of mobile users expect good performance all the time, and they'll blame the network operator when it's not up to par.
Today's Cartoon
Vacation Special Caption Competition Click Here
Latest Comment
Hot Topics
Introducing 'The New IP'
Stephen Saunders, CEO and founder, Light Reading, 9/11/2014
Glimpsing the Self-Driving Car
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 9/12/2014
AT&T to Launch WiFi Calling in 2015
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 9/12/2014
Analyzing Apple & VoLTE
Gabriel Brown, Senior Analyst, Heavy Reading, 9/12/2014
AT&T: We'll Bundle Fixed Wireless & DirecTV
Mari Silbey, Independent Technology Editor, 9/15/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed