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Leading Lights Finalists 2014: Most Innovative Enterprise Service

Carol Wilson

This will be remembered as the year that bandwidth-on-demand took over the Leading Lights award for Most Innovative Enterprise Service. In what is likely a reflection of the enterprise demand for more flexible bandwidth offerings, four of our six finalists offer some form of immediate delivery of additional bandwidth.

But, as you'll read below, each company -- Masergy Communications Inc. , Pacnet , tw telecom inc. (Nasdaq: TWTC), and XO Communications Inc. -- has its own take on how to give customers flexible bandwidth options on a pay-as-you-go basis. But most of them are targeting the same enterprise needs: flexible bandwidth to match the on-demand compute and storage of cloud services and the variability of diverse data needs.

Two other finalists, Lightpath and NaviSite (Nasdaq: NAVI), offer variations on hosted and cloud services, respectively, zeroing in on some more specific enterprise requirements in their effort to differentiate their offers in a crowded service provider field.

Here's a closer look at our nominees:

Lightpath Hosted Voice BC/DR Enhancements
Businesses in the New York area have become all too familiar with the need for business continuity, given the recent weather-related disasters that have struck that area. Lightpath has now added business continuity and disaster recovery as an enhanced feature on its Hosted Voice service, enabling its voice customers to buy the services as simple add-ons. The services offered allow businesses to react quickly in the event of an emergency by automating call processes.

The new feature allows a business to easily create and send a pre-recorded message to a large contact list to alert employees, customers, or others to events such as delayed office openings or emergency closings. Calls are scheduled to be made periodically until the message is delivered.

A second function, called Firebar, allows enterprises to automatically establish an emergency audio conference with a pre-designated list of individuals, such as a designated crisis team. The audio conference is initiated when one team member calls the Firebar number, at which point outgoing calls are made to the rest of the list. Once identities are confirmed, the conference call is established.

Masergy Communications Inc.'s Calendar-Based Bandwidth Scheduling for Intelligent Service Control (ISC)
This service makes it possible for enterprises to easily set up additional bandwidth when it is needed for events such as backup or replication or large multi-point high-def video conference calls.

It builds on Masergy's ISC application, which has been in use for more than 10 years delivering web-based customer access to dynamically control network services. Using the ISC, Masergy customers can increase and decrease the port size and service planes in real-time and only pay for the bandwidth used.

The newer calendar features let Masergy customers pre-schedule bandwidth modifications to coincide with their specific business needs.

NaviSite's NaviCloud Desktop-as-a-Service
The NaviCloud Desktop–as-a-Service is a virtual desktop that can be accessed via any device in any location. Enterprises can allow workers to access their desktop -- with their saved and maintained changes -- wherever they need to, or they can set up a virtual desktop that is non-persistent and does not retain changes so that IT resources and assets are centrally controlled.

The service targets companies that are modernizing their workforce and changing the way employees work. In addition, it works for companies which have a largely remote or mobile workforce and need a scalable way to allow employees to securely access critical resources, while the company maintains compliance regulations and performance standards.

The NaviCloud DaaS can be customized to meet a wide range of uses in addition to more traditional bring-your-own device strategies including public kiosks, support for seasonal and contract works, shared work terminals, knowledge workers, and engineering or development tasks that require additional resources for limited periods of time.

One of the advantages of the DaaS is that it controls capex and increased burdens on IT services.

Pacnet's Pacnet Enabled Network
The Pacnet Enabled Network uses SDN to deliver on-demand bandwidth within minutes across the network's integrated networks and data centers which extend from multiple points in Asia across the subsea network to the US. The service is currently available in 11 points of presence in Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, Tokyo, and the US, but can be extended through interconnected networks.

Customers can turn up additional Layer 2 Ethernet bandwidth via a graphical user interface when and where they need it on the PEN, in an average time of 15 minutes. The next step for Pacnet will be adding MPLS and wavelength as on-demand options.

The PEN service also connects with Amazon Web Services LLC Direct Connect to enable enterprises to combine flexible bandwidth with cloud computing. Enterprises are able to access the Pan Asian Virtual Data Center Network, which gives them virtual connections to Pacnet partners and can extend enterprise-class data centers and private cloud environments to external cloud vendors, so that Pacnet customers can build hybrid cloud gateways that connect multiple cloud environments.

tw telecom's Alerts Driven Dynamic Capacity
The latest wrinkle in tw telecom's Dynamic Capacity capabilities is an automated process of adding on-demand bandwidth as needed when mission-critical applications require it, based on pre-set bandwidth thresholds set by the enterprise.

When a pre-set threshold is exceeded, indicating the need for additional Business Ethernet bandwidth, that bandwidth is allocated for the time period it is needed enabling double or triple the amount of typical bandwidth to be available. Using proprietary technology, tw telecom takes away the headache of pre-determining peak bandwidth requirements, and automates the process of increasing and decreasing bandwidth, thus freeing up IT manpower.

Alerts-Driven Dynamic Capacity also gives enterprises a chance to future-proof their networks and puts them in greater control of how and when additional bandwidth is used.

XO Communications' Bandwidth on Demand (BoD)
XO's take on BoD offers automatic "burstable" bandwidth as network connections expand to accommodate extra traffic while maintaining Quality of Service characteristics, instead of pre-scheduled portal based BoD.

The BoD offer is intended to support public, private, and virtual private connections as well as hybrid cloud environments. In addition, XO offers AWS Direct Connect service as well as direct connections into other cloud environments to support a multi-cloud strategy for customers, with the most flexible on-ramps.

The XO service requires customers to commit to a minimal amount of bandwidth on an average monthly basis and then pay for the on-demand as used. The focus is on maximum flexibility and ease of use.

So are our on-demand bandwidth entries truly reflective of the industry's innovation? Let us know in the comments section.

We are going to be awarding the Leading Lights on June 17 in conjunction with our Big Telecom Event, if you haven't heard about that yet, you are not paying attention! Both the ceremony and the event itself are worth checking out.

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading

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