Data Center Interconnect

Global Capacity Fibers Up for Cloud Connections

SAN FRANCISCO -- Global Capacity is turning up its seventh metro fiber ring in San Francisco, marking a year of major expansion that includes assimilation of its MegaPath wholesale network purchase. That expansion is specifically aimed at connecting data centers of all sizes, both public and private, to simplify the cloud connectivity process.

Global Capacity uses big data analytics and its access to carrier services and price lists to determine where data centers -- even private ones -- are being built. The company also looks at what kinds of services are offered at a given location in order to target areas for its customers to build or move their data centers to receive the best possible connectivity, says Brandon Pemberton, SVP of global sales for Global Capacity.

Enterprises look for that information, he says, but it's becoming more important to small to midsized businesses as well, now that they are looking to do more in the cloud. Too often, those companies don't understand how essential good network connectivity is to efficient cloud operations, he says.

The network service provider is also looking at SDN and an intelligent edge strategy to make it possible to serve a wide variety of service types in the most efficient way possible, from symmetric high-capacity cloud connections to small chatty Internet of Things services, Pemberton says. But, he tells Light Reading, the technology is not yet mature enough to bring real value to Global Capacity's operations.

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In a presentation at Comptel Plus, Pemberton focused on how Global Capacity is building its fiber rings -- now in Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles and Washington, DC, as well as two in New York City -- specifically to reach major networking hubs but also large data centers and cloud providers.

The goal is to simplify cloud connectivity, says Pemberton and Mary Stanhope, Global Capacity's VP of marketing, and make it possible for enterprise traffic going to and from the cloud to use the most efficient route possible. Because Global Capacity also operates its One Marketplace wholesale connectivity service, which automates the process of identifying available connections from hundreds of local network partners, it is able to offer services based on local demand that isn't location-limited.

"Our marketplace allows that," Stanhope tells Light Reading in an interview. "It flips things around -- it's not about what kind of connection is available at your location and selling you that. We can ask, 'What kind of connection does your application need?' and then provide that on an end-to-end basis. We make sure we are connecting data centers with network centers and eliminate issues where you can get traffic across the country but you can't get it across town."

Data center connections

Global Capacity was able to identify 5,100 data centers, including many that are single-use by an individual company, by looking at the type of traffic and type of connections that go in and out of the buildings, Pemberton says. For example, where normally an office building has a single fiber connection -- since the first network operator to light up a building generally grabs most of the traffic -- a building hosting a data center will have multiple fiber providers because of the traffic volume and need for redundancy.

Cloud computing traffic also tends to be more symmetrical, with upload bandwidth demands that are greater than other typical business traffic.

"We looked at 9.6 million commercial addresses -- that includes some suites within a building -- and identified 5,100 data centers," Pemberton says. "Anywhere from 700 to north of 2,000 of those are multi-use data centers, with more being added every month."

Global Capacity has specifically put its fiber rings as close as possible to identified data centers. Soon it will be talking more about a cloud application ecosystem, with new partners in the works, to specify how one connection into its One Marketplace can unite multiple service types, depending on availability, and use the one that is most appropriate.

The longer-range goal is to be able to use network intelligence to determine which kind of connection is needed on an application-specific basis at the edge of the network and then provide that connection in the most efficient way possible, based on what's available, Pemberton says. "We are looking at pushing out SDN more from PoP [point of presence] to PoP, to make access real-time for failover and resilience."

He adds, however, that SDN technology is not yet mature enough to deliver the value Global Capacity is seeking.

"We have been exploring that from a technology standpoint, but we see challenges with standardization -- from an orchestration standpoint, there is not collaboration yet from the vendors," he comments. "We're not confident for our money that it is a technology we can deploy that will bring real value."

Global Capacity is also working more with applications service providers, Stanhope notes, to help them determine a go-to-market networking strategy.

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

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