Remember the days when you could win a category like "Most Innovative Ethernet/Optical Service" just by being the first provider to offer 10G? 40G? 100G?
As with so much of the industry, the service innovation is becoming less about hardware capabilities and raw capacity, and much more about software capabilities, and the flexibility and efficiencies they allow you -- or your customers, by their own hands -- to achieve.
Thus, the finalists in this category, by no means an easy group to arrive at, all pushed software and service automation boundaries within the last year:
Megaport , an Australian provider of connectivity to carrier and cloud service providers, certainly seems to have the right attitude for a category that has become all about software: "We position our network as code; not infrastructure," the company said in its Leading Lights award entry for its Megaport VXC service. "While much of the rest of Enterprise technology has moved to the new paradigm of virtualization, automation, and DevOps, the network piece of the puzzle is lagging well behind."
Megaport VXCs, which debuted as a commercial service last year, are private, on-demand, transparent Layer 2 connections between any two points on a network, and can be set up in as little as three minutes between existing Megaport customers. Connection speed, reporting, account administration and other aspects of the service under the full control of the customer, and changes take effect in real time. The customer can request a usage term as brief as one hour, and pay only for what they use. All services, features, and lifecycle functions are created, modified, and deleted in real time from Megaport's portal, mobile app, or RESTful API between data centers.
The company also offers a comprehensive set of developer tools to integrate its services directly into applications such as DR, migration, visibility, and others. DevOps professionals can view the entire API library, code samples, run scenarios, and test the behavior of the network in response to code deployments at any time. They can also load their own apps written with Megaport's API set.
Ultimately, the company claims it's bringing features to the service provider segment that are more consistent with the way in which enterprises buy and use their infrastructure, licensing and SaaS services in the cloud today.
Pacnet PEN Ethernet Network as a Service, Version 3
Pacnet 's PEN (Pacent Enabled Network) already was collecting plenty of laurels before Version 3 came along in March. The Asian firm, acquired by Australia's Telstra earlier this year, quickly gained a reputation as an SDN innovator when it launched the original PEN offering in early 2014.
With PEN Verson 1, Pacnet offered on-demand, point-to-point Layer 2 Ethernet. With PEN Version 3, the company added support for self-provisioning Ethernet International Private Line (EIPL) service on demand up to 100G (vs. the 1G to10G capability in Version 1). It's what Pacnet describes as a real-life example of on-demand Layer 1 delivery over a "cloudified” transport network. At the time of the Version 3 launch, Heavy Reading senior analyst Sterling Perrin said, "Pacnet is becoming a great case study for what bigger operators can do with these new technologies, business models and operational models."
The Version 3 upgrade involved the deployment of Infinera's DTN-X platform, which allowed Pacnet to boost bandwidth up to 100G across its Trans-Pacific and Intra-Asia network using the vendor's Open Transport Switch (OTS). Because the OTS -- essentially an abstraction layer between the DTN-X and an SDN controller -- is designed to talk to SDN platforms, it enables PEN to access to Pacnet's core network, allowing customer-controlled provisioning, monitoring and configuring of underlying switches and network to deliver bandwidth on demand.
With PEN connected to OTS, Pacnet now has fully virtualized Layer 1 and Layer 2 networks with access to virtual appliances including vRouter and Vfirewall and VLAN Internet traffic. PEN Version 3 signified the culmination of Pacnet's efforts to bring cloud experience from Layer 1 to Layer 3, putting the company at the forefront of how SDN is being applied to carrier networks.
- Pacnet Offers Transport SDN Services
- Telstra Brings PEN SDN to Optical Layer
- Telstra Completes Acquisition of Pacnet
- Pacnet Turns On SDN in APAC, US
AT&T Switched Ethernet Service with Network on Demand
While Pacnet is pushing the envelope for on-demand networking in Asia, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is doing the same in the US. The telco giant's Switched Ethernet Service with Network on Demand is the first US solution that allows wide area networks (WAN) to be controlled and changed by software. With Network on Demand, business customers can order, change and provision network services on their own and in near real time, cutting significant time and labor from the process of provisioning new locations in a business customer's network.
Previously, the standard provisioning time often would be measured in weeks, but with Network on Demand, the process is reduced to five days or less, according to AT&T. Customers also now have the ground-breaking ability to control their networks and see near-immediate results, with any changes made through the self-service web portal realized in minutes instead of hours or days.
The Switched Ethernet Network On Demand service is part of both AT&T's broader Network On Demand offering, recently expanded to be available in 100 US cities, and the carrier's grand SDN-driven User-Defined Network strategy (also sometimes referred to on the vendor side as Supplier Domain 2.0, as if there weren't already enough names for it). AT&T is tapping into the latest technologies and open network principles to build a smart, cloud-like network that can address business changes and customer needs. It's an attempt to reinvent how businesses manage services on the wide area network, similar to how they're provided in cloud data centers.
- AT&T Cloud Strategy Now Focuses on Network
- SDN Powers AT&T's Rapid On-Demand Expansion
- AT&T Expands Network on Demand to 100 Cities
You can check out the full Leading Lights shortlist here.
The Leading Lights 2015 winners and newest class of Hall of Fame inductees will be unveiled at the Leading Lights awards dinner, which will be held the evening of Monday, June 8, at Chicago's Field Museum. The star-studded soirée will follow a day of special workshops covering topics such as SDN, 5G and Carrier Ethernet for the Cloud that take place ahead of Light Reading's Big Telecom Event (BTE), which this year is being held at the McCormick Place Convention Center on June 9 and 10. (Details and the agenda are on our show site, Big Telecom Event.
— Dan O'Shea, Managing Editor, Light Reading