CHICAGO -- Big Telecom Event -- "Platforming" is the new black.
That's the chief takeaway from the first two keynote speeches on day two of BTE, where both CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL) cloud CTO Jared Wray and Christine Heckart, CMO and senior vice president of ecosystem at Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD), brought forth visions of how networks are changing -- and still need to change -- to enable the New IP era.
Downtown traffic delayed the arrival of Wray, the scheduled headlining keynoter, allowing Heckart to jump in to the opening slot, followed by Wray. The new order, however, seemed right, in that Heckart issued a call to action, and then Wray illustrated how CenturyLink is acting on it.
"We need to go from networks built for transporting data to networks built for transforming business," Heckart said. "With virtualization, every device can have its own network."
That means creating a "third platform," a new network built not for voice (first platform) or data (second platform), but for a mobile, virtual, cloud-driven world, one that is dynamic, rapidly scalable, open and automated, rather than static, proprietary, slow to scale and manually operated.
"The biggest companies today [the Internet giants] are all 'third platform' companies," Heckart said. "They are already part of the New IP. Other companies will either need to get on board or be left behind."
CenturyLink is determined not to be left behind. Wray said the telco is doing a bit of its own "platforming," creating a unified network built for "large-scale instance management," the tenets of which are automation, programmability and accessibility. "It's a single user experience with all services on a single platform," he said.
CenturyLink is working hard, and arguably has been more aggressive about redesigning its network and services under New IP principles than many other telcos, but Wray admitted the job is not even half finished yet. "We have been at it for 18 months now, but we still have two to three years ahead of us before we have all our services on one platform." (See New CenturyLink CTO in Major Overhaul.)
The goal is to create a "transparent network," Wray said, adding "Every company we talk to says, "'Where are your APIs? How do I gain access to your network architecture?'" The platforming concept then also applies to allowing customers and partners access to the network that operators have in place, with the ability to build upon and customize it in different ways.
Such questions would have rattled the telco network executives of another era, but Wray embodies a network exec more comfortable with this new direction. He was dressed casually for his keynote in a black, untucked shirt, jeans and comfortable-looking shoes, and dropped mentions of having worked for companies "run by Bill Gates" and "talking to the Facebook guys about their network." Wray founded Seattle cloud services company Tier 3, which was acquired by CenturyLink, and, along with other CenturyLink acquisitions like Embarq, Savvis, DataGardens, Orchestrate and others, has become central to the telco's new exercise in platforming. (See CenturyLink Buys Cloud Leader Tier 3.)
— Dan O'Shea, Managing Editor, Light Reading