For the second time, Light Reading's Leading Lights awards are acknowledging innovation in carrier cloud services. This year's finalists clearly reflect two distinct trends in this rapidly expanding arena: the move by network operators to streamline and make it easier for enterprises to connect to and use cloud services; and the impact of virtualization on the development of the cloud.
Service providers in recent weeks have been unveiling many more options for directly connecting to public clouds as well as creating multi-cloud connections for the hybrid deployments of public and private cloud that many enterprises now prefer. (See AT&T Brings Salesforce into Cloud Ecosystem, Verizon Looks to Bridge Amazon, Equinix Brings Exchange Model to Cloud, and Level 3 Cloud Connects Digital Realty.)
Two of our three finalists for Most Innovative Carrier Cloud Service, tw telecom inc. (Nasdaq: TWTC) and NaviSite (Nasdaq: NAVI), a Time Warner Cable Company, were early to that game. Both tw telecom's eLynk service and NaviSite's NaviCloud Director work to make the infrastructure that enables cloud connections to be as seamless and flexible as cloud computing itself.
NaviCloud Director and the third entry, NFV Services Enabled by Virtela Cloud SDN, both incorporate software-defined networking to deliver more flexible network connections to support cloud services. Virtela Technology Services Inc. has layered on virtualized functions as part of its global managed service offering. Since launching this service Virtela was acquired by NTT Communications Corp. (NYSE: NTT). (See NTT Comms Completes Virtela Acquisition.)
Here's a closer look at our three finalists for Most Innovative Carrier Cloud Service, in alphabetical order:
NaviSite's NaviCloud Director
Designed to simplify the often complex cloud networking needs of midsized to larger enterprises, NaviCloud Director uses virtual apps, or vApps, as building blocks to combine virtual machines (VMs) and networking so companies can create a flexible and customizable infrastructure for cloud services.
The service uses SDN to enable flexible network architectures that can help businesses respond quickly to changes and control networking costs. By combining management of virtual and physical resources across multiple locations in a single management system, NaviCloud Director makes it easier to implement cloud services across one or more virtual data centers, multiple vApps, and networks. Integration with other NaviCloud and NaviSite Managed Services is also made easier, to support complex service deployments.
The service is current available from data centers in Andover, Mass., Charlotte, N.C., and Woking, UK, with a San Jose, Calif., node available this spring.
tw telecom's eLynk service
eLynk is a private data service that enables cloud-based application providers to be connected to multiple customers via single interconnect. The application provider can establish pre-defined eLynk elements and build virtual connections from any tw telecom-connected location into an eLynk interface. With the advantage of a single interconnect for their customers without having to own the private connection or the interconnection in the data center, app providers can scale their businesses without adding complexity.
The eLynk service is data center agnostic, so it doesn't force either app providers or enterprises to use specific data centers, maintaining maximum flexibility. Customers can choose the application they want and have it delivered to any location attached to the tw telecom network.
Using MEF 2.0-certified Ethernet network facilities and its own intelligent network platform, tw telecom can test and predefine the cloud application to guarantee a seamless interconnection and greater reliability and scalability for enterprises.
NFV Services Enabled by Virtela Cloud SDN
While managing to put three of the current hot buzzwords (SDN, cloud, NFV) into a single product name. Virtela has delivered a service aimed at letting branch offices of its 500-plus multinational corporate customers benefit from advanced services and applications with little deployment of physical assets on premises. This helps enterprises support their widely distributed workforces with fast and secure access to corporate applications from anywhere, without requiring increased investment in IT technology and staff.
Virtela Cloud SDN is a proprietary technology Virtela created to distribute cloud-based virtualized functions to its enterprise customer base. The SDN platform offers command and control of network resources and virtual machines to enable network configuration down to the VM-based application level.
Enterprises can use the Virtela Enterprise Service Cloud to expand their businesses easily into new geographic areas, to complete merger/acquisition integration, and to connect a diverse array of geographically distributed locations much more easily and seamlessly.
These three cloud services were our top nominees for 2014 and represent some of the best in a growing array of carrier cloud offerings. If you have other ideas to share, please do so on the message boards below.
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