Degrees of Separation Between Carrier and Enterprise Data Centers Are Few

M. Spanbauer
M. Spanbauer

Summary Bullets:         

  • Carrier and enterprise data centers share many common elements.
  • The messaging will be different and tailored to each segment; however, the core technology remains the same.

As I was preparing for an upcoming event in London (Layer123’s Cloud-Net Summit, March 12-14) and working on characterizing the data center profiles that carriers are considering, it struck me that carrier and enterprise data centers are discussed and defined in completely separate ways.  However, as one evaluates the technology within, there are fewer differences than similarities.  Both enterprise and carrier data centers consider low-latency mechanics and optimizing point-to-point communications; provide secure domains that enable customers access to their resources; and rely on highly resilient, scalable architectures that allow for both growth and ironclad operational uptime.  The list does not stop there.

There were nearly a dozen similarities found on almost any modern data center tender, whether carrier or enterprise.  Now, there are a few notable elements that differentiate the two, including scale (thousands of nodes in the enterprise vs. potentially tens to hundreds of thousands in the carrier).  Carriers have to wrestle with and be much more concerned about multi-tenancy isolation, though many enterprises are finding the models are also desirable for the hybrid portion of the cloud/data center, much like the DMZ in the pure Web model of the past.  Perhaps the most important difference is the integration with either an existing OSS/BSS orchestration system or a custom front end on a per-client basis (though some enterprises are seeking startup assistance to support this feature on a more limited scale for inter-department service ignition capabilities).

What I find odd is that too often the SP and enterprise functions within the vendor community attempt to develop their materials independent of one another (or at least in more isolation than should be the case).  I’m speaking at this carrier show in London because the interest in enterprise technology within the carrier domain is very high today, higher than it has been in ages.  Carriers see enterprise technology as a way both to differentiate themselves competitively and to distance themselves from lethargic and often antiquated business processes.  The carriers possess both the infrastructure and the capital capability to alter the cloud landscape radically; most have been investigating the opportunity for some time and some have taken action (such as Verizon’s acquisition of Terremark).  Regardless, the time is now for both technology vendors and carriers to define their data center strategy and execute.  With the promise of cloud economics beginning to take shape, enterprises (of all sizes) are making decisions about where their services will reside, and few cloud providers possess the scale to address some of the demands being placed upon these service definitions.

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