Does It Still Matter Who Owns Infrastructure as the Industry Migrates Towards Intelligent Networks?

J. Stradling
J. Stradling

Summary Bullets:

  • The intelligent network should adapt to varying demands and self-heal at failure points, regardless of who owns the infrastructure.
  • IT managers need to seek carriers that know how to offer intelligent networking over multiple off-net partner networks.

Neither the Vanco model nor establishing a world super-carrier, as in the large telco merger attempts exemplified by KPN-Qwest around 2000/2001, really worked.  Vanco did succeed at closing a respectable list of MNC clients, but the company was ultimately acquired by Reliance Globalcom.  The VNO model continues to work in niche segments, but we have always argued that there are advantages in running traffic and applications across wholly owned networks.  KCOM in the UK, for example, is filling the niche successfully based on a small degree of MPLS PoPs and then relying on a large national partner (BT Wholesale) for infrastructure, which allows KCOM to concentrate on marketing and customer service.  It should be noted that KCOM is a UK supplier; it does not play in the global market place for multinational accounts!  It is an indefatigable truth that a service provider which owns the network can offer better control and healthier service margins.  One can also argue that owning the network will result in more concrete SLAs.  However, in a large-scale and geographically widespread global data WAN implementation, there is no single carrier that can provide all on-net connectivity.

This is where strategic alliances and solid bilateral peering partners enter to offer connectivity with end-to-end support for QoS to provide robust international solutions.  Therefore, it still matters who owns the network, but as the market evolves towards more intelligent and adaptable networking, the service provider that has demonstrable skills in managing intelligent networking extending over partners’ networks will become increasingly important.  Service delivery networks including OpenFlow, for example, are also contributing elements to this evolution.  Providers that already have comprehensive IP skills for offering fully managed services are already on the right path.  Still, networks are becoming increasingly complex, and suppliers will need to keep up or risk becoming marginalized.  Enterprise customers should not discount a VNO that relies on many partners in a complex global solution, as long as the integrator in question can build an intelligent and adaptive network bridging over the interconnected components.  Finally, we still hold the opinion that ownership of network assets relevant to the geographical dispersal of the network provides higher levels of overall control.

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