Fresh PoPs expand potential of spreading internet hubs

Fresh PoPs expand potential of spreading internet hubs

NTT Michael Wheeler.jpg
Michael Wheeler

NTT’s Michael Wheeler says growing hubs of activity are creating fresh demand for high-quality IP in more areas.

This summer, moves have been afoot to bring more high-quality IP services to the US interior. First, NTT added a new point of presence (PoP) for its Global IP Network in Denver, Colorado. Swiftly following, a mere two weeks later, came the announcement that the company was also launching a PoP in Phoenix, Arizona.

These moves reflect a global trend for players across the IT, content delivery and enterprise spaces to capitalise on big opportunities in fast-growing locations that offer vibrant expanding internet markets and local economies.

“They’re places away from the coast compared to some other traditional markets in the flow of traffic across the US,” says Michael Wheeler, executive vice president of the Global IP Network division at NTT. “As large-scale internet-centric businesses want to get ever closer to the edge, they’re wanting to get in some of the other places in the middle of the country.”

It’s important to keep up with where the demand is heading, he says, taking the chance to enter new locations when customers want to be served in those places. While the Global IP Network has no current plans to make further PoP announcements, it will be ready when the business case becomes clear in a location.

“It’s driven by opportunity and customer demand,” says Wheeler. “We follow what we see as a business-case-driven rationale for growth and take a step forward when we conclude that we have a good fit.”

Bandwidth in demand

There certainly seems no question of demand for bandwidth dropping off any time soon, with NTT seeing continual growth in traffic use across its backbone month-on-month. “The trend for consuming bandwidth is doing anything but going backwards,” says Wheeler.

That’s leading to the carrier considering where it makes sense to upgrade to 400G to further ramp up capacity and boost hardware. “We’re looking at what allows us to continue to be ahead of the curve with regard to the demand we have for traffic,” says Wheeler.

At the same time, scaling to meet growing capacity demands creates some challenges and additional complexities. For instance, explains Wheeler, as software generations advance, NTT needs to ensure that its own software can efficiently interface with that from router vendors.

NTT is able to meet these challenges by continually monitoring changing network needs via its Network Operations Center and its Network Reliability teams. “It’s something these teams do in their normal activity and as part of their interactions with customers,” says Wheeler. At the same time, the company combines automated monitoring of the network with hands-on manual interventions when necessary, as well as carrying out contingency planning for when emergency capacity needs to be harnessed.

“That monitoring and ongoing maintenance of the network is critical,” says Wheeler. “We can’t predict the future, of course, but we can apply what we’ve learned from past events to future ones.”

Community feeling

A crucial element of resolving such issues is maintaining close relationships and comparing notes with the overall internet community to collectively confront challenges, adds Wheeler. Working through these concerns through bodies like the Global Leaders’ Forum is key in this regard, he says.

The business also stands to gain internally from scale opportunities created as a result of last year’s merger between the international IT services organisations of NTT DATA and NTT Ltd, to which the Global IP Network division belongs. “Having this much bigger overall business scope and scale creates some opportunities for us when we think about moving into markets that maybe we wouldn’t have in the past,” says Wheeler.

For the moment, the full long-term potential remains to be seen in these early days. In the meantime, NTT will continue to focus on the things it does well, while looking to take advantage of the big opportunities in areas like automation and maximising network performance as it serves customers going forward.

“We have to continue to look at next-generation hardware and infrastructure decisions, and ways we can improve performance and manage cost better – all the nuts and bolts of the day-to-day of our business,” says Wheeler.

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