North America is building to scale

23 November 2018 | Natalie Bannerman

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Three hundred-fifty telecoms executives gathered in Denver for the 2018 Capacity North America conference to discuss key topics such as collaboration and virtualisation.

Closer collaboration was the big message shared by many - whether it be the relationship between carriers and service providers, or the increasingly relevant topic of interoperability.

Speaking on the importance of collaboration to virtualisation and Epsilon’s place in that space, Carl Roberts, CCO of Epsilon, said: “Ultimately nobody can do everything and one of the things that we as a much smaller company does is actually stitch together capability.”

As far as virtualisation within interoperability, he said that “software-defined networks (SDNs) allows us, if we work together as an industry, through seamless APIs to do it all end-to-end. Where we can help each other to actually service the needs of a new internet of things (IoT) and even bring 5G and mobile networks onto a fixed network fabric.”

On the topic of virtualisation and security, Ron Winward, security evangelist at Radware, commented: “If we’re able to, as a service provider, put security closer to my customers, closer to the edge and have them be big beefy boxes that can handle the large tasks, that’s what our customers want. Before without a multi-tenancy solution that wasn’t even an option, now thanks to SDN paired with various multi-tenancy options, we can now provide that for our individual customers on an individual basis.”

Sharing his thoughts on what’s ahead for 2019, Dawane Young, division VP – voice, wireless and platforms at Verizon, said: “We’ve worked on the collaboration and interoperability piece in 2018, by 2019 we hope to see collaboration not just in standards bodies but also the partnerships amongst us develop and grow.”

A new term that was doing the rounds was this idea of hybrid multi-cloud, a concept that - according to panellists of the cloud-centric networking discussion - is the next big thing in the cloud computing space and is another step toward removing the barriers of cloud consumption.

The key take away from the conversation was that in order for enterprises to be cloud-centric a couple of requirements need to be meet and that is the simplification of infrastructure and quality customer experience.

But that cloud connectivity must of course be underpinned by adequate fibre infrastructure, according to a Deloitte-published 2017 report titled “The need for deep fiber,” there will be a fourfold increase in mobile data traffic in the US between 2016 and 2021. Indicating that an investment of $130 to $150 billion is needed over the next five to seven years to adequately support broadband competition, rural coverage, and wireless densification.

As with all things in the telecoms space security is and was always a big talking point and that is especially true in and across hybrid clouds. Businesses are increasingly looking for a solution that can offer the security and visibility needed across its various cloud environments. In addition, cost control from a networking perspective was highlighted as a potential challenge in the space because of the need to move data between different environments and handle various workloads.

Visibility and the performance element in the cloud is great, but it is important to understand the different requirements needed for different workloads. Granularity of control and being able to service around that is key, otherwise, enterprises are beholden to their cloud provider to rectify any of their issues.

How does the edge fit into this cloud-centric network? Digital Realty’s Chris Sharp thinks that in the future it will become necessary to have a strong foothold in this area, but for now it their isn’t a strong enough requirement for it.

“It’s a burgeoning market; we’ve constantly looked at it and we will flex into it when the workload meets that specific requirement. But for now I would say the majority of networks, especially those with new wireless capabilities and the like are solving the majority of the use cases today.”

New voices in the telecoms space


Ever the champion of new of emerging, it was the speakers on the future faces of telecoms panel that had some of the most interesting insights of the conference. At one point the panellists eluded to the fact that networks aren’t preparing or doing enough for next-generation services, saying “they’re not moving fast enough”.

When discussing the challenges around penetrating North American markets, Amber Hartley, chief corporate development officer, BurstIQ, predicted that blockchain would put entire companies out of businesses.

“Blockchain will be so ubiquitous you won’t even know that it’s there. It’s going to be this integral part of every data relationship globally and how we manage data. The challenge with that is that because of the way data blockchain works, because it creates these attested, trusted data sets, it is going to put entire businesses out of business.”

North America is the real home of hyperscale architecture due to its rapidly growing markets and increasing need for scale. There has been a significant increase over the last five years in what that edge footprint looks like.

In the infrastructure space, tower and small cells was identified as the biggest opportunity in the North American market because of its ability to solve the increasing problem of urban densification. According to The Small Cell Forum, total deployments of small cells in North America to reach 849,000 by 2025, or 10% of global deployments. New submarine cable projects are also being explored in the region with branches into Asia as a particularly big opportunity for increased growth.