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How Network Providers are Supporting their Customers: Part 2


The Rise of Network-as-a-Service

In our four-post series on how network providers are evolving to help their customers, we just finished a look at network expansion. We examined how providers are adding new routes, adding more performance, adopting technologies that let them serve more customers on existing routes, and taking advantage of approaches to boost redundancy and reduce latency. 

In this second post, we’ll take a look at the advent of network-as-a-service for lit fiber infrastructure, and why it matters.

It goes without saying that manual intervention in IT is usually a bad thing. After all, most organizations have a people and skill gap. This means that they don’t have the human beings they need to scale in sync with emerging technologies, requirements, and demands. If you have to send a person to your data center, to a peering exchange, or to an edge node, you’re wasting time and adding risk to any operation. 

IT, since the earliest days, pursued ways to reduce human intervention. Making functions software-defined has been successful in data centers and the cloud. Autonomous configuration and repair, powered by AI and ML, makes systems adaptable and flexible as changes and problems happen. 

Networking-as-a-service (NaaS), pioneered by cloud providers, brings software defined networking (SDN), programmable networking, and API-based operation to the work IT administrators do each day. In the cloud, network-as-a-service is a well-established, mature capability based on enormously performant, scalable, redundant network fabrics.  Configuration and problem resolution are largely handled by code, not by human beings going on-site, testing switches, and re-cabling to fix a failure or add capacity.

This year, we anticipate that fiber network providers will diligently work to bring networking-as-a-service to their lit fiber customers. The idea is to bring on-demand connectivity solutions for major requirements, including cloud connectivity, peering, and other connections. The goal, as in the data center and the cloud, is to make connectivity virtual, therefore virtually seamless, with enough capacity and redundancy to automatically cope with changes and re-route in case of failures.

Customers who understand the value of NaaS will demand programmability and automation from their network providers. You’ll start seeing network providers deliver:

  • Core network automation: Powerful automation will let customers bring network facilities online in minutes, reconfigure them in seconds, and have full visibility and control of their network infrastructure. Providers will make it easier to purchase, provision, configure, and expand our offering without manual intervention.
  • 24-Hour waves delivery: Organizations seeking better control over latency, bandwidth utilization, and capacity management will turn to waves to use existing resources more efficiently, with better performance. Enabling waves provisioning into a on-demand, programmable capacity will give organizations added agility.
  • Fabric: Progressive, forward looking network providers will partner with each other to build virtual fabrics of network connectivity that encompass next-generation interconnection and security capabilities, bringing a broader set of capabilities and connectivity to customers. They’ll work to identify and highlight common capabilities and differentiated capabilities for transparency’s sake, as well as build capability links from one provider to another to help customers make better choices and create better solutions.

Big picture, network providers aim to provide lit connectivity that’s as easy to provision as cloud networking. Zayo is, of course, on the leading-edge of bringing these capabilities to market, as we’ve demonstrated through our “open fabric of fabrics” partnership with Digital Realty. Don’t be surprised if we have some announcements over the next year that bring network-as-a-service capabilities closer and closer to our customers.

In the next post, we’ll explore how network providers will build on NaaS capabilities by extending and accelerating self-service capabilities. Keep an eye out for it! Explore Zayo’s expansive, global fiber network here