Talk of Subsea Cables and the Growing Cloud on Tap at PTC ’16

cable-network-undersea

The Pacific Telecommunication Council’s (PTC’s) 38th annual conference will kick off next week, accompanied by high expectations and featuring the leading voices in the telecommunications industry. PTC ‘16 will draw more than 1,800 attendees for what PTC president Stephen Ho says is a time to “rethink and re-imagine possibilities in our modern telecommunications ecosystem.”

“Telecom is no longer just about network; and the network is no longer just about communications, but about enhancing our existence, about bringing more color to our lives, and more opportunities to our businesses,” Stephen said in his welcome message.

I have the privilege of representing Equinix on two panels during the four-day event in Honolulu. The first, “Who Will Fund the Cables of the Future?” on Sunday, focuses on the subsea cable industry. The second, “The Shifting Data Center” on Tuesday, addresses the ongoing shift by the enterprise toward embracing emerging cloud, mobile and social technologies.

Here’s a quick primer on both topics in advance of the panels.

“Who Will Fund the Cables of the Future?” 

More than 99% of international communications is delivered by subsea cables. That percentage is unlikely to change, given that subsea cables are several times faster than the satellite signals sometimes touted as an alternative. But the actual volume of data is poised to grow substantially as Internet access grows worldwide and traffic increases. Cisco says Internet traffic increased fivefold between 2010 and 2014 and will increase threefold between 2015 and 2019.

Right now, there’s plenty of room for growth, with most subsea cables operating at far less than full capacity. But more capacity is needed to provide balanced and reliable access worldwide.

The six-company consortium led by Google that’s combining resources to build the $300 million FASTER subsea system between the U.S. West Coast and Japan is an example of the multi-party efforts being undertaken to complete these cables. The evolution of similar consortium projects and the increasing number of co-builds are among the developments shaping the market, and there appears to be space for both big-name carriers and new players as the industry develops.

“The Shifting Data Center”

It’s not a question whether the enterprise is moving to public data centers (the cloud), it’s a question of how quickly. The change brings opportunity for data center and network services providers to offer various hybrid cloud, multi-cloud and other solutions, but it’s going to take unprecedented collaboration between the players in the data center, cloud and network ecosystems in order to meet enterprise needs. Among the outstanding questions:

  • How will the role of the private (traditional) data center change in the IT network architecture?
  • Will the service and support model change?
  • How should partners optimally work together to sell the various components of a unified solution to a customer to ensure the customer is comfortable dealing with multiple parties?

Equinix is out front on both these issues. The fast, direct interconnection we provide at 100+ data centers in 33 markets simplifies and secures the collaboration across ecosystems and regions that that the cloud has made essential. And Equinix has recently made a mark on the subsea cable industry with our support for the FASTER system, our partnership with Aquacomms on its new transatlantic system, and the fact that the new Hibernia Networks system connects with Equinix on either side of the Atlantic, in London and New York. I’m ready to be part of the conversations at PTC ’16 and I’m looking forward continuing those conversations after it ends.

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