SDN Introduces a New Paradigm: Network as a Service

Extend your network into the future

Don Wiggins
SDN Introduces a New Paradigm: Network as a Service

The proliferation of cloud services continues to be a disruptive force within the information technology (IT) realm. Public and private sector entities alike have realized the inherent benefits of relinquishing the costly heavy lift of managing IT infrastructure to the capable hands of cloud service providers (CSPs). According to research by Enterprise Strategy Group, 88% of digitally mature organizations are currently using public cloud infrastructure services. Perhaps the most important attribute of cloud services is the ability to instantly “turn up and turn down” services as required. Much like a power or water utility, organizations are now able to consume technology services in on-demand fashion, incurring costs only when doing so (much like the expenditure of electricity in the home).

SDN-Enabled Network as a Service is an Effective Solution for Government Agencies

With Network as a Service (NaaS), federal government agencies have a great alternative to traditional networks. The extended utility, mission agility and cost-effectiveness of SDN-enabled NaaS solutions are more application-centric and have an application programming interface (API) integration to help customers connect to a variety of digital services.

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Networks have always been the bridge to cloud services

By design, cloud services physically reside beyond the confines of the enterprise’s domain and within state-of-the-art private data center facilities owned and operated by CSP “hyperscalers.” This means that some form of network transport is required to access these cloud services. Early adopters most often used existing internet services to connect to a cloud service provider, often over long distances, and this mode of transport is still used today in some cases. What’s important to note here is that cloud services cannot be consumed without appropriate network transport services – the two remain wholly interdependent and that is not likely to ever change. Even as the mode of network transport continues to evolve, the symbiotic relationship between the two will remain.

The evolution of networks: From peering to software-defined interconnection

As global carrier-neutral, interconnection-centric entities like Equinix began to partner with hundreds of cloud service providers, a new way to connect to and consume cloud services began to emerge. CSPs decided to leverage Equinix’s long-standing peering pedigree as a globally scalable onramp to their services. Consequently, the “front door” to most CSPs today (where they’ve established a high-capacity network edge to their backend services), with few exceptions, can be found on Platform Equinix®.

When cloud workloads started to increase in size and frequency, enterprises and government agencies wanted to take advantage of these CSP “front doors” to optimize performance and reduce cost. To do so, these organizations began to physically extend their respective network or “customer edge” (CE) into locations like Equinix to establish direct, private, high speed, low latency interconnection with two or more clouds simultaneously. It could be said that the era of hybrid multicloud effectively originated in locations like Equinix where cloud adjacent and cloud native infrastructure can physically exist in close proximity to other IT infrastructure.

Equinix in particular took the interconnection model to new heights with the introduction of Equinix FabricTM, which is essentially the industry’s first global, software-defined network (SDN)-enabled MPLS network. Directly, securely and dynamically stitching 45+ of Equinix’s globally distributed 63 metros together (with more coming), this underlying transport now provides exceptional utility and unprecedented mission agility for agencies seeking local and/or remote CSP connectivity. SDN-enablement effectively eliminated the network as the bottleneck for timely (and flexible) service delivery.

NaaS: SDN-extensible transport of the future

Unlike traditional static, centralized core-based MPLS networks of the past, where additional circuits for new connectivity requirements could take months to provision, Equinix Fabric is a regionally distributed, dynamically scalable network as a service (NaaS) where organizations can provision circuits via a user-friendly portal within minutes. For example, a customer co-located in Equinix/Chicago can provision up to 10G of point-to-point connectivity to their secondary Equinix location in Dallas (or Sydney) within about 10 minutes. Upon arriving at the targeted “Z-Side,” interconnection can then easily be established with multiple objects, be it a CSP, secondary customer site, collaboration partner, etc. This private, Layer 2/Ethernet-based transport can be persistent or can be “torn down” in days, weeks or months as mission requirements dictate.

With its 200+ secure, state-of-the-art data centers, foundational SDN-enabled Equinix Fabric (where emerging technologies like 5G, SATCOM and future transport technologies will be integrated) along with recently introduced Equinix edge services including Network Edge, Bare Metal, Precision Timing and SmartKey® services, Platform Equinix has effectively become industry’s defacto digital infrastructure platform.

To learn more about how you can leverage NaaS to extend your network into the future, download the white paper “SDN-Enabled Network as a Service is an Effective Solution for Government Agencies” and schedule an interactive virtual Digital Edge Strategy Briefing.


You may also like to read:

AvidThink Research – 2020 State of NFV Report

IDC – Equinix Network Edge Leverages SDN and NFV to Enhance Edge Networking

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