There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has accelerated the pace of change for businesses around the world. In the short term, companies reacted to the pandemic by embracing collaboration tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams which helped keep their operations and workforce running during lockdown.
However, the events of 2020 have also been the catalyst for a much deeper and long-term change, with many businesses now pushing more forcefully ahead with digital transformation initiatives.
We dive deeper into the types of workloads businesses will be focusing on and the next generation of services, including Internet On-Demand, that deliver an agile and scalable experience for accessing and managing applications with Michael Glynn, Vice President, Digital Automated Innovation, at PCCW Global.
Giving businesses more control and flexibility
Scalability is a core requirement for growing businesses in every sense. The ability to be nimble and agile with changing capacity to be able to expand whenever it’s needed, whether that’s in relation to a company’s footprint in new markets, growing business operations, or new technologies.
With this in mind, PCCW Global has recently added an Internet On-Demand (IO-D) service to the Console Connect platform to complement existing private, layer 2 connectivity services. The IO-D service makes business internet service – delivered across a global tier 1 IP network – available for the first time on-demand via the Console Connect digital platform.
“This means if you have an existing access port, you can immediately begin using our high-performance global internet services delivered via our private global internet backbone,” says Glynn.
He adds that this internet on-demand solution “puts businesses in the driving seat with their network connections.”
In particular, the service can help businesses adjust to changes to their work environment. “Why is this important right now?” asks Glynn, “Imagine if you’re an enterprise paying for the usage and bandwidth of multiple 10G interconnects of IP transit inside your global MPLS office network, but have no employees working in the offices. Using Internet On-Demand, you could reduce IP Transit down to a minimum amount until your normal workflow environments resume. Likewise, a carrier can spin-up as much capacity as they need on a daily or monthly basis to meet the needs of their enterprise customers.”
This means Internet On-Demand can also help businesses that are looking to grow their operations globally: “It gives you the ability to dynamically scale bandwidth to meet your individual needs in real-time on a truly global basis. You can scale individual connections up and down on-demand to meet your traffic patterns and usage, while only ever paying for what you use,” says Glynn.
The high quality of service and low-latency capabilities of the underlying PCCW Global IP network also makes the Internet On-Demand service suitable for carrying performance-sensitive data. This makes the service attractive to sectors such as gaming, government, and finance.
Matching network agility of private networks with new cloud workloads
It’s clear that in order to remain competitive in a modern connected digital economy, operating in an agile and data-driven way is key. Therefore, businesses today are seeking out ways to automate workloads, and are thinking smarter about the way they buy and consume services.
“We’re seeing a lot more of our customers moving to a cloud or hybrid cloud environment, as well as adopting SaaS for their business-critical applications. Businesses need network agility that can match the agility of these new cloud workloads – so that they can flex, turn-up and reconfigure services when they want to do so,” says Glynn.
As they move more data to a cloud environment, security and privacy are becoming more important to businesses. The public internet is no longer good enough for many business-critical applications – which is why many businesses are instead turning to direct, private connections to their public cloud providers.
“By directly connecting to a cloud, enterprises can avoid some of the security pitfalls of using the public internet while also taking advantage of improved network performance, such as low latency and high availability. In some instances, using direct connections can also work out cheaper. Some hyper-scale cloud providers reduce their data egress and data usage charges for direct connectivity, eliminating some cost for the enterprise,” says Glynn.
“The Console Connect platform enables users to self-provision private, high-speed connections to all major cloud platform and regions around the world, including AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud, Oracle Cloud, Alibaba Cloud, Anexia, and more,” he adds.
Today’s businesses are increasingly looking to manage connections to multiple cloud providers. They, therefore, need a way to standardize integration and data movement across multiple cloud platforms – and an API layer offers a way for them to abstract and address compatibility challenges across providers.
“We’ve integrated the platform with all the major cloud providers, including AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and IBM Cloud. That means if you integrate to our platform via API, we seamlessly make all those cloud connectivity endpoints available to your business,” says Glynn.
Demanding fast, flexible global internet connectivity
According to PCCW Global, customers are no longer willing to wait four to six weeks to have a network service turned up, a timeframe that they believe is typical for traditional internet access set up. Instead, they say, it’s quick deployments, with the ability to manage and control connections, that are top of mind for IT decision-makers.
Software defined interconnection platforms like Console Connect can afford this level of autonomy and speed by enabling virtual private connections that give users direct access to cloud providers, SaaS partners, and business locations. By automating the way customers can connect across this dedicated network means they can spin-up instances and quickly gain access to the critical services they need.
In terms of the Console Connect platform, their layer 2 MPLS network is fully automated, giving customers dedicated connectivity to a growing ecosystem of public cloud, SaaS, IoT, IX, carrier, and enterprise partners, as well as direct interconnects to more than 400 data centers across 47 countries.
Globally, Console Connect has seen demand for software defined interconnection rise in 2020. In particular, network automation is beginning to play an important role in Africa, where there has been a considerable growth in new data centers, as well as the arrival of hyperscale cloud providers. These trends and more were highlighted in Console Connect’s recent Africa Interconnection Report.
Accelerating the ecosystem in 2021
“We expect networks to be handling many more types of connections next year and in the years to come,” says Glynn, “Just a few years ago, businesses were still experimenting with migrating workloads to the cloud. Today, they are running many business-critical applications in the cloud, while also using dozens or even hundreds of SaaS platforms.”
As a result, businesses are more interdependent than ever before on a much larger pool of SaaS, cloud, and other services.
PCCW Global believes that it’s no longer enough to just turn-up networks between data centers. Businesses now need networks that can interconnect seamlessly with a much broader ecosystem of SaaS, cloud, UcaaS, IoT, and other business partners. They expanded their platform exponentially in 2020 to support this demand.
They also more than quadrupled the number of Console Connect-enabled data centers worldwide, adding many new locations across Europe, North America, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East to further proliferate the benefits of dedicated interconnection.
As for enabling customers further in 2021, Glynn says, “We expect our partner ecosystem to accelerate even faster next year, as more businesses see the benefits of our on-demand services.”
“Customers are already starting to see the benefits of moving to a point-and-click operating environment, where they are able to automatically call upon products and services via an API. We expect automation to deliver even bigger benefits for businesses next year,” he adds.
There are many uncertainties facing the world as we move forward into 2021. One thing is clear though – and that is businesses increasingly want their network services to be dynamic, flexible and autonomous: “Our new Internet On-Demand service is a sign of things to come in 2021, as we move more of our business to an automated environment. As we continue along our path towards digital transformation, we have a lot of exciting on-demand products planned for 2021,” says Glynn.
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Contributor: Michael Glynn, VP, Digital Automated Innovation, PCCW Global
Michael Glynn, one of Australia’s best-connected ICT professionals, is leading PCCW Global’s Digital Automated Innovation team delivering automated connectivity through the Console Connect software-defined interconnect platform. Michael’s role is to drive real partnerships into the ecosystem of data centres, SaaS providers, clouds and carriers connected by PCCW Global’s worldwide network.
Michael has more than 20 years’ experience in the telecommunications industry, working with some of the region’s leading network providers. His passion, dedication and knowledge has won him the trust and respect of his peers and customers, and built a remarkable network of industry connections.
Based in Australia, Michael has been able to work at the forefront of the industry, his career reflecting the evolution of network technology – as a founding member of connectivity innovators Megaport, Superloop and ActivePort, and in senior sales roles with network providers Pacnet, Vocus and Pipe Networks.