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We recently sat down with Zayo’s Devon Holt and Stacy Jackson for an engaging conversation on the technologies, innovations, and need for automation that will impact business.
What new technologies do you anticipate will improve or impact your business?
SJ: The beauty of being a fiber-based service provider like Zayo is that all new applications need us! When retailers start moving towards dynamic inventory points of sale, the inventory becomes data that needs to be tracked and processed in real time. Autonomous vehicles collect, store, and process massive amounts of mapping and traffic data. Ultra-high-quality video enables remote surgery, and this type of video needs very high, well-performing bandwidth. Financial markets trade in microsecond precision.
5G is playing its part in enabling each of these new innovations.
We don’t know which innovations will win. We do know that when the world’s commerce, behavior, and communication is even more online, all that data needs to move—from data center to data center, to the cloud and back, and from the core of a network to the edge.
But the fiber is just the beginning. On top of the foundational fiber sits the magic of automation—software-defined technologies that link business processes together (as-a-service style), so that customers enjoy a truly seamless experience from the network.
What do service and cloud providers need to do to support these innovations?
- Ensure the fiber and the services offered over it can easily reach to the cloud, the core, and the edge to meet the needs of the next inventions.
- Develop automation within the network to allow for super-fast installations and dynamic bandwidth usage.
- Put in place the pieces of network-as-a-service to allow for the next innovations and to help bandwidth consumers be more nimble.
How will business automation (via APIs) change the way service providers do business with the enterprise and in their wholesale ecosystem?
DH: Simply put, business will be a lot easier! Service providers can easily integrate and scale with their partners to quickly serve their enterprise and wholesale customers. “Easy” because customers don’t have to go through a significant development lift, as long as they are in a MEF-compliant environment. No longer will customers need ad hoc API development into each of their service providers individually. MEF-compliant LSO APIs give us, our partners, and our customers a path for streamlined integrations.
“Easy” also means “speedy.” MEF compliance reduces the amount of hands-on support required to onboard new MEF partners to your integrations. Because MEF provides a standardized set of expectations for available features, partners can get connected more quickly in order to provide faster service to shared end customers.
Will 2022 be the year of managed SD-WAN and SASE? Why or why not? What, if any, are the roadblocks to SASE deployment?
SJ: SD-WAN does seem to be having a moment—and for good reason. Any time a business can exploit and leverage the network investments they’ve already made, add software, and vastly improve their networking experience, that’s a win. And that’s what SD-WAN does.
Traditional SD-WANs offer the basics: application-aware routing, wider WAN reach to the smallest and most remote offices, and greater insights into performance. It’s not a bad start, but it’s only a start. Tapping into the full potential of SD-WAN requires time, and often hinders full deployment, so companies fall short of getting the most out of SD-WAN.
True WAN transformation goes beyond the SD-WAN device—it needs to reach from the LAN all the way into the cloud. Companies need their SD-WAN to incorporate all equipment at their sites, including their multi-cloud connections.
SD-WAN is new(ish), and a lack of standards makes self-configuration, global deployment, and multi-vendor implementation and management time consuming (and frankly, hard). Without in-house expertise, companies just scratch the surface of what they can get out of their SD-WAN.
The power of SD-WAN lies in automation. An automated logistics and configuration platform can enable deployment of thousands of sites in days. A NOC capability that leverages an advanced AI correlation engine can provide actionable insights and proactive fixes. SD-WAN’s value is managing a heterogeneous environment from LAN to cloud, and automating in this environment is complex.
Companies need to support the transient nature of their work environments, and need enhanced identity-based security solutions to do so. SASE can provide that, but it’s often another network layer (and another vendor) to manage.
There’s a network underneath all of this. The underlying WAN runs on an infrastructure that needs to scale, that needs to reach to the edge, and that needs to reach many cloud service providers. It’s a lot to manage.
Rather than 2022-2023 being “the year of SD-WAN,” it’s more accurate that it will be the year of SD-WAN evolution, enhancement, and progress toward its full potential for customers.
Do you have advice for someone starting out in this field?
SJ: In any field, it’s important to keep reminding yourself why you’re here, why your company is here, and what’s the greater good? Technical fields are mired in minutiae, and it’s easy to get lost in the details of the tasks we need to complete each day. Don’t forget to look up every day and understand the big picture—what your organization is contributing. In our case it’s all about connection. For example, working at Zayo means that:
- Each time a cell phone call is placed, our network is used (since our fiber connects the towers transmitting the call)
- Each time someone presses “send,” that email likely uses our fiber to get to its destination
- Workers seamlessly transitioned to remote productivity because the underlying network infrastructure allowed it all to happen
Helping people connect from great distances, and building the network that will support devices, applications and technologies yet to be invented—that’s what keeps me fulfilled at work. So long as I remember this, the daily grind has meaning.Tags: SASE, edge computing, LSO APIs, sd-wan, automation, Q&A, APIs