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Accessing Asia: Choosing the right network partner

The size of your business and the scale of its current and planned operations in the Asia-Pacific are other factors that need to be considered when selecting a network in the region.

The Asia-Pacific market represents an enormous business opportunity for many organisations; however, accessing this region from a network perspective can be complex. For many IT professionals there are a range of considerations that must be addressed when choosing the right network to support operations in the region.

Considerations may include:

  • Selecting a network that meets specific business requirements such as latency and capacity
  • Choosing a network that supports your business's technology ambitions
  • Acquiring a network that can support your business's longer-term plans
  • Finding a network provider that has the relationships, joint ventures and track record to support entry into a wide range of markets
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For IT professionals seeking to select the right network to operate in the Asia Pacific, the Gartner Critical Capabilities for Network Services, Asia/Pacific 2018 report is a key resource. The report provides a comprehensive profile of 13 leading network providers in the region and can be used as a tool to evaluate the varying capabilities and experience of each of these providers.

A network to meet your specific business needs

When selecting a new network provider, a strong understanding of your own business requirements is essential as different industries, as well as your organisation type, will shape your network needs. For example, a financial services business may prioritise low latency routes between key financial centres to support high-speed online trading activities. The ecommerce industry is another example. With networks required to meet the demands for a smooth exchange of data and information, logistics, cash flow, and linking the virtual and physical components of an ecommerce network, high capacity and low latency network capabilities are critical.

The Gartner report suggests that on top of the standard Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) services, IT professionals involved in content distribution activities may need to select a network provider that offers layer 2 Ethernet services and in particular, Ethernet over Synchronous Digital Hierarchy (SDH/ SONET). Such Ethernet service offerings are mainly differentiated across factors such as on-net regional service coverage, scalability, latency, and cost effectiveness.

With organisations increasingly spreading their presence across the whole of Asia, another feature that many will be looking for in their network provider is one that offers geographic reach and coverage, so that the organisation can maintain a seamless experience across all major and satellite operations, leveraging the capabilities of the one network provider across the whole of the region.

Aligning with your technology ambitions

Selecting a network that supports your business's technology direction is another critically important decision. Businesses are increasingly turning to public cloud services such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud, to take advantage of greater agility, innovation, and the ability to direct in-house technical resources to higher value tasks.

Many of the Asia-Pacific network service providers evaluated by Gartner are delivering direct connectivity to leading cloud services through MPLS or Ethernet -- enabling businesses to bypass internet services of sometimes varying quality and reap the benefits of increased application performance.

Selecting the right provider can also enable your organisation to take advantage of services that use software and policies (rather than individually-configured devices) to define network behaviours, providing greater agility and control.

According to Gartner, businesses are increasingly interested in using Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) services to create hybrid WANs that support cloud adoption and better manage costs through more flexible traffic management.

Working with a provider that offers SD-WAN and Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) technologies -- and integrates them with its networks, cloud platform, and datacentres into a programmable networking platform -- gives businesses the ability to self-provision network services and enhance application performance, while improving network and cost efficiencies.

Adapting to changing market conditions

The size of your business and the scale of its current and planned operations in Asia Pacific are other factors that need to be considered when selecting a network in the region. For example, a larger business may be more focused than its smaller rivals on extending its coverage into emerging markets.

Businesses may also want control over the cable routes when managing a dispersed set of office locations across Asia Pacific. And, of course, with the increasing reliance that organisations have on cloud services, big data, and rich media, the combination of a high capacity and low latency network that is able to offer high bandwidth services between major cities (and thus business units within an organisation) is critical in facilitating the efficient management of the organisation and finding a competitive advantage.

Supporting your Asia-Pacific business strategy

Another consideration is to ensure your network connectivity decisions support your broader Asia-Pacific business strategy. This means working closely with business team leaders and senior executives to understand and execute on their requirements. It also means acquiring a network with the flexibility to support potential as well as longer term planned expansions. Using a single supplier with robust partnerships, relationships, and ventures throughout the region to complement internal expertise can eliminate many of these concerns. For example, a supplier that runs joint ventures with local operators in China and Indonesia may be better positioned to navigate the complexities of these countries than other market entrants. They may also provide access to deeper domestic connectivity than their competitors.

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For a fourth consecutive year, Telstra received the highest score for High Performance Network in 2018 and the highest scores for High Capacity Network and Low Latency Network (2014-2017), in the Gartner Critical Capabilities for Network Services, Asia Pacific. Find out for yourself .