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Bring enterprise networks out of the dark ages!

Enterprise networks are stuck in the dark ages, it's time for cloud-speed.

I have the pleasure of presenting an important blog from my fellow Telstra co-worker -- Martin Bishop, Head of Programmable Networks, Telstra Global Products.

Martin is a thought leader when it comes to international Telecoms and technology thought leader. Broad experience conceptualising, developing, and growing new technology portfolios.

Thanks for the introduction Craig, for me enterprise networks have missed the memo. It's like the whole IT stack got together and decided it was time for a change. Slow, static, equipment based lifecycles were out.

Software driven, dynamic and scalable was in. And whilst the cloud and SaaS model has been embraced the world over, the one critical thing they all depend on simply hasn't come to the party, the network.

As a product manager, I get to spend a lot of time working with I.T teams and network administrators to understand the challenges they face as a result of private networks remaining in the dark ages. It should come as no surprise that lengthy purchase and roll out cycles are a big problem. Common complaints include:

  • Barriers to entry for private networks are extremely high
  • Long term contracts, often three to five years
  • Financial commitments up to millions of dollars
  • Lengthy roll out timelines, even for new sites
  • Once installed the network is static and difficult to change

You can almost imagine the old grandfather clock ticking away in the background. The whole process is too slow and conservative, which also means organisations have to take extra care in making their choice, understandably. Meanwhile the I.T management and dev teams next door are zooming around at cloud-speed.

This old way of doing things is frustrating. In the age of on-demand, how often do we really want to commit to products and services for years upfront? A house maybe? AirBnB is changing that. A car? Uber is changing that. We expect services to have completeflexibility. More scale when we need it, no wastage and lower cost during the times we don't.

A few months ago Telstra unveiled its Programmable Network. And this month we've launched in Australia, and this is exactly what it's about. Helping organisations to embrace digital transformation, quickly responding to customers and changing market dynamics.

This is achieved through flexible consumption of services and automated provisioning of network services.

Rather than building another network, we're re-thinking the networks that already exist. Imagine all the usual network components as Lego blocks, available as needed to connect together and form solutions to different problems. As things change or new blocks become available, you can add, subtract or change blocks to modify a solution, or a break it down and form a brand new one.

We're talking about doing what can normally take months, and improving it by a huge order of magnitude. Connecting New York, London, Tokyo and Sydney, takes just minutes. Connecting your private network to AWS, or Microsoft Azure, takes just minutes. What about adding a virtual firewall and virtual router to a data centre and breaking out to the internet securely? Don't bother taking a coffee break.

Much like cloud, Programmable Network adopts a PAYG model. In our current platform release, connecting to the platform can be achieved with an existing Telstra IP VPN service or through a simple cross-connect from an enabled data centre. Once connected it's a $0 commitment, and when you do spin up resources, it's in granular timeframes measured in cents per hour, not in millions of dollars per year.

The beauty of software-defined is that everything can be integrated, it's just a matter of having the right interfaces. From the portal you change everything from one place, but if you strip that back you'll see APIs which offer a new dimension, ability to embed secure networking as a part of a broader service chain - integrating it to applications and platforms to perform far broader functions.

As you can see, the Programmable Network marks the arrival of enterprise networks into the cloud age. I'm really proud of what the Telstra Programmable Network team has achieved so far. And now the shackles are off we're working on endless ways to extend this world, to the branch, to security, and even unified communications.

To learn more about our Programmable Network vision you can download our e-book here.

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