The recent announcement of PacketFabric’s strategic partnership with Colt Technology Services provides great value for our customers and has some interesting implications for our own philosophy and the evolution of the operating model for the industry.
Both parties are recognized innovators in their origin markets – Colt in Europe and PacketFabric in the US. At the highest level, the partnership comes just in time to support European business in making the shift to cloud, since cloud usage growth in Europe has historically trailed that of the US. The key, however, is “integration”.
Our integration of Colt’s On Demand service offering provides a seamless NaaS (Network as a Service) consumption experience between the two continents. Customers can now access the breadth of coverage provided by Colt’s expansive European footprint, all via PacketFabric’s award winning online portal experience. Even the commercials are simplified with instant pricing available via the PacketFabric portal.
We approached this partnership with a simple philosophy. We’re an open platform and we believe that network automation improves the customer experience. Anyone who can work cooperatively (even if traditionally seen as a “competitor”) and can meet at the automation plane is a potential partner.
This is not a “swivel-chair” partnership with multiple consoles for the operator, but an extension of our platform and our philosophy.
NNIs (Network to Network Interfaces) have always been difficult for the traditional communications industry. Integration of operations across them has rarely been fully automated. Though it required both API integration and some business support systems work, PacketFabric had the agility to perform this integration and the Colt API provided capable and reliable hooks for these extensions.
In the past, customers would have to manually piece together a network from various providers, many of whom had little to no ability to work with each other. This was often time consuming as customers had to do their own market research, network design, POI (Point of Interconnect) mapping, commercial and contract negotiation, procurement, the list goes on!
We’ve automated all that hard work and simplified the interconnection process, shifting it from DIY to “consumable as a service”.
Figure 1 NNIs (Network to Network Interfaces) have always been difficult for the traditional communications industry.
Figure 2 The PacketFabric portal hides the underlying complexity of our NNI connection.
Integration doesn’t make the two networks the same. They remain, of course, separate entities with different operational strategies (for example, if and where they provide high availability options) and commercial terms (our UX highlights these differences).
Through that API-based operational connection, we pull a ton of information that in historical interconnection models would have required a number of manual steps; from checking the availability of a resource to pricing and deployment. What would have required phone calls back and forth between companies and multiple emails or paper workflows is provided in a simple web interface and delivered in minutes.
We’re certainly happy to expand the reach of our customers in cooperation with Colt. We believe that the more connected that networks are the better it is for our customers.
API-based integration is still not as easy as it should be across the Telecommunications industry. This may be due in part because common or dominant APIs don’t exist yet for NaaS like they do for things like object storage (S3). Though, even where service APIs do exist today, there is still friction or mismatch on the depth or completeness of support. And there will always be some BSS support required for such a partnership.
But we’re particularly proud of realizing the level of integration we present through this partnership and remain committed to the philosophy of meeting capable partners at the automation plane to deliver an improved network experience for everyone.