Don’t leave the network as an afterthought, says Telia Carrier’s Miskulin
Matthew Miskulin, the head of Ecosystem and Network Development at Telia Carrier, tells George Malim, the managing editor of VanillaPlus, that connectivity providers are carving out a larger footprint in the enterprise market by providing network and IT options that fit with enterprises’ specific requirements and integrate smoothly with their chosen cloud providers’ architectures.
George Malim: With increased reliance on the cloud how have enterprises and service providers’ approaches to connectivity to the cloud changed?
Matthew Miskulin: One of the biggest challenges enterprises face today is the sheer volume of choice they have. It’s just the sheer volume of options for connecting to public cloud workloads. This ranges from public internet connectivity and moves up the resiliency stack to VPN, direct peering and others. Terminologies and the options available are different depending on the cloud platforms you use.
It’s a challenge and an opportunity so for us it’s important to understand what workloads enterprises are running. For cloud-native companies who have grown up using the internet it might be fine to use public internet but, for companies that have grown into more regulated areas and have to consider how traffic moves in and out of the public cloud, that’s when they’d come to us.
If a company is in the process of moving its entire physical data centre to Amazon, there’s an enormous amount of data to migrate. Initially it might have used a VPN but found the throughput limited so they’ll come to us to speed up the process. We’re able to suggest the best option for them, which in this case is a dedicated private connection.
Part of the value service providers need today is not only in the understanding of connectivity optics but also in knowing the offerings of cloud providers. The demarcation points of a telco service are now extending into Microsoft and Amazon cloud services. Understanding how to tailor is really important.
GM: How difficult is for an organisation like Telia Carrier to adapt to the new market demands?
MM: We ensure all our sales engineers have a baseline certification for all the core cloud services as well as being able to deliver great solutions from the network point of view. We spend a lot of time talking about cloud connectivity but we’re still selling capacity on our network and the cloud [connection] may be just one site on the customer’s 30 or more site network.
It’s an interesting and exciting challenge to find the skillset who understands the networks and can discuss cloud expectations as well. We have been finding great people where we can but also upskilling and training our existing workforce.
GM: What steps should enterprises go through to ensure they have the best performance available for the most competitive price?
MM: One of the things we see and we’re trying to address is that the network is often left as an afterthought which means network architects are left with the challenge of being told: here’s our cloud architecture, it’s going live in six weeks.
The important thing to emphasise is don’t leave the network as an afterthought because there can be significant downsides such as security and compliance issues or low end user adoption if preparation is not done properly. Having that as a conscious thought during the design phase of the entire enterprise architecture is really important.
In terms of value for money, there are use cases that suggest you should go straight to private connectivity. The public internet is a good way to start if you’re looking for lower bandwidth, it’s fantastic if you’re using a tier one ISP like us.
GM: What about private networks?
MM: It’s quite a nuanced situation at the moment. For the majority of apps, latency is key and direct connections and the public internet won’t have a huge degree of variance but there might be issues with consistency. Enterprises should be very conscious of the different types of applications they’re running. They should take advantage of SD-WAN if the application requires routing over a private link into the cloud to improve performance. However, for other apps, the public internet is going to be fine.
GM: How do you see the situation developing and maturing over the next two years or so?
MM: The network catches up to cloud adoption. I also think we’ll see the rise of networking services from cloud providers themselves. Microsoft Azure has offered vWAN services for 18 months and Amazon has its Global Accelerator offering.
These are offering commercial services to their own customers which, in a traditional way would border on what a telco can offer. However, enterprise customers are using multi-cloud set-ups and those large cloud provider groups do not make it particularly easy to move data around other cloud platforms. Enterprises don’t want to over-commit to a single vendor so this is an interesting trend that’s developing.