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Enterprise Cloudification and Network Connectivity: A Telco Perspective


Traditionally, telcos have been in the business of providing connectivity. In this article, we look at the changing IT landscape and its impact on connectivity requirements from a telco’s perspective.

Enterprises choose connectivity solutions based on factors such as location, bandwidth, security concerns, application uptime and latency requirements. These requirements have been evolving to meet the needs of IT applications as digitization takes root in the organizations. In the past, Enterprises deployed IT infrastructure in their own premises. The IT department would plan, procure, operate, and maintain the infrastructure, applications, along with the local and wide area network. The applications were hosted in the data center in the head office which often served as the breakout point for internet access as well. Security was a major issue, and the data center perimeter was protected through intrusion prevention and detection systems, firewalls etc.

The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 changed everything. Nations were brought under successive lockdowns impacting enterprises, governments, educational institutions, healthcare facilities etc.  To ensure business continuity, the immediate response by organizations was implementation of remote working with secured and scalable collaboration solutions. Simple yet powerful, video conferencing solution providers like Zoom became popular with their innovative, intuitive platforms.  Availability of broadband networks and VPNs ensured that people were able to carry out their daily tasks through what started as “work from home” and transitioned into “work from anywhere”. More and more applications were hosted in the cloud and data centers were flooded with requirements by content and connectivity providers that enabled seamless working.

Covid also accelerated the adoption of Cloud mainly in the form of software as a service (SaaS). The India cloud business revenue nearly tripled from 1.8Bn.USD in 2017 to 4.8Bn.USD in 2021 and is expected to reach 13.5Bn.USD by 2026. In addition to hyperscalers like AWS, Microsoft Azure, Google, Oracle, more and more Indian entities like Yotta are setting up cloud infrastructure in India. Pay as use models as well as faster turn up of applications provided further impetus. Cloud growth is feeding data center growth. The Indian data center market size is projected to reach 1.5Bn. USD by 2022, and ~5Bn. USD by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 11.4%. Telcos are busy connecting fat pipes in the hundreds of Gigs to these ballooning data centers on the one side and software defined wide area networking (SDWAN) is emerging as the de-facto WAN solution while MPLS fades away in the new way application traffics is distributed.

The tremendous increase in volumes and need for faster processing is leading to a distributed computing architecture termed as edge computing. Data is processed near the source and reduces the need of bandwidth towards the core on the cloud. For example, video surveillance of a public area can be processed in an edge server and only processed information would be transferred to a central server on the cloud. For telcos, this plays out in the form of reduced bandwidth requirements but provides the opportunity to monetize small points of presence that can house edge servers and network connectivity.

With the evolution of “home to cloud” for remote working, “cloud to cloud” through internet/ leased connectivity, and “central office to cloud” over secure VPN etc., opportunities for telcos are in providing secure internet services through wired and wireless broadband, along with fat pipes into data centers. With sensitive data getting accessed through the public internet, security is now an essential ingredient, and telcos need to move away from providing “plain pipes” to “security enabled connectivity using software defined networking technologies”.

(The author is Mr. Pravir Dahiya, Sr. Vice- President, Network– Tata Teleservices and the views expressed in this article are his own)


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