Historically, enterprise telecom networks have been built from a collection of private lines of varying speeds (usually lower speeds like DS3/OC3/OC12 and sometimes OC48) accumulated over time. Circuits are purchased by multiple buyers, in multiple departments, supporting multiple programs and applications, using multiple service providers – sometimes even for a single circuit! Each time a user needed more capacity between two points in the network, they ordered another circuit. Often, the network may be the result of multiple M&A activities.
The result, sometimes known as a Spaghetti Network, can be unwieldy, difficult to manage, easy to lose track of, hard to upgrade, and probably won’t exhibit optimal economics or performance. For example, rapidly and efficiently doubling the capacity of a Spaghetti Network can be very challenging – suppliers’ private line rings may be full, often because they also serve nodes associated with other customers. Individual circuit upgrades may require activities by up to three suppliers – A-end access, Intercity, and Z-end access. Imagine trying to double the thickness of each strand of spaghetti after it’s been mixed in the pot!
Diversity and latency are also very hard to control in a legacy Spaghetti Network. Private line work and protect paths are often interchanged. Providers may groom circuits to different rings or network layers, unpredictably impacting both path and latency.
Lastly, enterprises purchasing private line services from multiple providers can never be completely sure those providers are diverse from each other. Are there overlaps in their metro networks? Or maybe overlaps in their intercity networks? Most insidiously, does one provider’s metro network overlap the other provider’s intercity network? Do providers share the same building entrance or riser? Did one provider buy fiber from the other provider?
The legacy networks present some real challenges to an enterprise IT department focused on delivering high quality, uninterrupted application performance – whether connecting business offices, data centers or cloud service providers – while trying to scale to support ever-expanding bandwidth demands on shrinking budgets.
For many enterprises, a next-generation custom optical network could overcome critical shortcomings of legacy Spaghetti Networks. Fact is, Level 3 has deployed hundreds of custom optical networks that address all the challenges I’ve described. In my next post, we’ll take a deeper dive into how this new breed of network infrastructure model can enable a more scalable and effective approach to enhancing your network capabilities. Stay tuned for more, next week!