When it comes to productive video, network service providers like Level 3 are what they eat -- so to speak. (See Defining Productive Video.)
"The golden rule of platforms," opined then-Google employee Steve Yegge just over five years ago, "is that you eat your own dogfood."
In his Q&A with Telco Transformation, Anthony Christie -- CMO of Level 3 Communications Inc. (NYSE: LVLT) -- related that Level 3 takes a similar attitude when it comes to its own internal video platforms.
In Part I of this two-part Q&A, Christie distinguished between video conferencing and telepresence -- addressing how Level 3 leverages those distinctions to quickly and efficiently train and educate thousands of employees spread out across dozens of countries. (See Level 3's Christie Talks Internal Video & Telepresence Training.)
Now, in Part II, Christie presents the rationale driving Level 3's internal productive video use -- particularly where IT teams and DevOps are concerned.
Telco Transformation: This past summer, your CTO, Andrew Dugan, told Telco Transformation about Level 3's DevOps evolution from traditional Agile methodology to Continuous Delivery (CD). Does video intrinsically lend itself well to CD methodology? What is Level 3 seeing here in terms of internal productive video's role in DevOps? (See Level 3: Embrace the DevOps Journey.)
Anthony Christie: As Andrew shared, our approach to DevOps at Level 3 is an extension of the Agile framework -- emphasizing frequent delivery, engagement with business leadership and willingness to pivot -- which is evolving into the mindset of CD. In other words, we're finding ways in the organization to make more frequent, reliable and rapid software deployments with the goal of increasing collaboration and adoption.
For us, this is the mindset that will accelerate the realization of Level 3's vision of ONE: one set of products that we take to an expanding market, one network to deliver those products globally, one set of operational support systems to enable a differentiated customer experience, and one team with a singular goal of making Level 3 the premier provider of enterprise networking services. Because DevOps strives to break down the walls that separate vital functions, video is vital to achieving that goal. (See Level 3's McReynolds Discusses Turning Up Virtualization With SDN & NFV.)
For us, there's a big push for video-based training in DevOps. The old approach to software development -- which traditionally afforded long lead times and ample user training -- is giving way to a new mindset. We're finding a growing reliance on "just-in-time" training methodologies, such as short video modules, to give employees the knowledge they need when they need it. This gives operational teams more consistency in their daily work, while still accommodating the ongoing changes facilitated by the work of the IT teams.
TT: To what extent does Level 3's specific role in the video-delivery value chain play a part in the company's own use of internal, productive video?
AC: To give you some perspective on volume of content, our CDN [content delivery network] answered 33.4 trillion requests for content in 2015. The growth in OTT and the bandwidth-heavy formats under that umbrella have spurred Level 3 to significantly expand our CDN capacity globally.
As of today, [we have:]
- More than 60 petabytes of origin storage, [comprising] approximately 798 years' worth of HD video,
- 42 Tbit/s of global IP network serving capacity,
- 21 Tbit/s of global IP network peering capacity,
- Direct connections to more than 185 professional and college stadiums across the US,
- Content delivery nodes on six continents in nearly 100 major metro cities,
- 15,000 CDN servers nationwide.
Additionally, Level 3 CDN delivered more than 10 exabytes of data globally in 2015.
Looking at Level 3's use of video, specifically, video is driving rapid and transformative change to the content we produce and distribute. There are advantages to our role as a global network services provider that we leverage internally. For example, level3.com is powered by Level 3's CDN platform. Within Level 3, in 2015, we logged more than 110,000 video plays by nearly 13,000 unique IPs. For comparison, in 2014, we logged approximately 50,000 plays by more than 10,000 IPs.
TT: With these factors in mind, what has been Level 3's primary driver behind Level 3's uses of productive video internally? Or, to put it another way, would you be doing this if you ran, say, a coffee shop, or an airline, instead of running networks?
AC: We have a saying here: "We should eat our own cooking." So, yes, we are wired to use these technologies extensively, internally. Level 3 has more than 15 years of experience tailoring CDN solutions for large global enterprises. We're keenly interested in the OTT landscape precisely because we deliver a lot of that content.
— Joe Stanganelli, Contributing Writer, Telco Transformation