Colt Technology Services is tapping into SDN for not only its own network and services but also for orchestrating services across multiple providers' networks.
In order to break the shackles of the legacy, appliance-based approach en route to creating a dynamic software-centric, cloud-based approach, Colt Technology Services Group Ltd (London: COLT), AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)} and Orange -- along with the TM Forum and MEF -- announced earlier this year that they were partnering on orchestrated services by developing a set of standardized APIs for industry-wide use. (See Colt, AT&T, Orange Partner on Orchestrated Services and AT&T, Colt, Orange Team with SDOs on Global API Standards.)
The first APIs, which are slated to be finished by the end of this year, are targeted towards orchestrated Carrier Ethernet services.
In this Telco Transformation Q&A, Colt Technology Services' Peter Coppens, director of Ethernet and IP products, talked about the partnership with AT&T and Orange, as well as customers' reactions to Colt's Ethernet-on-demand service. In Part I, Coppens gave a detailed account of Colt's Ethernet-on-demand offering. (See Coppens: Ethernet On-Demand Key to Colt's SDN Plans.)
Telco Transformation: Can you give us an update on the partnership with AT&T and Orange that is developing APIs for Carrier Ethernet?
Peter Coppens: We have done all the capability testing and we're defining the API standards with them so the real work has begun. It's not live yet for customer deployment. For example Orange -- as far as I know -- has not pushed anything to their customers, so we cannot buy it from them. They are in an app phase in this space.
Some of the US carriers are further ahead, but on the European side the interworking [between carriers] has been slow. We're not yet able to buy from Orange, or Orange buy from us via the API binding us together, but it's our intention to go that way. It hasn't been made operational yet. That will be the next step, obviously, to go that way.
TT: AT&T does have Carrier Ethernet services, so it seems like it would be more likely for Colt and AT&T to provision services across each other's networks?
PC: Yeah, AT&T is a customer so they are definitely interested. We have done all the testing with them and it was successful. (See AT&T, Colt Connect on API Interface Trial.) The interoperability testing was one of the first reported.
I think the whole telecom industry is long overdue for automation. It's probably one of the technology industries that in some aspects, especially in Europe, is still quite slow in terms of processes. There's lots of paper work and lots of mental work. It's not being done a lot right now.
TT: Circling back to Colt's Ethernet-on-demand service, one of the other benefits mentioned in the press release earlier this year was that it enabled businesses' digital transformation. Do you have to explain to them how this helps? Do they understand pretty much how it works and why they should want it? How do you educate them on the product?
PC: They definitely understand how it works after you show it to them. In two minutes you can do a demo and it's really as easy as buying a flight online. It's really easy and they understand it.
The other question is a good one. Normally, when we talk about it with them the first reaction is, "Is this real? Is it just a demo portal, or is this real?" You have to say "No, it's real, you can do it. The operation is live." Then they can check off the first hurdle.
Then they start thinking "Oh yeah, how will this work commercially? How will this work process-wise in terms of ordering? Who signs it off?" They start thinking about external processes that maybe the initial transformation process enabled.
Of course they have made the journey once already when they started to buy cloud services. It's [Carrier Ethernet] also a much more automated process. It's now something that has to be brought to the telecom world. There's definitely work to do. A lot of customers are real interested in it. The biggest barrier we have to overcome is the education. That it's real, and that they have to start thinking how can they now deploy this, because it's really a completely new territory.
— Mike Robuck, Editor, Telco Transformation