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SDN should enable Digital Service Providers to build better applications

In the last three years, communications service providers (CSPs) have been racing to keep ahead of explosive and radical changes in how enterprise clients focus on customer obsession

The pervasiveness and power of social media has completely redefined how people work and play online, while massive strides in mobile computing and digital transformation have spurred the world to demand higher standards of connectivity, service, product quality and accessibility.

Underpinning everything that is driving global change and the need for even more change is digital connectivity—the combined power of digitalisation and how people can be empowered to connect to it and exploit it. 

Whether it’s bringing digital content to consumers or business applications to enterprise end users, digital service providers (DSP) of all kinds are measured by their ability to deliver fast and reliable services that keep pace with increasing digitalisation.
 
Digitalisation without connectivity is impotent; connectivity with no demand for it is crippled. That is why, over time, CSPs are racing to become more like DSPs .

As digitalisation and connectivity are the crux of this race, three important criteria underpin how DSP must evolve to win in the long run:

1. Be digital to the core

DSPs must be fully digitalised internally in order to cater to the strategic and tactical demands of digitalised enterprise customers. This will keep that latter group happy because they are obsessed with keeping their ever-demanding end-users happy.
   
2. Offer best-in-class digital services

Be agile and obsessive in offering and improving innovative, high-quality digital solutions to enterprise-level and all other consumers down the line. 

3. Provide connectivity on demand

Be able to offer optimal, scalable connectivity and access to the IT services and networking capabilities on demand, to all levels of enterprise, through a seamless, secure and programmable network infrastructure. 

It is self-evident that the last criterion is an enabler for the first two, and the way forward is to leverage a best-in-class software-defined network (SDN) environment in which network functions are virtualised (NFV) and automated.

Better digital services through SDN

The proven and continually improving benefits of SDN are well established. 

Once implemented and fully operational, the DSP can ensure their applications and service have secure, high-performance connectivity to serve its enterprise customers. High speed connectivity will be available on demand to power digital products such as Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and any customer-facing applications. 
 
Furthermore, even the development of applications that offer digital services benefits from a software-defined infrastructure.

SDN facilitates agile DevOps and the widespread use of network application programming interfaces (APIs) to enhance and simplify development while reducing inefficiencies and complexities. This means faster access to the connectivity you need and improving service delivery performance.


There is a misconception that you “get some SDN” and that’s global networking solved. Many service providers present portals with sleek user interface and flexible solutions but have either limited coverage or average network expertise.

Integrated APIs and the end of SDN Islands

Application programming interface (API) is bringing new level of automation and programmability that goes beyond the traditional way of consuming network services. 

It allows multiple network service providers to offer a cohesive service across each other’s infrastructure, enabling self-provision on-demand connectivity across different networks seamlessly.

Likewise, DSPs can integrate network API onto their digital platforms and immediate get the connectivity they need to deliver services to the end users.

SDN can be threaded into their business model to drive greater results from a customer user perspective. With automated and programmable connectivity, DSPs can optimise the performance of their applications and services while having control over where and how they want to connect.

As an SDN provider’s networking ecosystem grows, network partners and DSPs stand to gain the benefit of connectivity to more locations, public cloud services and other networks. APIs not only provide a simple and fast way to manage network resources but continuously integrate new services as they are added to the SDN platform.

Even with the abundance of choice today, DSPs and enterprises must consider choosing partners with both carrier-grade network infrastructure and SDN capabilities. That is the only way to gain the full advantages of having a global connectivity partner.

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