Network Infrastructure

Rouleau of tw telecom Talks Cloud, Ethernet and the Connected Enterprise

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  April 25, 2012

This article originally appeared in the April 2012 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY magazine.

Service providers have compared and contrasted the benefits of intelligent networks vs. big dumb pipes for years, said Michael A. Rouleau, senior vice president of business development and strategy at tw telecom during his keynote speech at the recent ITEXPO (News - Alert) East. Rouleau should know, he’s been with tw telecom since November 1999 and spent the previous 15 years with US WEST’s data, Internet and DSL businesses. Today, he said, the answer as to which way to go is clear: “Big dumb pipes are not what enterprise customers are looking for.”

While traditional networks required organizations to sign five-year deals for fixed capacity, today’s enterprise customers can’t plan that far in advance. That’s because the applications customers want to support are changing rapidly. As a result, CIOs at businesses and other organizations are looking for flexibility, reliability, availability and expense control, he noted. Cloud-based services paired with Ethernet connectivity, he added, have arrived to enable customers to get the services and applications they want when they need them.

Indeed, a recent report from Vertical Systems indicates that carrier Ethernet services now have eclipsed the capacity of all business TDM services combined. And Ethernet continues to evolve, Rouleau said, noting that it started out as an access strategy for point-to- point services and Internet connectivity that could help businesses drive down their costs. Now, however, Ethernet is the enabling technology for what Rouleau called the connected enterprise.

In the connected enterprise, he explained, customers can support a cornucopia of voice, video and data services, and they can access applications and services that live at third-party and other data centers. That second part of the equation will only increase in value over time, Rouleau added, noting Cisco (News - Alert) Systems estimates that cloud computing will grow 12-fold and represent more than one-third of all data center traffic by 2015. By 2014, he continued, more than half of all workloads will be processed in the cloud, which he called “the tipping point.”

While some telecom outfits are buying data center companies in an effort to create “walled garden” cloud solutions, Rouleau said, tw telecom (News - Alert) is embracing a model of applications access and enablement. That involves providing customers with connectivity to great applications via a network that is secure, robust and predictable. Circling back to the theme of intelligent networking, he added that tw telecom is focused on giving enterprises visibility into their networks so they can manage applications end to end; enabling those customers to scale up their bandwidth immediately as needed (which even will include accepting prompts from applications on what bandwidth they require and when); and allowing organizations to prioritize certain traffic over their networks as desired.

This model, he said, will create a winning combination for service providers like tw telecom, application companies, and business customers.

Edited by Jennifer Russell