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Hybrid networks: multinationals get to grips with the cost/performance trade-off

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I had the pleasure of meeting BT’s Richard Wade at a recent event in London. Richard is very approachable for someone so busy and was keen to hear about conversations that I was having with people like you (people with responsibility for global corporate networks). Richard and I share a common third-level schooling background of Physics and Electronics. Given that, we might have geeked-out. Instead we discussed the explosion in demand for business-grade internet services. I enjoyed our chat so much that I suggested a follow-up chat, but this time interview-style. Here it is…

Steve: Hi Richard. What’s your role and how long have you worked for BT?

Richard: I’ve been with BT for more years than I care to remember. But my career here has let me pursue a range of roles; starting with engineering and solution design in the labs, through to spells in marketing and product development and ending up doing more general product management. I love the variety of my role – owning a profit and loss, investment planning, product feature development and sales support for our global internet portfolio. And in the last year I took on responsibility for our global MPLS product. These are exciting times for internet products as we see an increasing demand from our business customers.

Steve: What do you think are the most significant challenges facing CIOs and network managers in global organisations today?

Richard: We’re going through a time of change. More people are using internet networks and there’s a new generation of versatile CPE at the edge. SD-WAN solutions now offer more flexibility in the solutions available to organisations and how they build their global networks. Plus there’s a continued shift of applications to the cloud which is changing traffic and usage patterns. The challenge is seeing how this will all settle down. And working out the right time to invest in these new technologies, all at a time when most organisations are facing cost and investment pressure.

Steve: What is BT’s strategy to support customers facing these challenges? How does network connectivity play into that?

Richard: MPLS very much remains an important VPN solution with quality of service for application prioritisation. With cloud service integrators like BT pre-building direct MPLS connectivity to cloud providers, its importance is actually increasing. At the same time we’re facilitating the move to hybrid networks through breakout to internet (via cloud gateways) and we’re increasingly offering mixed MPLS and internet solutions. How critical a customer site is, the acceptable trade-off of cost, performance, service-level agreements, geographic availability, etc.; all play a part in the hybrid solutions we recommend to our customers.

Steve: A question I get asked regularly is ‘why would I consider a single global provider for my internet connectivity’?

Richard: My view is ease of contracting, management, having multiple sites on single network for best performance…BT does the peering to all major cloud providers at over 30 locations around the world. So, we can offer a range of cloud-service connections from MPLS connectivity, secure internet gateways or direct internet access.

So, from my conversation with Richard it seems the internet has become a viable global connectivity solution for businesses of all sizes. Its use being fuelled by exploding bandwidth use, the move to cloud and the promise of next-generation technologies, such as SD-WAN.

When I asked Richard for a final comment, this is what he said:

Richard: I’d like everyone to take away the message that at BT, we’re uniquely positioned to serve multinationals as they strive to balance cost with productivity. And meet their dynamic business needs in challenging global markets with our portfolio of connectivity services.

Richard looks after our flagship global MPLS and internet products globally as General Manager for BT IP Connect & BT Internet Connect.

Adding internet into your corporate network mix is the first step on your four-step journey to a future network – read more here.

Steve Coakley

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