Delivering A Scalable Network Foundation for the Application Economy 

5 July 2019 | Melissa Margolius, Senior Director, Wholesale Sales, CenturyLink Asia Pacific

As transformative developments in 5G and the Internet of Things (IoT) gather pace, network service providers need to rethink how their networks are deployed, operated and managed.  

For today’s digital businesses, applications are the engine that powers growth — at the frontlines of innovation, process improvement and customer support. Applications that demand real-time data processing and continuous, uninterrupted network availability.
Enterprises need to quickly evolve from the inflexible, purpose-built networks of the past to the digital-ready infrastructure of the future.
New IoT and 5G network developments will create even more data spread across billions of connected devices, machines and sensors. As the amount of applications grows, so must the speed at which data is processed. This will put tremendous pressure on legacy networks that are not designed to support the needs of the application economy. Enterprise networks therefore must evolve to handle the changing needs of customers—and empower companies to deliver a superior customer experience. 

Scaling up to address increased network requirements

Promising lower latency and faster network speeds, 5G networks will deliver the ubiquitous connectivity for enhanced consumer broadband services and for enterprises to run their businesses more efficiently. These developments are already taking shape across the Asia Pacific (APAC) region—with the likes of Australia, China, Japan and South Korea projected to be leaders in 5G deployments. According to GSMA, APAC is on pace to become the world's largest 5G region, reaching 675 million 5G connections by 2025.

As the technology develops, 5G networks will become integral to accommodating a wide range of new applications and industry use cases such as autonomous vehicles, smart utilities, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) applications and seamless machine-to-machine (M2M) communications.

By 20221

For network service providers, this means having to transform their network and data center strategy and scale up to meet the infrastructure demands of the application economy. Here are several strategic enablers to establish an adaptive, secure and scalable network foundation:

1. Leverage SDN/NFV technologies to deliver on-demand network scalability

Software-defined networking (SDN) technology and network function virtualization (NFV) remain the cornerstones for service providers to ensure their network infrastructure can respond to changing business demands.

Network scalability is a primary reason driving SDN adoption. Leveraging the latest SDN technology, network operators gain greater flexibility to scale up or down resources and dynamically provision bandwidth on-demand. If an application requires more bandwidth to perform as expected, it can be assigned from any connected network. 

A complementary technology to SDN, NFV adds a new dimension to how service providers can move beyond the traditional ways of building their networks and speed up the deployment of new services, by virtualizing networking devices and appliances.

2. Adopt edge computing to provision network resources closer to IoT devices

Data generated by IoT devices need to be sent back to data centers where it can be processed and analyzed. The growing trend is for enterprises to process data in real-time at the network edge to quickly gain insights from remote connected devices and make smarter decisions. Gartner estimates that by 2025, up to 75% of enterprise-generated data will be created and processed outside a traditional centralized data center or cloud.

As these demands escalate, edge computing capabilities will become critical to enabling faster data processing for improved application performance. Network service providers are ideally positioned to deliver the robust and secure carrier-grade infrastructure necessary for enterprise customers to accelerate their edge computing applications.

IoT use case of how edge computing can help reduce network latency and improve performance by shaving milliseconds of data processing time 
CenturyLink’s approach today is to build up our edge computing capabilities by deploying intelligent compute resources within our central offices around the world. By provisioning compute and storage closer to where the data is generated, we now provide our enterprise customers with intelligent caching of video content distribution and low-latency data processing for a much broader range of IoT applications. This allows us to not only optimize network loads, but also to unlock new revenue opportunities. 

3. Develop new monetization strategies for 5G-enabled enterprise applications

While 5G will certainly continue to enhance consumer mobile broadband services, the more lucrative opportunity for network service providers is in monetizing enterprise applications. In the APAC region, we expect to see 5G deployments being driven by new revenue streams such as connected autonomous vehicles and industrial IoT.
72% of industrial companies are willing to pay a premium for enhanced 5G connectivity.

Recent research findings from Capgemini indicate that 72% of industrial companies are willing to pay a premium for enhanced 5G connectivity. This presents a prime opportunity for telecom carriers and service providers to consider how they can adopt new approaches such as network slicing to build a profitable 5G business model.

Network slicing enables service providers to dynamically deploy virtual "network slices" over a common physical infrastructure to better cater for multiple use cases.

Through network slicing, operators can create new monetization models for IoT applications, with different tiers of services in terms of bandwidth, latency, speed and security attributes. For example, mission-critical applications such as asset monitoring or video surveillance in remote mining operations can benefit from having more data bandwidth and a high-availability network; other use cases include having a low-powered network slice to connect multitudes of sensors across a wide geographical area. As a result, network service providers are able to significantly reduce time-to-market for new 5G service offerings because fewer functions need to be deployed.

4. Embed multi-layered security measures into the network 

As digital businesses become increasingly distributed with data stored across multiple cloud infrastructures, network security becomes more critical than ever. Facing new threats ranging from highly sophisticated malware to distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, many organizations find themselves ill equipped to protect their infrastructure against such attacks. In fact, a survey conducted by 451 Research in May 2017 found that as many as 31% of IT leaders are unconvinced that their security regimes are adequate.  
Multi-layered network-based security solutions, backed by advanced threat intelligence and cybersecurity experts, is required to protect today’s enterprise infrastructure.
Network service providers need to adopt a connected security strategy, leveraging their network as a threat sensor to quickly identify, mitigate and respond to evolving cyber threats. Take the example of a DDoS attack. A network-based security solution provides immediate protection by rerouting malicious traffic into a scrubbing center, and ensure the legitimate traffic is sent without any service interruption.

CenturyLink® DDoS Mitigation provides layers of defense through enhanced network routing, rate limiting and filtering that can be paired with advanced network-based detection and mitigation scrubbing center solutions.

Learn why CenturyLink was positioned as a ‘Major Player’ in the 2019 IDC MarketScape for worldwide DDoS prevention solutions vendor assessment.

CenturyLink’s path to achieving network transformation  

Today’s networks are fast transforming from a monolithic array of one-dimensional technologies to a dynamic, always available platform. CenturyLink is well poised to support both our enterprise customers and wholesale partners to make that transition with our adaptive networking solutions, coupled with the breadth of our global network.

Source: CenturyLink Network Map, March 2018

450,000 route miles of fiber across 60+ countries to provide solutions for connectivity, cloud, security, voice, and managed services

Currently, our software-defined network manages and controls over 80,000 network devices worldwide. We are ready to bring that experience in deploying transformative services and diverse network designs to empower our wholesale partners and customers. Get in touch with us for an in-depth consultation about how we can accelerate your path to be a digital business today.       

1 Cisco Visual Networking Index: Forecast and Trends, 2017–2022 White Paper (updated Feb 2019)

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