IDC interview with Dr Thomas King, CTO, DE-CIX
Increasingly, effective and reliable networking is becoming a vital enabler for modern business models. For the study “Enterprise networks 2022: Connectivity-driven business in Germany”, IDC surveyed organizations about enterprise networking. The results reveal that many companies have recognized the value of connectivity and the importance of being interconnected, but in many cases, the state of their connectivity is not sustainable and is clearly in need of improvement, both within the organization and externally to partners and customers.
As part of the study, IDC also interviewed Dr Thomas King, CTO at DE-CIX. Here is a snapshot of the interview – you can get the rest by downloading the study executive brief.
What technological developments in particular should enterprises be watching closely at the moment?
Modern applications, from cloud-based office software to AI/ML in the cloud or Industry 4.0, need two things – a stable connection, and low latency. For applications such as virtual reality, remote surgery or autonomous driving, latency will have to be in the one-figure millisecond range, and therefore data processing will need to take place close to the end user. This is because there is a purely physical limitation, in that even with the most advanced network and transmission technology, data cannot travel at more than the speed of light. Based on this, the maximum distance to the next data center is around 80 kilometers. You therefore need data centers close to users, close to the edge.
Many of these new application fields also rely either on cloud resources or on the networking of various partners and suppliers. In this new world of hybrid IT infrastructure, interconnecting an enterprise network with other networks will play an increasingly significant role. A centralized approach, in which interconnection only works at specific digital hubs, is no longer able to meet these requirements.
What are the most common challenges facing your customers in their network transformation? Can you share your best practices on how to overcome them?
The use of several cloud providers and on-premise resources increases the complexity of enterprise IT landscapes. IT and network teams are faced with extra workloads as more and more cloud providers, physical data centers, enterprise sites, and external partners need to be interconnected. One possibility for reducing the burden on network experts is therefore automation. Internet Exchange operators are rising to the occasion by offering interconnection services via both API and self-service portals. This means that interconnection services can be booked just as easily as computing power from well-known cloud providers.
User experience, agility, and scalability requirements are constantly on the rise. How should enterprises set up their networks to be viable in the future?
We are mainly focusing on the connection of different networks, or interconnection as it is called. And we have identified an interesting trend: A growing number of enterprises are taking the matter of interconnection very seriously and no longer rely solely on one data center operator or telecommunications provider, but are opting to do it themselves, often with the support of an IT service provider. Nowadays, large enterprises have an interconnection strategy, and they have different requirements of interconnection to what we were familiar with in the past. In creating such a strategy, they should focus on “enterprise grade” interconnection that must meet some core requirements: A large interconnection ecosystem through which many other networks can be accessed; a distributed interconnection infrastructure for redundancy; service level agreements for specialized interconnection services such as direct cloud connections; and a data center and carrier neutral provider, to avoid vendor lock-in.
Let’s step a few years into the future: Will software-defined networking, network automation, and AI/ML become established practices in network operations over the next two to three years?
Absolutely! Even today, we are seeing enterprises, especially those that do not belong to our classic customer base, making use of automation, in the form of the IX-API, to flexibly order or adapt bandwidths. As the importance of connecting with external partners and resources will continue to mount, we aim to seamlessly integrate interconnection with other networks via the API into future SDN concepts and into the network automation of our customers.
The IDC study “Enterprise networks 2022: Connectivity-Driven Business in Germany” is no longer available.