tw telecom’s Intelligent Network Third Phase Takes Shape: Constellation Platform to Connect Resources to Customers On-Demand

Brian Washburn
Brian Washburn

Summary Bullets:

  • tw telecom is gearing up to release its Constellation Platform, promising click-and-connect links to third-party data centers and resident cloud providers.
  • Constellation Platform details are still under wraps, but tw telecom will likely succeed in raising the bar for customers’ on-demand service expectations.

When it comes to cloud services, the largest U.S. incumbent network providers are all-in: AT&T with its Synaptic line of services, Verizon with its acquisition of Terremark, and CenturyLink with its acquisition of Savvis. Many smaller providers by contrast are split on their cloud services approach. Windstream and EarthLink Business are examples of network providers that are developing data centers and cloud services in-house. Sprint’s entry into the cloud has been through a partnership with CSC. However, there are also competitors such as tw telecom and Lightpath that choose to stay away from building and selling in-house cloud services: They would prefer to be impartial agents serving a large audience of third-party data center and cloud services providers. Of these, tw telecom in particular has invested in network tools, with the goal of becoming a more flexible network provider of cloud connectivity.

tw telecom began executing on a three-part plan to build Intelligent Networks back in 2012. The provider first introduced its Enhanced Management feature, which provided customers with end-to-end network visibility and control. It followed on with the release of its Dynamic Capacity feature, which gave customers control over point-to-point bandwidth between two established locations, with the ability to dial the capacity up and down as needed.

tw telecom is now gearing up to release its third and final phase, a feature it is calling the Constellation Platform. Where Dynamic Capacity offered flexible bandwidth between two established locations, tw telecom’s Constellation Platform promises to let enterprise customers set up secure connections into data centers on a “click and connect” basis. With the cooperation of data center operators attached to tw telecom’s networks, it will even be possible for customers to click and connect directly into resident cloud applications. There are still many details for tw telecom to disclose as it readies Constellation Platform for commercial services, such as:

  • Whether on-demand bandwidth will be fully dedicated (with class of service used to prioritize internal traffic)  or shared (with class of service determining overall traffic performance);
  • Whether bandwidth will be provisioned to a customer’s end location, or via an in-network gateway connecting the customer’s enterprise network;
  • What top-end limitations there are for receiving on-demand bandwidth into data centers;
  • How many data centers and their resident cloud applications providers will sign on for full end-to-end on-demand provisioning at Constellation Platform’s launch; and
  • How tw telecom will package and price this new feature for customers once it becomes generally available.

tw telecom has begun demonstrating a prototype of its Constellation Platform in action, with a public debut of the prototype feature taking place in New York City this week (June 10-13). While questions remain of what the final version of Constellation Platform will look like, tw telecom is definitely doing its part to raise the bar on customer expectations of what it means to be a flexible, nimble provider of network services.

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