Coming Sooner or Later: The First Fully Virtualized Global Carrier

Brian Washburn
Brian Washburn

Summary Bullets:

  • Can a startup build global WAN facilities using nothing but the cloud? It may be impractical, but economics are trending toward possible.
  • Despite serious roadblocks today, the idea of sourcing/scaling facilities on-demand, and using them on a pay-as-you-use basis, seems tempting.

As a thought exercise, imagine what network function virtualization (NFV) will look like when the technology reaches its theoretical end state. Instead of switch/routers running on purpose-built hardware, the routing function could run entirely on software in virtual machines. These virtual machines in turn run on generic high-performance computing platforms located in large regional data centers and strategically distributed worldwide. What’s more, those large regional data centers happen to have plenty of competitive fiber linking them. That means plenty of carrier competitors to offer commodity priced, flexible high-performance switched Ethernet connectivity between sites. The result is a completely virtual global WAN operator, one that can ramp up and tear down both router horsepower and corresponding capacity, based on customer need. There would be no networking sunk costs – the primary investment would be in orchestration software, and in operations support/billing systems. Continue reading “Coming Sooner or Later: The First Fully Virtualized Global Carrier”