Quality Technology Services (QTS) held the inaugural QTS Richmond NAP Summit, playing host to upwards of 300 executives and government representatives in May to discuss the wide-ranging impact of the MAREA and BRUSA submarine cables. Executives from Facebook, Telxius (the subsidiary of Telefonica which operates the cable) and enterprise customers were among those on hand at QTS’ facility at 6000 Technology Blvd in Sandston, Virginia.
MAREA and the need for route diversity
A variety of presentations and panels were held at the Summit. Vinay Nagpal, president of data center and network consultancy firm Interglobix, led a discussion of the impact of the topic of the two submarine cables, with Facebook’s VP of network engineering, Najam Ahmad explaining that a need for diversity of routes for network traffic management led the company to decide on the Virginia Beach location for the MAREA cable landing. The cable partners were looking for a location south of Ashburn, VA, and while Florida was an option from a geographic perspective, weather (in the form of hurricanes) would impact facility resilience, and North Carolina was limited in terms of the environmental impact construction would have on the inner and outer banks of the state.
Having major peering points in Marseilles and other locations on the other side of the Atlantic was also important to Facebook, a point echoed by Frank Rey, director of global network strategy for Microsoft. As an aside, although Amazon Web Services is not an investor in the cable, AWS has taken capacity on MAREA this year.
Interconnection to submarine networks isn’t only a factor for hyperscale cloud providers like Microsoft, which invested in MAREA after Superstorm Sandy highlighted a need for network route diversity on the Eastern seaboard. Mid-Atlantic Broadband Communities Corp. (MBC) is a network services provider providing 1900 route miles of wholesale Layer 2/3 transport over fiber in Southern Virginia. MBC’s role in linking the less populous southern portion of Virginia is crucial and having more route diversity is important for them as well, with MBC now having three routes into the QTS NAP and more options for moving traffic north as well as across the Atlantic, according to Tad Deriso, president of MBC.
Chris McKee, general counsel and EVP of corporate development for GTT, noted that despite having four cables (including the fastest route transatlantic route from New York to London), the company has customers asking for alternative bypass routes. The MAREA and BRUSA cable along with the QTS NAP provide that alternative, with GTT’s SDN capabilities making it easier for customers to control application traffic flows between different paths.
Taking advantage of new interconnection points
Once network traffic crosses the Atlantic, the next issue is efficient and reliable delivery to end users across the North American continent. Using interconnection and peering strategies for traffic management was another topic of discussion, with Paul Emmons, founder of Ninja-IX, discussing ways to localize traffic by creating regional internet traffic exchange points (IXPs).
End User Perspective: enterprises driving need for global connectivity
- Deborah Cassidy, CIO of PRA Group in Virginia, heads up a DevOps oriented group of developers. She noted that the firm, which runs six call centers and also has operations in Europe, is moving applications from their datacenter to an unspecified cloud provider. With 8PB of data under management, application responsiveness is imperative.
- Bob Fowler is CIO of Estes Express Lines, a transportation company with 19,000 employees, 8,000 trucks, and 30,000 trailers at 200 locations. Fowler says the company still has a homegrown application running on an IBM mainframe. Customers want to have real-time information on where shipments are, but it’s not possible with the current application, he said. There’s a move towards a hybrid approach to applications that will be underpinned by microservices; with two BPO contractors and a development center in India, addressing the network latency issue will be key to the success of his company’s transformation efforts.
Resilience and performance are as much a key need for enterprise customers as it is for the hyperscale cloud operations of companies like Facebook and Microsoft. Examples such as those of PRA Group and Estes Express Lines represent the tip of the iceberg for the future growth of traffic across new submarine cable routes.
Edge Research Group participated in this event in partnership with Structure Research. This post was not paid for by QTS or other event sponsors.