SDN and the MAREA Project: What you need to know


What is MAREA? In case you haven’t heard, it’s a new initiative designed to lay miles of fiber optic cable under the Atlantic Ocean that may impact both telecom companies and content providers in a significant way.

On the surface, this may seem like just another expansion for the major tech companies. WIRED reported that Facebook and Microsoft are both working on the 4,000-mile (6,600km)-long cable together, a cross-continental initiative that could help save money while increasing bandwidth rates.

These large enterprise businesses will also own the new lines as opposed to paying for space on other shared connections, as has previously been the norm. Once completed, the cable should allow Facebook and Microsoft to transmit data at a rate as high as 160 terabits per second, a huge leap forward that would set a new standard for bandwidth.

This isn’t just a technical achievement, though: It’s a sign of how the entire client/telecom model is evolving (or transforming). In that respect, MAREA shares some similarities with SDN, since both are signaling a new, faster-paced approach to business that goes against previous expectations.

Most enterprise companies (except the biggest of big companies) don’t want—and can’t afford—to get into the business of network. That said, enterprise companies do share the desire for better and quicker control of their networks.

Perhaps Microsoft, Facebook and Google can address that by putting their own network assets into place. Contrarily, most enterprise customers are going to look for self-service, On Demand, pay as you use networks provided by their telecoms.

Despite this, telecom companies might have some reservations.

Because pairing SDN with a more dynamic pricing model is new and different, telecom leaders could be hesitant to take the plunge.

To them, the question is: “Where’s the ROI? Can I launch this without taking away from my current product set?”

While this might seem daunting and cannibalistic, there is plenty of opportunity for revenue through improved market share.

However, to take advantage of this, stakeholders need to start laying the groundwork by investigating SDN solutions that will match the new approach to networking.

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