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Grappling with private WAN provisioning delays in the on-demand era

Long lead times are not a new problem in private WAN provisioning, but enterprises are feeling the pain of those delays more acutely.

This article can also be found in the Premium Editorial Download: Network Evolution: WAN 2.0: Say goodbye to network provisioning delays:

Please tell me I'm not alone in this: I've come down with a bad, possibly irreversible case of instant gratification-itis. And I lay the blame squarely at the feet of two individuals: Jeff Bezos and Kevin Spacey.

Let's proceed with the first indictment. (Stay with me here. This absolutely ties in to networking.)

I received a first-generation Kindle Fire as a Christmas gift several years ago. The Kindle in question came with a 30-day trial of Amazon Prime, introducing me to free two-day shipping from Amazon.com. To say I was immediately hooked would be a gross understatement. We don't have a car -- a side effect of urban living -- so getting practically anything delivered to our door in 48 hours felt almost magical. Our household's order history soon looked like our Amazon accounts had been ransacked by a wealthy third-grader, a wannabe food blogger and an agoraphobe. Our doorbell rang several times a week to announce the arrival of Blu-Rays, video games, a comic-book omnibus, vegetarian cookbooks, a pizza stone, miso paste, memory foam pillows, cat food, AA batteries, laundry detergent and winter gloves.

Very quickly, I found myself getting annoyed that a six-count package of paper towels was not eligible for Prime shipping. So thanks, Jeff Bezos, for making a weekend trip to Target seem impossibly inconvenient.

The second charge, the one against Kevin Spacey, should technically be targeted at Frank Underwood, the devilish protagonist played by Spacey in Netflix's highly addictive original series House of Cards. Like much of America, I've lost whole weekends to binge-watching the latest seasons of the show. And more importantly, not being able to binge-watch the entire new season of any show now feels like pure agony (I'm looking at you, The Walking Dead).

When I was working on the cover story ("The WAN connection waiting game: Engineers long for faster provisioning") for our latest edition of Network Evolution, our culture of instant gratification loomed in the back of my mind. Engineers have long suffered with extensive lead times for private wide area network (WAN) provisioning -- it can take months to get a new MPLS connection installed. Lengthy provisioning times are not a new problem; in fact, they have shortened somewhat over time. And yet it is the one complaint that comes up over and over again when I ask network engineers about their biggest challenges on the job.

So, are long lead times for private WAN connectivity a bigger problem than before, or do they just feel that way because we're used to getting everything on demand, be it a cloud-hosted server, a new vacuum cleaner or the latest episode of Orange Is the New Black?

In my completely unscientific opinion, it would seem the former is true. Bandwidth demand always increases every year, but the rapidly rising tide of video and cloud traffic over the past few years has put more pressure on WANs. Enterprises are feeling the pain more acutely. And while some of these delays are and will continue to be a fact of life, our lead story looks at several promising alternatives on the horizon.

Also in this issue of Network Evolution, contributor Steve Zurier dives into the latest trend around video conferencing analytics ("New analytics tools help track video conferencing usage"), which is helping enterprises be more strategic in how they expand or otherwise modify an existing video conferencing deployment. Additionally, TechTarget's Gina Narcisi takes a look at the state of wireless networking education--or rather, the lack of it, and the subsequent wireless skills gap on many IT teams ("Gaps remain in wireless networking education, but need for skills grows").

As always, don't miss this edition of "The Subnet," in which one network engineer describes what happened when the number of locations his network had to support ballooned from 110 to more than 230 in one year ("Why one IT pro’s network upgrade led him from Cisco to Dell").

Next Steps

SDN WANs promise network programmability, automated provisioning

Learn why one firm dumped MPLS for orchestrated broadband WAN

SDN in optical networks: Has automated provisioning arrived?

This was last published in March 2015

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