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The Connectivity Circle – Key takeaways (Part 1)

Understanding China’s internet landscape and a solution for your middle mile challenges.

It’s been a week since Globalinternet met with over 30 network and technology professionals, all eager to learn from each other and from key industry experts about the transformation of enterprise networks and the specific challenges within their own digital journeys.

Having taken part in this industry – and its evolution – for over 20 years, I am always surprised by how much there’s still to learn. The market moves fast, technologies even faster, and in this first part of a longer post, I’d like to share what were my key takeaways from this day.

China’s internet landscape – it’s not about what you cannot do, but what you can (and who can help you make it happen).

Funnily enough, this presentation started with a slide of “things that you know about China’s internet – and things that you might not know”. To be fair, I didn’t know that there are over 75.000 licensed telecom businesses in China, and that more than 3.000 are ISPs. Many of these are very local with limited coverage. Even the “big three*" have their own strengths depending on the region.

My takeaways from the first session:

  • Even the “big three” leverage a large network of ISPs in the regions where they are not strong – and they don’t connect much with each other.
  • Partnering with professional and reliable local vendors is key to address the Chinese (fire)wall and navigate the complexity of China’s internet. For this, “seeing is believing” plays an important role, due to the large number of licensed providers, as mentioned above.
  • While your business might be compliant with MIIT regulations, you must educate your users to avoid potential issues.

SD-WAN in itself is not a magic solution for everything – there are still some middle mile issues to fix (and good news: they can be fixed)

Though many of our attendees were keen on learning about China, our middle mile presentation quickly became one of the stars of the show. It’s been mentioned many times how an internet-based network is key to get the most of your SD-WAN, but still that “middle mile” and what we call “internet weather” play a key part in the performance and quality of our customers’ global networks.

My takeaways from the middle mile presentation:

  • Though SD-WAN has WAN acceleration capabilities, it can only fully optimise at the edge. In addition, SD-WAN implementations can be point-to-point and site-to-site centric, not handling multi-cloud and SaaS well enough.
  • The combination of SD-WAN and middle mile optimisation solutions might be the best alternative to achieve quality, performance and reliability of your networks – and at a much lower cost than MPLS. Understanding this can easily convince you to leave behind your legacy MPLS.
  • Real-world results were clear in showing hard-to-believe improvements in the quality of the networks, including latency, packet loss and overall bandwidth - all by using a middle mile solution provider [see example below].
Test result – simulated VoIP calls from Amsterdam to Manila
Test result – simulated VoIP calls from Amsterdam to Manila

Graphic above: Real-world example: Test result – simulated VoIP calls from Amsterdam to Manila. Average packet loss with middle mile solution (green) and without middle mile solution (red).

And there's more.

The afternoon continued with a panel discussion about Elekta’s SD-WAN journey. Globalinternet has been a partner of Elekta along this process and I was honoured to sit together with Elekta and technology provider, Videns IT to discuss this process.

More on this on my next post.

*China's Big Three: China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom