Most businesses take infrastructure for granted: go to a supplier, take a contract and forget about it. But what do you do when you need to expand your connectivity? Colt Technology Services, which specialises in scalable infrastructure, discussed the challenge with us.

“The ‘born in the cloud’ firms that so often disrupt well-established industries aren’t encumbered by legacy infrastructure like their incumbent counterparts,” said Colt CEO Carl Grivner. “This allows them to create brand new business models from scratch without worrying about disrupting their own business, taking the fight straight to the competition.”

Infrastructure is the root of a network, but that means that it often fades into the background; this legacy infrastructure of private wires and dedicated cables is difficult to expand when needed, especially as the business world adopts agile workflows.

Mike South, a Colt product manager, said, “Given the increasingly critical nature of business cloud apps, a reliable and secure network connection is essential, and as technology facilitates a more ‘service-on-demand’ culture, networks must provide different flavours of connectivity, speeds, and resilience on tap.”

The on-demand culture can be seen in the consumer world – Netflix, YouTube and Twitter – and in the workplace – adjusting storage or compute requirements in real-time. “On demand networking matches those capabilities and features,” said Colt CTO Rajiv Datta.

South again: “In terms of management, there’s one technology causing a significant shift in terms of business model: Software Defined Networking (SDN). Once a customer has brought their service onto the network, they can enjoy sophisticated self-provisioning of new cloud services, and can typically manage the bandwidth allocations themselves, no carrier involved.”

Managing bandwidth in real-time is a key differentiator for on-demand networking, with many use cases. Joachim Sinzig, portfolio manager at Colt, has a list of examples of where the company has successfully introduced scalable bandwidth. These include a film festival that required a high-speed connection to Hollywood for just 10 days; a fire safety form, creating complex simulations in the cloud, which needs to move significant amounts of data once every few weeks; and an augmented reality developer requiring a 100Gbps connection – but only when moving data to and from its US site.

Modernising business infrastructure can bring provable benefits: not only in the use cases above, but in the ability to take advantage of new services and applications. As Grivner says, “Imagine if Blockbuster had adopted online streaming to compete with Netflix, which now has more subscribers than cable TV: maybe the story would be different.”