On-demand networking is the practice of providing extra bandwidth for a business as and when needed; for example, to support temporary periods of high demand. But what wider use cases does it have?

During Computing’s most recent web seminar on the topic, Colt’s Mike South said that on-demand is about more than “Just flexing [bandwidth]…It’s a new kind of customer journey.”

Cost efficiencies are an important part of on-demand, but they are only one piece of the puzzle. Customers can save in other ways, especially in terms of time and effort:

“Dealing with a portal rather than paper order forms; having 20 bits of information to input into the order rather than 250; delivery not needing chasing up – it’s delivered, automatically. There’s all those soft benefits as well. It’s an overall more efficient model [and] there are definitely use cases where savings can be made; it’s not just about cost saving,” said South.

A poll conducted with audience members during the websem showed that increasing customer or employee performance was the most popular reason for a business to upgrade bandwidth (38 per cent), with VOIP or unified comms coming in joint third (15 per cent). Lack of bandwidth is a relatively common problem affecting VOIP services.

Luke Braham of Red, a Colt customer, found the stat interesting, and suggested the ability to prioritise certain types of network traffic:

“Ultimately, you’d probably put email down to low priority because there’s a delay in it getting there eventually anyway; whereas a voice or video call is then and there… I’d love to be able to say ‘Right, okay, we haven’t got quite enough, let’s increase; let’s go up to over a gig and put all of that into voice’.

“I think with cloud PBX adoption, which is a big thing at the moment – and this is coming from a staffing agency that does nothing but make phone calls all day long – I’d love to be able to say ‘Let’s prioritise voice traffic over our network’. I mean obviously we have dedicated circuits for voice but we’re on-premise. It’s the only thing we have left on-premise, our telephony circuits. Once we move that to the cloud completely I need to be able to prioritise those voice packets.”

We think that VOIP providers would love the idea, because issues are often incorrectly diagnosed as their fault, when in fact they are the result of low bandwidth – making it the carrier’s problem. Colt is currently discussing a tool like this as part of its longer-term roadmap, South said.