As easy as it is to get services from the cloud, so hard it can be to get matching connectivity. The explosive growth of (hybrid) cloud solutions has created a different demand for connectivity. Flexibility is key: connectivity has to be easy to set up, modify and disable.
Three years ago, hardly any provider was able to meet this demand in the Netherlands. The Eurofiber Group was of the opinion that this demand had to be met. In 2017 a proof of concept of an interconnectivity platform between data centers based on software defined networking was developed. The idea for DCspine was born. Jeanine van der Vlist, CCO of the Eurofiber Group and Jan Michiel Berkel, director of DCspine, look back on the origin and future of DCspine as part of the nomination of DCspine for a Computable Award.
The delivery model of cloud services has drastically changed the expectations end users have,’ says Van der Vlist. Users expect easy (online) ordering and on demand delivery. Anyone that wants to use cloud services assumes that connectivity is just as easy to set up as the cloud services themselves. The delivery time of traditional connectivity products, averaging 8 to 10 weeks, is too long for cloud service users.’
Because connectivity for cloud services mainly takes place between data centers, the idea arose to develop a platform that would allow data center connectivity to be delivered on demand, scalable and flexible. It soon became obvious that new technologies had become stable and reliable enough to set up a completely new software-defined network between data centers, on top of the existing Eurofiber dark fiber network, so that connectivity could be offered completely flexibly to customers.
The question arose as to how this proposition should be put on the market: as a service under the Eurofiber label or a new branch of the Eurofiber Group? The latter option prevailed.
‘DCspine’s proposition is unique and we felt it was crucial to give DCspine ample opportunity to develop,’ says Van der Vlist. DCspine, led by Jan Michiel Berkel (general director) and Arjan Kunstman (technical director), was set up as an independent organization in order to achieve rapid innovation. Jan Michiel has been involved in the development of DCspine as Eurofiber’s corporate development manager from the outset. His commercial instinct and insight were indispensable for this innovation. Arjan Kunstman was extrenally involved because of his extensive and advanced knowledge of networks and the crucial expertise he brought to the table. Arjan was also very capable of incorporating the end-user perspective into the design of the DCspine platform, which greatly benefited the service.’
A flying start
DCspine has been in business for almost two years now and has far exceeded expectations. Jan Michiel Berkel: ‘The customer base has grown much faster than expected and almost 70 Dutch (multitenant) data centers are connected. This means that over 90% of the cloud and managed service providers in the Netherlands can be reached with the DCspine platform. This makes the platform and its reach among service providers unique. Our success has not gone unnoticed abroad. That’s why we’ve expanded to Belgium and we’re looking to make DCspine available in multiple countries.
The success of DCspine is not only due to the innovation itself, says Berkel. We sometimes say that we offer connectivity with the convenience of an app store. This ease of use is an essential part of our success. But it is also very important that we were able to make a flying start thanks to the support of the Eurofiber Group. We were given ample opportunity to innovate and were encouraged to involve Eurofiber’s expertise and resources. That helped a lot, both during the development phase as well as during and after the launch. With more than 30 data centers connected to the DCspine platform at the moment we launched, we were able to convince the market of the ease of use and innovative character of our services.’