By Contributing Editor, Kathy Xu
Grant Kirkwood is the Founder and CTO of Unitas Global, a leading provider of managed hybrid cloud solutions for enterprise organizations worldwide. Prior to founding Unitas Global, Grant served as CTO at PacketExchange, a global network service provider with 65 points of presence throughout North America, Europe and Asia. Previously, he was the founder and CTO at Mzima Networks, which operated a global IP backbone to serve the needs of media, entertainment and online content providers, and built a reputation as the performance leader in internet bandwidth solutions.
Grant is an accomplished speaker and industry analyst. Passionate about the intersection of technology and people’s lives, he believes that the proliferation of technology and global communications can improve the quality of life of people around the world.
Recently we sat down with Grant to discuss the use of Software-Defined Networking (SDN) to better enable multi-cloud connectivity, what exciting new developments we can expect from Unitas Global this year, and the company’s attendance at International Telecoms Week 2018, taking place May 6-9 in Chicago.
Data Center POST, Kathy Xu (DCP-KX) Question: How important is SDN for the industry and what is your company doing to implement and deploy this technology capability?
Unitas Global, Grant Kirkwood (UG-GK) Answer: Cloud computing is all about enabling agility to drive a competitive advantage. At a minimum, this means that infrastructure is made available to users nearly instantly via a self-service portal. At the same time, companies are recognizing the importance of a hybrid cloud architecture, with over 90 percent of companies using multiple cloud services. Connectivity is the glue that connects multiple clouds together. SDN is critical in enabling hybrid cloud, as without it, you just have multiple unconnected clouds that require manual network engineering to connect together, defeating the purpose of self-service infrastructure provisioning. Unitas Global is integrating multiple SDN technologies into its cloud management platform to enable real-time, self-service provisioning of compute, storage and networking across multiple clouds, all from a single portal.
DCP-KX Q: Are you seeing Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning deployed in your business, and how?
UG-GK A: Industry leaders recognize the importance of applying AI to their Big Data sets. While in the very early days of adoption of AI and machine learning, 2018 looks to be a breakout year for companies that figure it out and are poised to gain a competitive advantage in the market.
DCP-KX Q: What broad trends do you see in telecoms in the next 12 months?
UG-GK A: Network services have traditionally been provisioned on an annualized basis, generally one to three-year fixed-term contracts. On the other hand, cloud services are often charged on an hourly or even per-minute basis with no fixed term. As workloads become more dynamic, and fully-orchestrated hybrid cloud applications become more prevalent, network service operators will begin to adapt pricing and billing models to more closely align with those of the cloud service providers they are connecting.
DCP-KX Q: What exciting new developments and initiatives can we anticipate for your company in 2018?
UG-GK A: In 2018, Unitas Global will launch the industry’s first cloud management platform that combines multi-cloud provisioning and orchestration with network connectivity, health and performance monitoring, workload lifecycle management and sophisticated financial controls. Today, these are functions that live in discrete purpose-built tools, and while this works, the “swivel chair” effect of changing between tools to accomplish tasks represents a poor user experience that is inefficient at best. For the first time, the entire enterprise workload lifecycle will be managed with a single, intuitive user interface.
DCP-KX Q: What technologies or solutions are inhibiting growth today, and how do you see innovation adapting to solve that problem?
UG-GK A: As more and more workloads are taking place in the cloud, it is becoming increasingly difficult for service providers to keep up with the market demands for fast, cost-effective, and flexible connectivity. Users want to see continued higher performance of and security for their workloads. With so many options, it can be confusing to enterprise clients to select the best service provider for their needs. To address these issues, Unitas is launching a true, end-to-end connectivity solution enabling the enterprise full insight into their connected cloud environment from on-prem, data center, public cloud, and everywhere in between. It will ensure the highest performance, speed, and security for the enterprise at an optimal cost from anywhere globally.
DCP-KX Q: Why is ITW such an important industry event for you and your company?
UG-GK A: All clouds have to connect to something. ITW is where the business of connecting happens.
DCP-KX: Grant, thank you for your time today and best wishes to you and Unitas Global at ITW.