Nokia and Microsoft bundle their cloud offerings

A strategic collaboration between Nokia and Microsoft is banking on companies wanting to buy their cloud hardware and software together.

Here’s the official pitch: “By bringing together Microsoft cloud solutions and Nokia’s expertise in mission-critical networking, the companies are uniquely positioned to help enterprises and communications service providers transform their businesses.” This seems to be mainly about things like private networks, SD-WAN and private cloud, but specific commercial use-cases are thin on the ground at this stage.

“We are thrilled to unite Nokia’s mission-critical networks with Microsoft’s cloud solutions,” said Kathrin Buvac, President of Nokia Enterprise and Chief Strategy Officer. “Together, we will accelerate the digital transformation journey towards Industry 4.0, driving economic growth and productivity for both enterprises and service providers.”

“Bringing together Microsoft’s expertise in intelligent cloud solutions and Nokia’s strength in building business and mission-critical networks will unlock new connectivity and automation scenarios,” said Jason Zander, EVP of Microsoft Azure. “We’re excited about the opportunities this will create for our joint customers across industries.”

This initiative is more than just good PowerPoint and canned quote, however, with BT announced as its first paying punter. Apparently it’s already offering a managed service that integrates Microsoft Azure cloud and Nokia SD-WAN stuff. Specifically this means Azure vWAN and Nuage SD-WAN 2.0.

Apart from that the joint announcement mainly just bangs on about how great both companies are at this sort of thing – in other words a thinly-veiled sales pitch. The market will decide if it needs this kind of complete virtual WAN package and whether or not Nokia and Microsoft are the best companies to provide it. But there’s no denying BT is a strong first customer win.

Q&A with Rupesh Chokshi – Assistant Vice President, Edge Solutions Product Marketing Management, AT&T Business

Telecoms.com periodically invites third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. Rupesh Chokshi is a leader in technology with a strategic focus for growth in global technology and telecommunications. He currently leads the product marketing team within Edge Solutions for AT&T Business which focuses on product management, strategy and business development, and is transforming services and networks using software-defined networking (SDN), network function virtualization (NFV) and SD-WAN technologies.

To help determine the state of virtualization today, Light Reading spoke with Rupesh Chokshi – Assistance Vice President, Edge Solutions Product Marketing Management at AT&T Business – and one of the industry leading experts presenting at this years’ Network Virtualization & SDN Americas event in September.

Light Reading (LR): How has network virtualization evolved in the last three years?

Rupesh Chokshi (RC): AT&T has been in the business of delivering software-centric services for several years, and we’ve seen adoption from businesses looking to update their infrastructures, increase their agility and transform their businesses. Networks are almost unrecognizable from what they used to be – data traffic on our mobile network grew more than 470,000% since 2007, and video traffic increased over 75% in the last year. Given the new network demands, companies need to adapt by changing the way they manage networks.

We took a unique approach with our infrastructure ability by using software-defined network (SDN) and network function virtualization (NFV) with our own network, meeting our goal of 65% virtualized network by 2018 and setting us up to achieve our goal of 75% virtualization by 2020. At the same time we started using SDN and NFV in our own network, we utilized SDN to deliver AT&T’s first SDN service, AT&T Switched Ethernet Service with Network on Demand (ASEoD). This allowed thousands of customers to provision and manage their network in a fraction of the time it took in the past, and now enables them to scale bandwidth on demand to meet their business’ seasonality.

ASEoD was only the first of a series of solutions we are creating to address shifting network needs. Three years ago, we introduced our first global software-based solution, AT&T FlexWareSM, which uses both SDN and NFV to increase business agility by simplifying the process for dynamically adding and managing network functions.

LR: What technology developments are you most excited about for in the future?

RC: The work we did up to this point to deliver SDN within our network and for our customers set us up for the next generation of wireless technology, 5G. As the first SDN-enabled wireless technology, and the first wireless network born in the cloud, 5G will ultimately enable new use cases that take advantage of network slicing, the ability to support a high number of IoT devices and greater low-latency edge compute capabilities.

In addition, we are collaborating with VMWare SD-WAN by VeloCloud to implement 5G capabilities into our software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN). This will give business new levels of control over their networks and is key for companies looking to use SD-WAN with a high-speed, low-latency 5G network as their primary or secondary WAN connection type.

LR: How can businesses move forward with virtualization today?

RC: Today, businesses need to make sense of data faster and more efficiently than ever before, which is driving businesses to evaluate how they use their network for all applications, and to find ways to maximize their resources. One-way companies can do this and move forward with virtualization is through AT&T’s comprehensive SD-WAN portfolio. AT&T’s SD-WAN technology supports this new way of working by letting companies define policies based on individual business needs using centralized software-based control.

LR: How can businesses determine the business benefits and ROI of virtualization today?

RC: Businesses can determine the business benefits of virtualization through cost savings, application-level visibility and near real-time analytics.

Potential cost savings is one of the key benefits of SD-WAN that is touted by technology suppliers and service providers alike. In our experience, it is during the process of fleshing out the technical details of the solution and how to best integrate it into their network that enterprises begin to fully appreciate where those cost benefits may come from, as well as understanding other benefits or features that may also be important to them. Keep in mind the importance of considering potential cost savings in the context of total cost of ownership, not just looking at the relative cost of the CPE vs. the cost of the network access.

Additionally, SD-WAN technology can provide more application-level visibility and control on a per site basis, and these capabilities go far to help customers assess and experience the benefits of the performance of their network access and transport.

SD-WAN also enables customers to access analytics in near real time or on a historical basis for bandwidth consumption and application visibility. This is instrumental in setting KPIs and measuring ROI and planning for future network growth.

LR: What virtualization strategies should businesses be focusing on?

RC: Businesses need to adopt efficient, high-performing networks to take advantage of the newest technology and bandwidth needs. Automation is a great example of this. As businesses require more bandwidth, we need to provide more elegant solutions in order for them to take full advantage of more ubiquitous, high-speed broadband.

Additionally, while digital transformation is top of mind for businesses of all sizes and in every industry, dynamic SD-WAN is still in a relatively early stage of growth and adoption. And for others, MPLS and IPsec remain important options. Hybrid WAN designs will continue to be popular as customers utilize multiple technologies (MPLS, IPSec, SD-WAN) for optimal results.

LR: How can businesses build these technologies into their long-term business models?

RC: We live in a digital economy, and AT&T provides fundamental platforms for businesses to grow, differentiate and innovate. We work with businesses of all sizes to help transform their long-term business models through technology solutions delivered in the form of a managed service. Customers come to us because of our expertise, breadth and depth of capabilities, global scale and innovation in areas such as software defined networking, network function virtualization, mobility, IoT and SD-WAN.

As businesses grow, they need to think about their overall networking health. And how they can use their networks to meet all their business objectives. Key considerations in bringing that to life include:

  • Holistic solutions that can combine SD-WAN functionality with network services from AT&T or other providers, virtualized CPE, wired and wireless LAN, security, voice over IP and much more;
  • Reduced operational expense and less need for in-house expertise with a managed solution that handles all aspects of the end-to-end solution design and setup;
  • Global deployment options that remove the headaches of onsite installation and support in countries around the world; and
  • Flexible SD-WAN policy management where the customer can choose to set and update application level policies themselves or rely on AT&T experts to manage this for them.

Want to deep dive into real-world issues and virtualization deployment challenges with Rupesh and other industry leaders?

 

Join Light Reading at the annual Network Virtualization& SDN Americas event in Dallas, September 17-19. Register now for this exclusive opportunity to learn from and network with industry experts. Communications service providers get in free!

The reality of mobile SD-WAN – what 4G LTE made possible

Telecoms.com periodically invites third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. This is the first of a two piece series in which Simon Pamplin, EMEA Technical Sales Director for Silver Peak, looks at some of the enterprise benefits of the latest generations of wireless networking technology.

5G, also known as the fifth generation of mobile wireless technology, is one of the hottest topics in wireless circles today. Indeed, you can’t throw a stone without hitting a plethora of titles, potential use cases and detailed explanations about 5G. While telecommunications providers are in a heated competition to roll out 5G, it is important to reflect on current 4G LTE (long term evolution) business solutions as a preview of what has been learned and what’s possible.

At the same time, the enterprise has experienced its own networking revolution. As cloud computing has become the norm, and more applications and services have migrated for enterprise convenience and flexibility, IT departments have realised that traditional wide area network (WAN) architectures – utilising multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) circuits and conventional routers – cannot keep up. As such, to achieve the highest levels of application performance and security, many organisations have turned to software-defined WAN (SD-WAN), the networking technology that connects users directly and securely to applications using any underlying transport, including 4G and broadband internet.

SD-WAN enables enterprises to shift to a business-first networking model, where the network enables the business, rather than the business conforming to the constraints of existing WAN approaches. Instead of being a constraint, the WAN becomes a business accelerant that is fully automated and continuous, giving every application the resources it truly needs, while delivering 10 times the bandwidth for the same budget – ultimately achieving the highest quality of experience to users and IT alike.

This is part one of a two-part article series that will explore the effect of 4G and 5G on enterprise networking, as well as the SD-WAN journey through the evolution of these wireless technologies.

Mobile SD-WAN is a reality

4G LTE commercialisation is continuing to expand. According to the GSM (Groupe Spéciale Mobile) Association, 710 operators have rolled out 4G LTE in 217 countries, reaching 83 percent of the world’s population. The evolution of 4G is transforming the mobile industry and is setting the stage for the advent of 5G.

Mobile connectivity is increasingly integrated with SD-WAN, along with MPLS and broadband WAN services today. The reason being is that 4G LTE represents a very attractive transport alternative, as a backup or even an active member of the WAN transport mix to connect users to critical business applications. In some cases, 4G LTE might be the only choice in locations where fixed lines are not available or reachable. Furthermore, an SD-WAN can optimise 4G LTE connectivity, and bring new levels of performance and availability to mobile-based business use cases by bonding multiple 4G LTE connections to deliver the highest levels of network and application performance.

Increasing application performance and availability with 4G LTE

Best in class SD-WAN solutions enable customers to incorporate one or more low-cost 4G LTE services into the WAN transport mix. Indeed, all the capabilities of the SD-WAN platform – including packet-based link bonding, dynamic path control, and path conditioning – can be supported across multiple LTE links. This ensures always-consistent, always-available application performance even in the event of an outage or degraded service.

With an advanced business-driven SD-WAN edge platform, IT can also incorporate sophisticated network address translator (NAT) traversal technology to eliminate the requirement for provisioning the LTE service with extra-cost static IP addresses. Holistic solutions offer management software that enables the prioritisation of LTE bandwidth usage based on branch and application requirements – active-active or backup-only. This kind of solution is ideally suited toward retail point-of-sale and other deployment use cases where always-available WAN connectivity is critical for the business.

Mobile SD-WAN: innovative connectivity solutions to real world problems

An example of an innovative mobile SD-WAN service is swyMed’s DOT Telemedicine Backpack, powered by an SD-WAN hardware platform. This integrated telemedicine solution enables emergency services first responders to connect to doctors and communicate patient vital statistics using real-time video anywhere, anytime, thereby greatly improving and expediting care for emergency patients. Using a lifesaving backpack provisioned with two LTE services from different carriers, the SD-WAN can continuously monitor the underlying 4G LTE services for packet loss, latency and jitter. In the case of transport failure or brownout, the SD-WAN automatically initiates a sub-second failover so that voice, video and data connections continue without interruption over the remaining active 4G service. By bonding the two LTE links together with the SD-WAN, swyMed can achieve an aggregate signal quality in excess of 90 percent, bringing mobile telemedicine to areas that would have been impossible in the past due to poor signal strength.

Prepare for the 5G future

The adoption of 4G LTE is already a reality. As well as evangelising SD-WAN to end-users, service providers have a vital and value-added role in the design, installation, deployment, repair, and ongoing monitoring of managed SD-WAN services. Indeed, service providers are already taking advantage of the distinct benefits of SD-WAN to offer managed SD-WAN services that leverage flexible and mobile 4G LTE to their customers.

As the race for the 5G gains momentum in the UK – with it expected to be available in multiple cities this year – service providers will no doubt look for ways to drive new revenue streams to capitalise on their initial investments. The next article of this two-part series will discuss the rise of 5G, and how SD-WAN will help service providers to transition from 4G to 5G, as well as enable the monetisation of a new wave of managed 5G services.

 

100508_Simon Pamplin_v1Simon Pamplin is the EMEA Technical Sales Director for Silver Peak and a regular speaker at events on topics ranging from the latest storage technologies and server virtualisation to the current shift in data networking towards SD-WAN, as well as the latest developments in the technology. With over 20 years’ experience in enterprise IT, Simon has worked for IP, SAN and hyper-convergent companies and is driven by new technology and the business benefits it can bring.

Italians clearly aren’t that suspicious of Huawei

Despite governments around the world turning against Chinese vendors, Telecom Italia has agreed a new partnership with Huawei based on Software Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) technology.

As part of a strategy aimed at evolving TIM’s network solutions for business customers, Huawei’s SD-WAN technology will be incorporated to create a new TIM service model which will allow customers companies to manage their networks through a single console.

“Today, more than ever, companies need networks that can adapt to different business needs over time, in particular to enable Cloud and VoIP services,” said Luigi Zabatta, Head of Fixed Offer for TIM Chief Business & Top Clients Office. “Thanks to the most advanced technologies available, these networks can be managed both jointly and by customers themselves through simple tools.

“The partnership with Huawei allows us to expand our value proposition for companies and to enrich our offer through the adoption of a technological model that is increasingly and rapidly emerging in the ICT industry.”

The partnership is a major win for Huawei considering the pressure the firm must be feeling over suspicions being peaked around the world. Just as more countries are clamping down on the ability for Huawei to do business, TIM has offered a windfall.

Aside from the on-going Chinese witch hunt over in the US, the Australians have banned Huawei from participating in the 5G bonanza and Korean telcos have left the vendor off preferred supplier lists. Just to add more misery, the UK is seemingly joining in on the trends.

In recent weeks, a letter was sent out from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and the National Cyber Security Centre, warning telcos of potential impacts to the 5G supply chain from the Future Telecom Infrastructure Review. China was not mentioned specifically, and neither was Huawei, but sceptical individuals might suggest China would be most squeezed by a security and resilience review.

The rest of the world might be tip-toeing around the big question of China, but this partnership suggests TIM doesn’t have the same reservations.

BT decides to resell some Cisco SD-WAN gear

UK telco group BT has launched a new global managed service based around Cisco software defined wide area network (SD-WAN) kit.

BT has a fairly established history of partnering with Cisco, so this is more of an extension of the existing relationship than something completely new. To date it has all been about the NFV and SDN so this latest initiative is pretty consistent with that.

Most of the announcement reads like a piece of Cisco marketing, detailing what a great idea ‘BT Connect Cisco SD-WAN’ is if you want to keep an eye on the data flows across your WAN. This is especially handy in the transition to the cloud, which seems to be a big reason why BT wants to add it to its managed services portfolio.

“Over 90 per cent of BT’s global WAN customers use Cisco technology and the vast majority ask us to manage it,” said Keith Langridge, VP of Network Services at BT. “Today’s announcement gives them a choice of physical or virtualised Cisco SD-WAN portfolio delivered as managed services backed by our excellent security credentials.

“We have a wealth of know-how and experience in designing hybrid networks and a global infrastructure engineered for SD-WAN and NFV service delivery. Organisations looking at taking their first step to SD-WAN can be reassured that in BT, they have an established, trusted Cisco partner able to give professional services advice to plan, build and evolve secure and reliable hybrid networks globally.”

“BT is offering the complete portfolio of Cisco SD-WAN-based solutions as managed services and doing so on a truly global scale,” said Scott Harrell, GM of the Enterprise Networking Business at Cisco. “Cisco SD-WAN, built on Viptela technology, is a great example of how intent-based networking is fundamentally changing the blueprint for networking.”

The extra bit of added value BT is claiming concerns its orchestration capabilities, indicating the whole package is aimed at companies generally looking to sort their virtualized lives out. The managed services part promises to hold their hands throughout their network evolution and the tone of the announcement suggests there are more BT/Cisco announcements to come.

Virgin Media brings in Versa to bolster its SD-WAN

Virgin Media Business has announced a partnership with Versa Networks which will allow it to offer its enterprise customers a variety of software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) services.

As part of the partnership, Virgin Media Business will use Versa Network’s Cloud IP platform to provide fully managed SD-WAN services. We should come expect more partnerships along these lines as automation and intelligent services is at the heart, answering the industry’s call for more IT solutions which can aid flat-lining productivity numbers.

“Versa Networks is a true market disruptor and therefore the perfect strategic fit for Virgin Media Business,” said Peter Kelly, Managing Director of Virgin Media Business.

“Our partnership will put the cloud at the heart of our enterprise network and allow us to offer our customers an industry-leading service that gives them greater agility, flexibility and control over how they design and manage their corporate network to unlock their digital potential. SD-WAN is turning corporate IT on its head; enabling the IT to respond to the business needs rather than the business responding to what the IT can deliver.”

SD-WAN is proving to be a popular service for customers around the world as it is proving to be a more open and flexible solution than traditional WAN. The network is instead controlled using cloud-native software, designed to integrate with the cloud and improve automation, security and enhanced connectivity.

“We are excited about partnering with Virgin Media Business to offer business essential SD-WAN services that enables them to provide excellent application user experience, agility, security and simplification to their customers’ networks,” said Kumar Mehta, CDO of Versa Networks.

“This collaboration is a testament to our ability to provide innovative solutions as organizations evolve on their digital transformation journey.”

While Virgin Media is shouting about this agreement, our sister site Light Reading has confirmed it is part of a wider group-level strategy at Liberty Global, which in turn is trying to ramp up its appeal to large enterprise and government customers.