The Next Step in Telecom Digital Transformation

Author: Derek Kerton, Managing Partner at Kerton Group and Chairman of Telecom Council

sd-wan-zeusNow that NFV/SDN has moved from Next Big Thing (NBT) to implementation, innovators have refocused on the next NBT. And the trend seems to be continuing with more transformation of former hardware functions into software. The next “Software-Defined” target of the Digital Transformation is the WAN, the Wide Area Network. But this time, SD-WAN is less about the operating the core of the network, and more about how enterprises buy network services. SD-WAN proposes a better solution for medium and large enterprises purchasing connectivity, allowing them to mix-and-match different flavors of connections:

  • MPLS
  • Wireless redundancy
  • Leased Lines
  • Fiber, cable, etc.

Using SD-WAN, the above physical connections can be purchased separately and freely aggregated in software for

  • redundancy,
  • higher capacity,
  • lower-cost,
  • better performance,
  • and better reliability.

SD-WANs create an abstraction layer between disparate connectivity solutions and the layers above it in the OSI stack. While a flexible and dynamic aggregation of actual Physical and Media layers may swirl below, the output of the SD-WAN appears to be a stable OSI Layer 3 network. And the disparate connections can be different technologies from one network operator, or connections from multiple network operators.

Using SD-WAN, Enterprise IT managers get a very agile and flexible connection-layer on which they can easily build their VPNs. The agility of SD-WAN means that they can offer the corporate VPN to large branches, but even fully to small branches or connected with a mix of consumer-grade ISP service. Also, the agility can be leveraged to scale up or down the bandwidth as needs change.

The agility of SD-WAN fits perfectly with the agility of NFV/SDN, and both share a common incubator in the enterprise, cloud, and datacenter sectors. SD-WAN will likely be a disruptor to the staid business of MPLS and VPNs, and network operators are considering the ramifications. While this layer dis-intermediates the dominant and exclusive role of incumbent telecom operators, it also enables them to sell a competitive, modern, and valuable service to enterprise customers.

To learn more, register for our SD-WAN meeting on June 1st in San Francisco, hosted by Orange Silicon Valley.

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