While imitation is said to be the sincerest form of flattery, it may not be the best route to innovation. With that in mind, the large field of SD-WAN vendors could be culled.
Thanks to improved network performance and better cost efficiencies, SD-WAN has been one of the hottest techologies over the past few years, which has led to a proliferation of SD-WAN vendors, along with more service providers launching SD-WAN offerings.
In the first installment of his Q&A with Telco Transformation, John Isch, director of network and voice practice, North America, Orange Business Services , spoke about the cost savings that SD-WAN can offer under different scenarios, among other topics. Under the Hood: Orange's Isch Discusses SD-WAN.) In Part II, he discusses consolidation among SD-WAN vendors, multi-tenancy, and how it will evolve going forward.
Telco Transformation: Do you foresee consolidation among all of the SD-WAN vendors?
John Isch: I think this is inevitable. There are very few SD-WAN vendors that are publicly traded and many are VC-funded. As the market matures and dominant players evolve, there will be consolidation. Many of the SD-WAN vendors today are very small companies that will either become attractive for one of the larger players to acquire or they will simply not be able to scale. For enterprises that have locations across the globe, they will need a supplier or service provider that can provide global support, distribution and management. That's a big task to take on for some of the smaller players.
TT: What is the value proposition for SD-WAN and the cloud? There needs to be more done for security?
JI: Certainly, enterprises need to be concerned about security with regard to cloud access. Over time we are seeing customers wanting to add security to cloud connections, even on private connectivity to cloud service providers, such as our Galerie services. SD-WAN solutions can be part of the overall solution, but typically they are not providing added security. This is a critical point that needs to be considered as part of the overall network design. There is no "one-size-fits-all" mentality -- particularly with security. Every enterprise has its own security requirements that drive network design to a large degree.
TT: Does there need to be end-to-end control for SD-WAN services, and if so, would that be solved by SDN orchestration?
JI: Orange believes this is one of the key tenets of a hybrid network: end-to-end control. SD-WAN services are a part of the overall network solution. The Internet is not really a single network, but rather it's a collection of networks with no central control. When something goes wrong in the Internet, who is responsible for fixing it?
Obviously the Internet is part of an overall solution, but the decision needs to be made with eyes wide open. I have seen a case where peering changed within an ISP's network and latency increased tenfold, essentially isolating users from the ERP system, which had a significant impact on the enterprise. There is nothing an SD-WAN service can do to repair or help troubleshoot that problem.
Orange offers a managed local ISP service, taking responsibility for the operation of the service, end-to-end. When coupled with global SDN Orchestration, it gives Orange total ownership of the solution for its customers. This responsibility is something our customers demand and expect, and it is particularly difficult in an SD-WAN environment.
TT: Is multi-tenancy a good thing for carriers when it comes to their SD-WAN offerings, or does it mean they have to partner with more vendors?
JI: Multi-tenancy is a requirement for virtually any managed service provided by carriers. It's just not cost-effective to deploy individual platforms for each solution being delivered. Orange's SDN solution moves us into the realm of network-as-a-aervice: one central orchestration platform that controls all the services being provided in the network, whether that is security, multi-path application control, application visibility, etc. It really is a new way to deploy services. It's not only extremely agile, but it also allows us to provide services via industry-leading VNFs, and even multiple VNFs that provide similar functionality for maximum flexibility.
TT: What about SLAs and quality of service for SD-WAN?
JI: This goes back to the end-to-end control question. If the carrier doesn't own the end-to-end solution, then meaningful SLAs are not possible. While the Internet is essentially a "best-effort network," many corporate applications that are now provided via public cloud just can't be treated as best effort.
TT: How else will SD-WAN evolve?
JI: The network is rapidly evolving into a software-defined environment. The multi-path function simply becomes one of the many functions available through a central orchestration platform. It's obvious that every function will be supplied via software instead of hardware. But the question becomes how many orchestration/management platforms does a company want to manage?
Having one platform makes a lot of sense, not only for simplicity, but also to enable service chaining. With multiple orchestration platforms, service chaining becomes a manual process, which is exactly what we are moving away from. If you consider the relative maturity of the SD-WAN market and the players, it's obvious that through consolidation we will see feature integration as well as consolidation. It's going to be really interesting to see how the traditional networking companies embrace this technology. We're already seeing some of those companies coming to the table with full-featured VNFs that not only work technically, but have financial models that support an "on-demand" delivery methodology.
At Orange we are embracing this move to SDN/NFV and look to leverage the advantages of network-as-a-service to deliver solutions that are agile, "performant," secure and controllable. It really is a new age in networks.
— Mike Robuck, Editor, Telco Transformation