Only a few short months into 2017, SD-WAN business is booming and shows no signs of slowing down. In just the past two weeks, Orange Business Services, Telstra and Vodafone have all announced SD-WAN partnerships and provided insights on their plans to move forward with SD-WAN deployments. (See MetTel: Market Skips PoCs to Hurry SD-WANs.)
Telstra Corp. Ltd. (ASX: TLS; NZK: TLS) announced last week that it was adding VeloCloud's technology to its suite of SD-WAN offerings, and will begin offering the technology to enterprise customers in China with plans to expand to other markets, including Australia. In addition, Telstra Ventures also invested in VeloCloud's most recent Series D round of funding. In an email exchange with Light Reading, Mark Sherman, managing director of Telstra Ventures, said that SD-WAN has started transforming enterprise WAN by providing customers with more flexible network management and opportunities to lower costs. (See VeloCloud Scores Telstra SD-WAN Win & Investment.)
"With Gartner predicting SD-WAN will grow from 1% market share today to 30% in three years, it makes sense that carriers like Telstra are partnering with SD-WAN companies to capture the opportunities for our customer base," said Sherman in the email to Light Reading.
Telco Transformation spoke with Jim Fagan, director of Global Platforms at Telstra, this week to further discuss Telstra's growing SD-WAN strategy, plans for future SD-WAN offerings and Telstra's approach to cloud platforms and services.
Telco Transformation: What is Telstra's overall SD-WAN strategy?
Jim Fagan: We've been evaluating SD-WAN for quite a bit of time and watching the evolution and speaking to our customers and it's clearly something that we're looking to introduce. For our international customers, we introduced Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) IWAN probably about a year ago at this time so we have had SD-WAN offered internationally.
On the domestic side, we've been evaluating different vendors and options. Going forward also what we've been doing in parallel is the work around our programmable network so our SDN/NFV capability which we've combined in two initiatives -- the initiative that we had internationally, the PEN initiative and the Symphony initiative that we had in Australia.
So really what we're looking to do is, one of our goals, to deliver SD-WAN from the core. So we're going to be looking at how we actually virtualize these capabilities and then push them out to our customers versus so much of the traditional deployment. We'll be looking to actually have that deployed later in the first half of calendar year 2018. That'll be a domestic and international offering.
As important as SD-WAN's becoming, and as talked about as it is, we see it as only one piece of our overall strategy as we move into software-defined and enabled networks and using network functions virtualization. We see it as one of those absolutely key capabilities but I don't think that's the journey -- just getting to an SD-WAN environment. We look at it overall as more of a tool in the tool kit to help our customers architect different solutions and how we architect them. I do think there's been a thought in the market where people think if I do SD-WAN, I've done everything SDN and I'm kind of done but that's definitely not how we view SD-WAN. We view it as definitely an important component of our strategy going forward but it is just a component.
TT: Will Telstra work with other SD-WAN vendors?
JF: Back to VeloCloud, what makes it interesting is, we will look to be multi-vendor and VeloCloud Networks Inc. will clearly be one of those, but we'll also be looking to find other best of breed, SD-WAN capability providers and be offering them up through our network function virtualization marketplaces and offerings.
As I mentioned we have Cisco's iWAN internationally, we are looking to VeloCloud, but absolutely, we are looking to offer multiple options to our customers as we go forward.
TT: Will Telstra offer more than one type of SD-WAN service to businesses with different capabilities?
JF: We're absolutely looking to do that, I think one of the values of it is the flexibility for the customers, so the different features and functionality. So whether it's cloud-based SD-WAN or if you're looking at putting it at the edge through virtual CPE, we're absolutely looking at different types of service. Again, just to suit different business needs. It has certain capabilities and functions, each one does, depending on what you're trying to serve whether it's a data center, whether it's a head office or a branch office or a sales location. We'll absolutely be looking to offer different services to different businesses.
TT: Will SD-WAN impact Telstra’s MPLS business?
JF: It definitely has potential to be a disruptive technology from that perspective, but we look at the value of when we combine it with the other offerings we're looking to do with our programmable network and the capabilities we're looking to offer through SDN. If you actually couple that in with the SD-WAN capabilities, we think it will hopefully give us potential to add more value to our customers.
So will it be disruptive in changing the types of services we sell and perhaps the commercial model? Absolutely, but from a revenue impact, that's something that we're looking to make sure we mitigate as we go forward.
TT: How are SDN/NFV/virtualization being enabled by the cloud?
JF: The cloud has given us the capability to extend reach as far as where we host those NFV farms, for instance, from that perspective, being able to utilize these different clouds, different areas around the world, being able to get stuff closer to a customer end point and to improve performance and latency. That's an important aspect of it.
Virtualization clearly started from and with the cloud, if you think about it from that perspective. Taking those principles and applying them to the network is going to really change things. Again, that comes down to commercial constructs, dynamic elasticity and some of the offerings our customers are looking for with so much of their business now being run out of the cloud. They're looking for the network to behave in a similar manner and really SDN and NFV are the two technologies that actually create the ability for us to offer that capability back to customers.
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How does virtualization shape the evolution of cloud?
JF: It's obviously the biggest driver of it, it's that continual shift from hardware to software and how do we maximize the potential of what that hardware is capable of? How do you actually dynamically move workloads? How are you able to build new products and services in a cheaper and faster way, not just for us but for any business? It's really the core of that speed of continual development.
TT: Is Telstra doing anything with cloud-native?
JF: We've embraced for our cloud strategy both internally and externally a multi-cloud strategy, so we've clearly embraced the public cloud both internally and externally. From that perspective, we have a cloud-first policy in our own internal IT and when we look to build new products and services, we're absolutely using the cloud. If you look at a lot of our programmable network that we utilize as far as the infrastructure, a lot of the key public clouds as well as our own private clouds.
Really where we see the value that Telstra brings to our customers is that connectivity aspect and we actually can tie different cloud offerings together in a secure manner and again, make them behave like a cloud -- the idea to make them dynamic and versatile. From that perspective, that's how we've embraced cloud. As we're looking to better enable customer's use of the cloud and then how do we build out better products and services, taking advantage of cloud scale, the speed to develop and the capability to deploy globally, so that's how we're looking at it from a cloud-native perspective.
— Kelsey Kusterer Ziser, Editor, Upskill U