Security. Operations. Accessibility. Innovation. Network management. All of these things become easier and better enabled with SD-WAN, says Shawn Hakl, vice president of business networks and security solutions at Verizon.
In this Telco Transformation Q&A, Hakl -- a self-confessed SD-WAN enthusiast -- talks about Verizon's SDN strategy in terms of SD-WAN, organizational shifts and open standards.
Telco Transformation: What inherent advantages -- or disadvantages, for that matter -- do you see with SD-WAN, virtualization and your SDN strategy?
Shawn Hakl: So I'll be straightforward. I'm an SD-WAN zealot. So my ability to see disadvantages is colored by the fact that I think this stuff is super important. From an SD-WAN perspective, being able for an enterprise to express its application policy in software lets you organize all the function that comes around that around the application experience. If you think about my primary purchaser, the CIO, making sure an application is delivered reliably and securely is fundamental to their job. So the ability to get that application policy in software and then build our services around ensuring that it's met is from our perspective super important. And so from that perspective, that's one big important capability. And then there's an operational ease of execution with the SD-WAN stuff that lets you be way more sophisticated with the way you follow policy across your organization, which has the added effect of making the other things you do with it more effective. You can do virtualized security without SD-WAN, but man, it makes it a lot easier and a lot more exciting when you put SD-WAN coupled with that. So from that perspective I see a lot of upside.
The one thing that people need to be aware of is, technologies, as a general rule, tend to be pretty siloed. In other words, the security guy at his firewall, and the network guy at his router and IT guy at his server, and the business operations have their contact-center box, and if you try to touch anyone's box they flip. There's this concept of ownership that's really counterproductive when you look at this stuff from an operational savings perspective. Software-based solutions that run on common infrastructure aren't cheaper unless you do it across multiple functions, and you lose a lot of the innovation if you don't do that. This stuff introduces not just a technology change but also a cultural organizational shift that has to accompany it for it to really reach its potential. I've spent a long time talking about that because it's going to be disruptive -- not just from a technology perspective but from an organizational perspective. That has to happen for this for this stuff to really take off, and I think it will. I think the benefits are compelling enough for it to happen. I just hope it happens quickly because then we can move on to the next stage, which is more interesting innovation, once we do that.
TT: You said that your primary purchaser is the CIO. Compared with this siloed vision that you just presented of "don't touch my box," are there any use cases that you can foresee where the primary purchaser is perhaps not the CIO when it comes to SD-WAN? Is there a way to solve that don't-touch-my-box problem if you look at different stakeholders within the organization?
SH: With SD-WAN, there's enough benefit in terms of deployment, operations and location, so that the network engineer can see a clear path to buying a solution and implementing it, and they'll get good value out of it... You don't have to be revolutionary in getting the benefit. You just have to get all the benefit you could. So there is a path there. I just think the benefits over time, once people start grasping technology, until you implement it with other stuff, it's not as valuable. Until you start seeing more integration happen, I don't think you'll see that change.
From an SD-WAN perspective, there is lots of opportunity. Look at some of the challenges with the virtualization in the data center. Virtualization in the data center from the networking perspective didn't go as far as it could have with storage and compute. As people start to look to solve that problem, they're going to start to talk more to their network peers, and then you're going to see that linkage happen. When that happens, you're going to see another kickstart forward.
So I can see a couple ways this evolves out. You'll see some forward-leading CIOs, you'll see some data centers, you'll see some network engineers that get really fired up about this technology and pushing it across the organization; that's one path.
The other is people trying to solve problems today that make sense to cross boundaries where there is going to be a natural linkage in there. I would also argue that the need for this sort of network isolation and network segmentation -- and when I say that, it's really greater than the network; it's resource segmentation across the enterprise -- will eventually drive the CIO and the CISO to have this conversation with the network team. So there are two paths. There are going to be the early adopters that get it and kind of go forward based on an intellectual vision, and then there are a couple of trends both in data center and in security that will, for lack of a better term, back into these solutions because they are the right way to solve it that I also see coming forward.
TT: What open standards is Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) involved with now in this area? And which might you get involved with in the future?
SH: There's a number of open standards efforts going on around systems management -- ONAP being one of them -- so we pay attention to what's going on there so we understand how our solutions are or are not compatible with those efforts. We've also been a part of the OpenDaylight initiatives.
People from my team specifically participate in organizations like the MEF. For example, right now, a member of my team is putting together the standards for elastic services between carriers so that we can basically create a better end-user experience. My focus there is making sure that services can communicate between carriers in such a way that the end user or consumer of those, who often skate across multiple carriers, has a positive end experience. So what I think is that you'll see Verizon participating pretty aggressively in particular standards bodies focused [on] the creation of services across NFV, and then also paying attention to and/or contributing to some of the infrastructure -- or more infrastructure-oriented open-standards efforts -- that are out there now.
From our perspective, we want to work with the standards community to focus on the 80% that needs to get done such that these things become usable and scalable quickly. That isn't saying I'm going to sit in the background waiting until that happens. Our intention is to participate in the right forums to help share our experience and help drive that forward.
— Joe Stanganelli, Contributing Writer, Telco Transformation