This morning, Level 3 announced that it is directly entering the software-defined wide-area network (SD-WAN) fray with the launch of Level 3 SD-WAN.
The new premises-based SD-WAN offering represents the network company's first pure-play SD-WAN product, complementing its pre-existing Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) and hybrid WAN solutions. In a press release issued today, Level 3 outlined a variety of features for its SD-WAN offering, including (but not limited to):
- Centralized policy management,
- Rapid site deployment through zero-touch configuration,
- Performance-based routing and traffic steering by application,
- A single point of contact for broadband aggregation and billing, and
- A self-service portal and dashboard offering 24-7 application monitoring and analytics.
The company went on to report that its SD-WAN product, which is available today, includes security and privacy features that will enable site-to-site encryption regardless of access method, backbone connection, or the composition of public and/or private infrastructural components implicated. As such, the product is anticipated to make for an important fit among Level 3's offerings for enterprise customers.
"By its very nature, enterprise digital transformation and the use of hybrid networking and IT are extremely dynamic. Enterprises need to be able to test quickly and fail quickly so that they can understand where to apply their resources for the best possible business outcome," Anthony Christie, Level 3's CMO, told Telco Transformation while discussing the importance of SD-WAN. "At the core of the Level 3 hybrid networking strategy is the adaptive nature with which we've developed in our SD-WAN product. This can be seen most clearly with Adaptive Network Control Solutions, which allow customers to scale up and down as needed; Adaptive Network Security solutions, which are next-generation firewalls that are cloud-based; and the Voice Complete platform, which allows the enterprise customers higher level of efficiencies with converged services.
"We've also not lost sight of the fact that many enterprise customers require professional and managed services to implement so they can focus on their core business. We bring that in our toolkit as well."
Level 3 Communications Inc. (NYSE: LVLT) views its new SD-WAN service as a market game-changer.
"We do expect that the SD-WAN announcement that we made will change the way that the market views us," Andrew Dugan, Level 3's CTO, told Telco Transformation in a separate interview. "We have had a hybrid WAN solution available to our customers in the market, and that has met our needs until now. But many of our customers are looking for that true SD-WAN capability, and we think that the offer that we're making here in the market is going to make a difference in Level 3's perception in how we're viewed. And that, we think, will help us be better positioned for these RFPs that we're seeing from customers where the SD-WAN solution is a key part of their decision making."
Dugan said a recent report (registration is required) provided Level 3 with insight on how to proceed in the SD-WAN space. (See SD-WAN: Welcome to the Boomtown.)
"There are around 3,000 paying SD-WAN customers," Dugan said, citing the Gartner report. "That's a material number and just the beginning of what we think to be a bigger trend. There are hundreds of thousands of branch offices on these SD-WAN technologies."
Other studies, too, including IDC's May 2016 Worldwide SD-WAN Survey Special Report and Level 3's own internal research, have influenced the global communications firm's SD-WAN product strategy, according to Dugan.
"When we take a look at what customers are coming to us and asking for, and when we look at what the research shows around what enterprises are expecting to do, you'll hear numbers from people like IDC that say that 62% of enterprises are planning to adopt SD-WAN within 18 months," said Dugan. "So I think, based on what we're hearing directly from our customers, as well as what we're hearing from industry research, we certainly see SD-WAN, SDN and NFV as key parts of future networking needs, and we're making sure that we're positioned with the right offers to meet those needs."
Level 3 declined to say which vendor or vendors it was using for its new premises-based SD-WAN service.
— Joe Stanganelli, Contributing Writer, Telco Transformation