At MEF16 in Baltimore, Mike Sapien, Ovum Principal Analyst of Large Enterprise Services, led a panel featuring Global Capacity Senior Vice President of Product, Chris Alberding, Deutsche Telekom VP of Aggregation, Transport and IP, Axel Clauberg, and Microsoft IT Network Architect, Gert Vanderstraeten. Panelists explored the growth drivers of emerging WAN services, discussed common challenges associated with their deployment and shared predictions regarding future standardization.
After the panel, I caught up with Chris and he shared some of his top takeaways from the event with me, which are covered here alongside the insights of his esteemed colleagues.
Driven by Enterprise Demand
As the use of business applications dramatically increases, enterprise customers in the U.S. and around the world have been demanding alternative solutions to best-effort internet and expensive MPLS-based VPN service. On this point, panelists were asked to share their thoughts on the rising demand for hybrid network solutions and SD-WAN services.
Speaking from the perspective of the enterprise, Gert Vanderstraeten of Microsoft simply pointed to the user experience and need for flexibility as the drivers of new WAN solutions.
“Most of the demand for SD-WAN is coming from enterprises that seek the ability to design and manage their network from a hybrid approach, integrating MPLS networks with additional lower cost alternatives such as internet broadband and wireless,” stated Chris Alberding.
In addition to the improved cost performance achieved with leveraging a hybrid network, the need for enterprises to set and control application policy across their wide area networks is driving the high number of SD-WAN service pilots and launches.
Rising to the Challenge
Given the dramatic growth in market demand, Ovum has stated that the estimated value of hybrid WAN services within large contracts has gone from 6% in 2011 to over 30% in 2014, and expects this to exceed 60% in 2016. Businesses need to satisfy increasing bandwidth demands while reducing costs, which means networks must also evolve.
According to Chris, the key to surviving in this shifting market is to take a customer-centric approach. “In order to successfully master the challenges of this evolving market and the deployment of SD-WAN services, service providers must evolve to understand the network from the customer perspective,” he stated. “This approach starts with the customer’s location and then layers in options to connect to their destinations while improving the customer experience and lowering costs.”
“Focusing on the customer, now more than ever there are ways to achieve a higher level of visibility into the available connectivity necessary to construct a successful hybrid network,” Chris continued. “Global Capacity’s network-neutral One Marketplace is the optimal solution to building the ideal hybrid network, delivering the flexible network best suited for SD-WAN orchestration technologies.”
The Developing World of Network Connectivity
As a global community, we are moving from products to service. With this comes a heightened focus on experience, agility, and automation. The communications industry is moving toward a major network and operational transformation epitomized by SDN to meet these top goals of automation and service agility. With the unprecedented, rapid adoption of SD-WAN services to the market, the industry is seeing successful commercialization of SDN applications. Still unanswered are some of the SDN standards that will simplify carrier-to-carrier interconnectivity.
As Chris explained, “Standardization is certainly evolving, but universal standards are still lacking, therefore opportunistic definitions are a critical element to adopting any software defined strategy and partnerships.”
Axel Clauberg of Deutsche Telekom shared that the first approaches the industry saw were pragmatic. Alex pointed out that if services are delivered over the top of the internet, customers will expect that if something goes wrong, the provider or the customer will have visibility into where it’s going wrong, and in order achieve that transparency and experience, service providers are going to need standards.
It will take time for the industry to achieve that next phase of adoption. In order to reach that point, we, as part of the new ecosystem of providers, will need to work together to facilitate SDN continued growth and deployment.
The Year Ahead
“It is clear that as we enter 2017, the pilots we are hearing about will become deployments at a high percentage,” Chris Alberding stated. “Global Capacity’s SD-WAN service is built on the success of our award-winning hybrid network solution and One Marketplace service lifecycle applications.”
As SD-WAN services increase in deployment, the demand for hybrid networks grows along with it. As such, the need to manage multiple suppliers with diverse technologies across various cities over a hybrid network is necessary. Surveys of the MEF community are helping to measure industry progress toward more agile, dynamic, assured and orchestrated Network services. Topline research results from the most recent MEF-Vertical Systems Group study, “Emerging Third Network Services Enabled By LSO, SDN, NFV & CE 2.0,” identified that orchestration across multiple provider networks requires industry collaboration and was the top challenge based on 91% of the respondents.
It is not merely about meeting a challenge, but developing a simple and cost effective solution that provides flexibility and visibility into performance. Global Capacity’s One Marketplace™ platform is purpose-built to simplify a network of network architecture and deliver innovative new WAN architectures such as SD-WAN.
To learn more about Global Capacity and its growing portfolio of connectivity services, please visit https://globalcapacity.com/products-services/wide-area-networking.