Evolving networks

ACN reaches out to Orange Business Services and Riverbed Technology for insights on software defined networking and its benefits to enteprises in the MIddle East

Tags: Internet of ThingsOrange Business ServicesRiverbed Technology IncorporatedUnited Arab Emirates
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Evolving networks Dib: "While companies have moved data centres, applications, and storage to the cloud to meet the demands of the digital enterprise, their approach to networking and network management hasn’t evolved as quickly."
By  Alexander Sophoclis Pieri Published  February 13, 2017

Orange Business Services

Spyros Salpeas and Alexandre Gibouin highlight Orange Business Services’ advances within SDN domain

ACN: Could you start by briefly outlining Orange Business Service’ offerings and expertise around software defined networking?

Spyros Salpeas: Today, businesses are looking for smarter and more flexible networks to support their digital transformation initiatives, driven by the trend for cloud, mobile, big data and the internet of things (IoT).

The network needs to evolve to a Network as a Service (NaaS) mode to answer these needs with efficiency, flexibility and security.

The first step in our NaaS strategy was the launch of Easy Go Network, which provides fully-virtualised network functions (VNF) using SDN technology. The service is available to customers in 75 countries, as at the end of 2016.

Easy Go Network allows enterprises to instantly provision virtual network functions (VNF) for branch offices with full digital self-service ordering, customer care and reporting functions via a user-friendly portal. Network functions will now be available in minutes at any site.

Typical customers for Easy Go Network include multinational retailers that need to quickly and affordably open new sites, such as concessions or pop-up stores, and add additional sites or optional virtualised services in less than five minutes.  Enterprises have full visibility over network usage and one-click security policy enforcement for all sites.

ACN: What are the chief benefits of SDN? What impact does it have for enterprises?

Alexandre Gibouin: Software defined networking (SDN), combined with network function virtualisation (NFV), promises to bring an unprecedented level of digital control to global IT networks. Business benefits include:

Increase business agility - The flexibility of SDN makes it far easier and faster to roll out new innovative services, such as real-time HD video conferencing and cloud applications, while still delivering a consistently high quality end user experience. Lead times of months to deliver fixed function equipment are reduced to minutes.

Improve network visibility, performance and management control - SDN brings the benefits of network-wide visibility, analytics and control through a simple dashboard. A centralised controller determines the best route for each application traffic flow. It assesses real-time congestion levels, link health, and priority of workload to the business and the quality of service required.

Enhance security - Security is one of the key attractions of SDN for 45% of enterprises surveyed by the publishers of eWeek. The centralised SDN controller in the core network has visibility over end-to-end traffic flows and emerging threats. It can push global security policies updates out centrally to every site, while a virtualised switch can filter packets at the network edge and redirect suspicious traffic to higher layer security controls.

Eliminate vendor lock-in - Open platforms are key in eliminating vendor lock-in and driving growth in SDN. According to Transparency Market Research the SDN market is set to grow to $3.52 bn by 2018. The OpenDaylight platform, which is leading the transformation to open SDN, now accounts for 95% of the entire SDN market.
Reduce costs - SDN pools multiple compute, storage and processing functions onto low cost commodity servers to reduce capital expenditure. At the same time, virtualisation enables a lot of manual tasks to be automated, reducing operating costs. According to Gartner, enterprises can see a 90% reduction in time for provisioning network services.

ACN: What would you highlight as being the challenges of SDN and how are you tackling these issues?

AG: One of the key challenges of SDN in an international environment is the automation of the last mile provisioning which drives more digital interaction with the local telcos. AT&T and Orange Business Services are working to identify appropriate forums for industry standardisation discussions to drive standardisation efforts forward.
Today, deploying new virtual network services and functions is complex.

Building SDN and NFV technologies on common, open and interoperable standards will help solve today’s challenges by delivering highly secure, intelligent, application-aware networking.

This benefits both NSPs and business customers by enabling them to deploy services faster, customise their infrastructures in near real-time, and innovate more easily within an ecosystem of interoperable service and equipment providers.

By introducing common standards and interfaces, the industry would simplify technological integration, increase operational efficiency and reduce costs, resulting in shorter deployment cycles and a faster pace of innovation.

ACN: How is Orange Business Services continuing to expand its capabilities in SDN as we get further into 2017?

SS: Orange Business Services’ Easy Go Network, which provides fully-virtualised network functions (VNF) using SDN technology, will be rolled out with additional virtualised functions from selected vendors, including application optimisation and WiFi management, which are due to be launched in 2017.

Orange is using an open-standards based approach to develop SDN and NFV and will launch a universal CPE for larger sites in 2017, with the ultimate goal of an adaptive network for customers within the next three years.

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