GTT takes the plunge into uCPE waters for a new SD-WAN service

GTT is now offering a uCPE service that uses VNFs from VMware/VeloCloud, Palo Alto Networks and Fortinet. (Pixabay)

GTT is expanding its SD-WAN horizon by adding a uCPE solution that allows its customers to run multiple virtual network functions (VNFs) on a single device.

GTT is using Dell as the box vendor for its uCPE service that launched on Tuesday. GTT's Todd Kiehn, vice president of product management, said his company is employing an SD-WAN VNF from VMware/VeloCloud and security VNFs from Palo Alto Networks and Fortinet that run on virtual machine (VMs) service chains on top of the Dell box.

"WAN optimization is the next one (VNF) in our kit," Kiehn said. "From there we really need to read our clients' demands and see what makes sense as part of our kit, but we will most likely add more VNFs based on customer demand."

GTT first launched an SD-WAN service two years ago using VMware/VeloCloud. Early last year, GTT bought Interoute for $2.3 billion in cash. Interoute had launched its SD-WAN service with vendor Silver Peak.

The benefits of uCPE are based on using a single off-the-shelf box coupled with software instead of numerous pieces of equipment. With uCPE, service providers can save on capex related to buying multiple devices and benefit from deploying multiple virtual network functions (VNFs) and cloud-native applications in production.

RELATED: Industry Voices—Chua: SD-WAN and uCPE – not quite done yet

While service providers such as Orange Business Services and Colt Technology Services have deployed uCPE boxes with their customers, in general the service provider uptake on uCPE has been slow. Frost & Sullivan's Roopa Honnachari, industry director, information and communications technologies, said in an email to FierceTelecom that some of the hurdles for uCPE deployments include cost and the fact that service chaining and orchestrating multiple VNFs on a uCPE is something that service providers are still figuring out.

"Certainly the promise has been there over the past 18 to 24 months," Kiehn said. "It took us a little bit of time to recognize that. We've been able to work on this for the past year or so since the Interoute acquisition. Now we have a product that we think will be a big hit in the market and will address a lot of client needs."

"To us and our clients the time is right. We have an operational model. We have a cost model. We have a sufficient mass of clients asking for multiple services on the same device that we felt it was the right time to complete the project and get it into the market at this time."

While uCPE can also help service providers avoid lock in with a single SD-WAN vendor, Kiehn said that benefit was farther down GTT's list.

"That's certainly, in the long run, kind of key about this," he said. "It is straightforward to be able to move clients between services as their needs change and our relationships with vendors change over time, but that's probably the seventh or eight reason we've moved to uCPE. It was driven much more around the ability to quickly provision services and to be able to define our own combination of offerings. Those are the primary reasons."