CenturyLink serves up managed hybrid SD-WAN, addresses MPLS, broadband environments

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In tandem with offering hybrid WAN configurations, CenturyLink is also stepping up its network security focus of the SD-WAN platform.  

CenturyLink has introduced its new managed Hybrid SD-WAN solution, allowing businesses to integrate and optimize traffic flow over a mix of broadband internet connections and private MPLS networks.

Being able to leverage a mix of MPLS and broadband networks will allow business users to get the benefits of a managed solution and lower-priced solutions.

In order to optimize network traffic delivery across broadband and MPLS, CenturyLink is using application-aware routing to automatically identify the best end-to-end path based on application requirements and network latency. As a result, CenturyLink claims it can deliver optimal performance between users and applications, regardless of whether they reside on-premises or in the cloud.

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“As we have worked to develop these hybrid solutions, we have understood the acquisition and the management of the second WAN link,” said Troy Trenchard, VP of product management for CenturyLink, in an interview with FierceTelecom. “Whether that’s coming from us or from a third-party, there’s a lot of customers that have told us that we’d like you to aggregate that network link and give us a single bill.”

The service provider can offer its SD-WAN capabilities, including provisioning broadband or MPLS, as part of a broader service bundle.

These new solutions build on CenturyLink’s managed standalone SD-WAN service that it introduced last June.

“A lot of the initial scenario was the customer would acquire the other WAN link and now we’re saying this is an amount of complexity you don’t want to deal with,” Trenchard said. “The SD-WAN bundles we introduced are simplifying that acquisition and ongoing management of not just the SD-WAN solution, but the additional broadband connection being used to supplement MPLS in this hybrid WAN connection.”

CenturyLink Managed Hybrid SD-WAN solutions are also available to CenturyLink Alliance program partners.

Focus on hybrid WANs

A key focus of CenturyLink’s Managed Hybrid SD-WAN is driving a hybrid WAN environment.

Hybrid WAN is a way for a service provider to connect a geographically dispersed WAN by sending traffic over two or more connection types. The concept has become attractive to enterprises with many branch offices because it can produce substantial financial savings and significantly increased bandwidth.

The service provider sees the hybrid WAN environment playing out in three ways for its customer base:

  • Silver: Focused on new sites, this package provisions the MPLS and broadband and the SD-WAN solution.
  • Gold: Similar to the Silver package, this package manages the connectitivity and implements 2 SD-WAN devices at the sites.
  • Bronze: Designed for a customer that has existing MPLS connections, CenturyLink will bring the SD-WAN and broadband solution and provide management on top of MPLS.

CenturyLink said its Managed Hybrid SD-WAN solutions allow businesses to accelerate their transformation to next-generation networks by alleviating the integration, operations and performance management complexities associated with creating these WAN environments.

Customers will be able to get access to a mix of services including core infrastructure, design and implementation, security, transport and provider management, and centralized monitoring and management. The service provider can deliver hybrid WAN packages “as a service” for a set monthly price.

“We have been talking about SD-WAN for a few years, but the initial drive was from enterprises who built and managed it themselves,” Trenchard said. “What we found as we brought our solution out is there’s people that want to manage their networks, but they want the WAN to be a predictable and simple solution.”

Trenchard added that with its SD-WAN bundles it is helping to simplify the adoption of SD-WAN for its customers.

“We have identified the most common scenarios that we have seen and expect to see for a while by simplifying it for the customer by creating the bundles that look like a single solution,” Trenchard said.

Maintaining security

In tandem with offering hybrid WAN configurations, CenturyLink is also stepping up its network security focus of the SD-WAN platform.

The SD-WAN solution offers a number of security features, including built-in encryption, segmentation and security policy control via a central portal secures traffic at all business locations, including branches.

CenturyLink’s suite of managed security services, including security log monitoring plus incident management and response services, can also be leveraged.

A firewall is bundled in the SD-WAN device itself and faces the broadband internet connection.

"There is lot of security functionality that is part of the SD-WAN technology," Trenchard said. "For those companies that need an even higher level of protection, CenturyLink can layer on our Managed Security Services for threat monitoring, incident response and other related services."