Charter’s Spectrum Enterprise displays hybrid SD-WAN, begins customer field trials

Charter Spectrum
Spectrum Enterprise Hybrid SD-WAN solution will allow businesses to create what the service provider calls Hybrid WANs by stitching together native Ethernet WANs and Internet-based SD-WAN connections.

ORLANDO, Florida—Spectrum Enterprise, Charter Communications’ business arm, has revealed plans to offer a hybrid SD-WAN solution, offering business customers the option to use a mix of Ethernet and traditional internet access.  

Spectrum Enterprise Hybrid SD-WAN solution will allow businesses to leverage the performance of Ethernet, ubiquitous broadband internet connectivity and SD-WAN to create what the service provider calls Hybrid WANs by stitching together native Ethernet WANs and Internet-based SD-WAN connections.

Since larger businesses have an embedded base of various technologies, Spectrum Enterprise is giving customers an option to establish, modify or expand their WAN or transition away from their legacy network services.

RELATED: Charter sets plan to enter the SD-WAN game

Specifically, the new hybrid SD-WAN product will allow business customers to achieve three main goals:

SD-WAN overlay: A customer could carry the new SD-WAN solution over any access technology for new locations or over their existing WAN.

Ethernet WAN extension: Businesses will be able to extend their current native Ethernet WAN by rapidly stitching in remote sites using SD-WAN over Internet access.

Per-site connectivity: Customers will also be able to build a network of their choice by choosing the ideal connectivity option on a per-site basis and based on unique needs for each site.

Customers will be able to get a look at Spectrum Enterprise’s SD-WAN offering during a networking proof of concept (PoC) at this year’s MEF17 global conference. During the PoC, customers can see how Charter can activate and stitch SD-WAN overlay locations into an existing Ethernet WAN connected to the public cloud, applying business policies and traffic routing, activating a virtual firewall in real time along with setting firewall policies through a user portal.

Spectrum Enterprise Hybrid SD-WAN solution will provide users with various software-controlled features, including a client portal, application-level use of business policies at each site for routing traffic, predefined network security templates and policies and automation of connectivity to the cloud.

The cable MSO’s entry into SD-WAN should not be any great surprise. During the service provider’s third-quarter earnings call, Charter CEO Tom Rutledge said it is going to offer the SD-WAN service, but he did not provide a specific timeline or specify in what markets it would initially be available.

But the cable operator’s entry into SD-WAN signals the broader effort by the cable industry to virtualize more of their respective networks. Besides Charter, fellow cable operator Comcast Business already began offering an SD-WAN service previously that it also couples with its DOCSIS 3.1 and fiber-based Ethernet product sets.

Being able to leverage the existing HFC-based DOCSIS infrastructure as well as the growing fiber and Ethernet networks will allow cable operators to quickly scale and potentially steal MPLS market share from incumbent telcos.