Cincinnati Bell’s CBTS: We’re adding 20-30 new SD-WAN, NaaS customers a month

CBTS is taking a two-pronged approach to SD-WAN, using VeloCloud and Cisco’s Meraki.

Cincinnati Bell’s CBTS division is seeing the fruits of its SD-WAN labor already paying off as the company continues to equip more customers with the service.

The service provider recently won a deal to equip MLB team Cincinnati Reds with its SD-WAN and NaaS offerings as a way to help player scouts evaluate new talent, for example.

Cincinnati Reds' front office executives and scouts are able to watch players and prospects in real time at any one of the team’s seven locations across the United States.

RELATED: Cincinnati Bell Business, CBTS name VeloCloud as SD-WAN partner, enhances SaaS, voice offerings

Joe Putnick, managing director of new solution design for CBTS, told FierceTelecom that customer demand and traction continues to grow rapidly. “We have a lot of sites that are installed,” Putnick said. “We’re installing probably close to 30 sites a month and that’s increasing.”

CBTS is taking a two-pronged approach to SD-WAN. The service provider is using two vendors—Cisco’s Meraki and VeloCloud.

For its network as a service (NaaS) offering, CBTS is leveraging Cisco's Meraki technology, which is designed for both SMB and midmarket companies with 1-1,000 employees. It can also accommodate enterprise organizations with over 1,000 employees.

CBTS’ SD-WAN, which leverages VeloCloud’s platform, features a network of strategically placed cloud gateways used for enhancing both Software as a Service (SaaS) and CBB’s Connected Office Voice offerings.

“We have two horses in the SD-WAN race,” Putnick said. “We have this Meraki solution we call NaaS and continue to see full value in the full stack with the Meraki dashboard.”

Putnick added that “VeloCloud has unique use cases as well.”

Vendor consolidation ahead
Like other service providers, CBTS is fully aware of the flood of SD-WAN-related vendors in the market today.

CBTS agrees with industry watchers that there are too many vendors in the segment.

Led by Cisco, the SD-WAN has already begun to consolidate. Besides purchasing Meraki, Cisco also more recently bought SD-WAN software vendor Viptela and further deals are likely to come this year.

“The way I see the SD-WAN market unfolding is it’s in its infancy,” Putnick said. “Over the next 2-4, you’re going to see a lot of acquisitions and a lot of folks going in out of business and that will finally stabilize on what is SD-WAN.”

At the same time, CBTS plans to evaluate new and existing SD-WAN solutions and how they can be applied to satisfy customer needs.

“We’re going to continue to evaluate solutions from other providers and continuing to invest in the two we have gone to market with,” Putnick said.

Hybrid environments continue

Since many of its customers have existing T-1 and MPLS networks, CBTS sees many of its clients operating a hybrid network that puts SD-WAN at some sites.

Having already implemented broadband and other access technologies, CBTS’ customers can leverage next-gen SD-WAN as part of a broader set of capabilities for each business site.

“Most of our customers are in a hybrid mode,” Putnick said. “A lot have existing MPLS networks they are laying on top I would say consumer or business grade internet and creating this full mesh network that allows them to operate under any IP transit.”

In other cases, a number of CBTS’ retail customers that today use traditional broadband circuits will go directly to SD-WAN.

Putnick said some of its clients have decided to replace their legacy network with SD-WAN. “Two of our largest customers came from an MPLS network,” Putnick said. “They ripped it out and went completely over the top.”