NTT Communications has put its acquisition of Virtela to good use by making it the backbone of a new SD-WAN service that will be available in over 190 countries to attract more multinational corporation (MNC) customers.
The new service suite leverages a software-defined network that provides the framework for NTT to offer a suite of overlay SD-WAN services for global and regional enterprises that bypasses internet peering and congestion points, along with SD-WAN network performance for enterprises and end users.
The service provider’s global SDN network provides NTT with flexibility and speed to launch new services designed to assist enterprises in transforming their businesses and responding to their competition. NTT is expanding its SDN service and now has more choices to offer customers by launching SD-WAN.
While the SD-WAN service germinated in NTT’s Virtela division, all of the company’s operating units will offer it to their respective customer bases.
“This is an NTT Group offering, so Dimension Data is taking advantage of this and NTT Data is taking advantage of this to make these SD-WAN networking services to their clients,” said Ron Haigh, president of Virtela, NTT Communications global enterprise network business unit, in an interview with FierceTelecom. “It really is a global offering from NTT Communications and the other NTT sister companies.”
Serving as the brains behind its new SD-WAN suite is the software-defined platform NTT had in house from its acquisition of Virtela in 2014. Virtela, at the time of its purchase, had offered software-based network services to business for over 12 years.
Virtela and NTT teams have been working on developing of NTT’s SDx+M Solution Strategy.
Diverse access, CPE options
Customers that order the NTT SD-WAN service have their choice of multiple access methods.
The company’s SD-WAN portfolio supports various types of network connectivity: local ISP, internet, broadband, wireless, MPLS and wireless LTE with the option to mix and match different types of connectivity at every branch office.
Additionally, NTT SD-WAN customers also have the benefit of getting optimized cloud connectivity to major SaaS and Cloud service providers. Since internet access quality can vary according to a particular market, NTT has developed a proprietary database of over 1,000 local ISPs to select the best local network providers for each customer location.
Customers also have the option to bring their own network connections via local ISPs such as the cable operator or ILEC to serve as the mechanism to carry SD-WAN traffic. NTT also manages customer provided ISP or local broadband provider network connections, eliminating a major pain point for clients in managing multiple ISP partnerships around the world.
“We have relationships with over 1,000 ISPs and network providers around the world that we can take advantage of to provide network connectivity to our customers at their branch offices no matter where they are at,” Haigh said.
Haigh said that NTT is also giving customers the option to effectively bring their own broadband or other connectivity to the table.
“In addition to all of the different flavors of connectivity we can offer whether it it is internet or MPLS, we’re also giving the customer the option to leverage their own network connectivity,” Haigh said. “We can even manage that connectivity on behalf of the customer if they choose so that’s an extra layer of flexibility we’re offering with this SD-WAN capability.”
But access diversity is only one part of NTT Communications’ SD-WAN offering. The service provider also offers customers the choice of selecting NTT provided or customer provided SD-WAN devices at their branch offices. It can manage SD-WAN technology available from both established and emerging SD-WAN technology vendors, and currently supports 10+ SD-WAN and uCPE vendors including white box options.
“One of the key aspects of providing solutions to a customer is giving them choices and flexibility,” Haigh said. “As part of this offering, we’re supporting leading and emerging SD-WAN CPE technology vendors to give customers that choice to pick and chose different types of technologies and vendors that best fit their enterprise networking requirements.”
Haigh added that “work to pick and choose those vendors if they need that help as well.”
Security, application enhancement
No less important is being able to provide security and accelerating the priority applications that customers run on their networks.
While installing direct internet connections at their branch offices is compelling in terms of raw bandwidth, it creates a number of new security challenges. This has traditionally meant that enterprises had to purchase and support local security infrastructure for each branch location, increasing risk and costs.
To alleviate the branch office security issue, NTT offers a fully integrated SD-WAN security solution via its Internet Security Gateways located at globally distributed local cloud centers (LCCs) where customers can enable web URL filtering, firewall protection and intrusion prevention services.
Customers can activate these services via a web portal and can be self-managed or managed by NTT, and customers can take advantage of flexible pay-per use models. Enterprise customers also have the option to enable these services on uCPE devices located at their branch offices.
“We have a number of ways to solve internet security,” Haigh said. “One of the ways is to enable internet security to our cloud-based secure gateways. These services can be activated in minutes and the customer can go through a web portal to control those policies or we can manage the whole solution to them end-to-end.”
Additionally, NTT’s SDN enables malware detection reporting to help enterprises deal with the persistent threat of botnets and malware without requiring any on-premise hardware or software. The service provides CIOs and their IT staff with advanced malware detection and reporting analytics to identify infected devices within the enterprise, which can dramatically reduce the time to act and to mitigate the impact of these security threats.
The service provider also offers application acceleration services via its 75 of its LCCs that are located close to branch offices to accelerate applications and improve the end-user application experience.
“We also help customers overcome some of the degradation associated with using the public internet connections and improve the end-user experience when it comes to deliver applications to end-users,” Haigh said. “We also have an application acceleration application they can elect to enable to help provide better application response time.”
To assist enterprise customers with understanding what’s running over their network, NTT’s SD-WAN service portfolio features real time streaming network analytics based on the carrier’s application visibility reporting & analytics tool, allowing enterprise customers to better manage network workload and performance. The platform’s analytics capability enables enterprises to keep a real-time look at the health of their network and continuously monitor traffic flows.
NTT's SD-WAN platform also provides multidimensional visualization with replay functionality of application performance, network security, utilization, and end-user experience, enabling organizations to analyze issues at the site level, application dimension, or individual IP address.
“One of the unique capabilities that we developed as part of this analytics tool is we made it a streaming tool,” Haigh said. “The telemetry information is flowing from the network into the customer’s portal, meaning the customer sees the information in 60 seconds about what’s going on in their network as opposed to the industry standard reporting of 15-30 minutes.”