Orange Business Services is examining how software-defined networking (SDN) and network-function virtualization (NFV) could play a role in the small-to-medium-sized business (SMB) market by conducting a pilot test with local businesses in France.
Beginning in April, about 10 SMBs (with up to 10 sites) will test real-world conditions for a year using a digital plug-and-play SDN offer developed by Orange Business Services. These companies will use the SDN capabilities to create and manage in real time their Intranet and Internet networks via a web portal. Through this portal, an SMB's network manager can order and customize new virtual application services including Internet content filtering, advanced security and antivirus.
In addition, the SDN offering will enable participating SMBs to deploy the best available broadband solution (i.e., ADSL, VDSL2, or a fiber-based offering) and an on-premises router to access service. Participating companies will also get access to advance support services from the project team carrying out the SDN pilot.
To carry out the pilot, Orange has deployed in its business network an SDN controller and virtualized services. During the pilot it will collect feedback that it says it will use to adjust the positioning and capabilities of the SDN-based offering that it plans to launch on a commercial basis next year.
The SDN pilot is part of a broader program Orange has launched called "SDN for Business" that it says is focused on implementing Orange Business Services' SDN strategy. It is also part of the broader company's network evolution.
Orange's move follows that of a number of U.S.-based telcos, such as AT&T (NYSE: T) and CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL), that have made SDN a key part of their next-gen network strategies.
AT&T has set a rather aggressive timeline to implement more software-driven capabilities into its network. Ultimately, the telco's goal is to virtualize and control over 75 percent of its network using this new architecture by 2020.
Meanwhile, CenturyLink recently named Cyan's Blue Planet as its NFV Orchestrator to deliver services to both its growing base of large enterprise and SMB customers.
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