Verizon's Lonker: SD-WAN is the 'low-hanging' virtual fruit

Verizon says that while its enterprise customers are still in the early stages of virtualizing their network functions these companies are seeing value in software defined wide area networking (SD-WAN).

Leveraging a hybrid WAN architecture, SD-WAN is an approach to designing and deploying an enterprise WAN that uses SDN to determine the most effective way to route traffic to remote locations such as a company branch office. This service allows enterprise customers to more rapidly add service to new and existing offices quicker than traditional hardware-based solutions.

Vickie Lonker, director of product management for SDN for Verizon, said during a fireside chat that it is seeing more of its customer base embrace SD-WAN services as the first move in their network virtualization efforts.

“Many customers are starting with an SD-WAN solution,” Lonker said. “SD-WAN is really the low hanging fruit because it’s available now and it’s proven to work and an enterprise can achieve a real business outcome.”

Earlier this year Verizon expanded its SD-WAN offering by adding Viptela's SD-WAN Platform to its service offering. The solution expands Verizon's Managed SD-WAN portfolio currently based on Cisco's iWAN technology in the U.S., Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, which it launched in 2015. 

The telco currently offers its SD-WAN service in the United States, Europe and the Asia Pacific region. By the end of the year, Verizon plans to offer its virtual CPE (customer premises equipment) services to over 30 global markets allowing business customers to take advantage of software-based services that reside in the telco’s cloud network.

Customer acceptance of Verizon’s SD-WAN offering is growing. Verizon currently has 90 active implementations going on with 16 full scale deployments. Additionally, Verizon has over 30 active participants taking part in a trial universal CPE program.

“We’re confident that SD-WAN technology is ready to go,” said Shawn Hakl, VP of product and new business innovation for Verizon. “The interest in universal CPE, or the notion of conducting software deployments across the network, is also growing.”

Lonker said that the customers purchasing SD-WAN are starting to feel more comfortable with the virtualization concept.

“I am finding that because customers have already experienced virtualization in the data center they are less afraid of virtualization in the network than you might think,” Lonker said. “Some customers are wondering why the market took so long to get to this place.”

Although enterprises are embracing virtualized services like SD-WAN, Lonker said it will take time for them to extend it throughout their locations.

“I think the reality is that we’ll be in a hybrid world for many years,” Lonker said. “I am finding that customers are responding positively to the fact that they need not worry about managing both virtual physical CPE and physical CPE when they partner with a company like Verizon and like the as a service model.”

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