Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to attend and participate in the Cloud Communication Summit in central London. The event was a full house despite the chilled weather and rain. A wide range of attendees included enterprise customers, Service Providers, UCaaS providers (Unified communications as a service), CPaaS (Communications-Platform-as-a-Service), System integrators with SD-WAN focus, and MSPs joined and shared their viewpoints. Every vendor at the Cloud Communications Summit event was talking about exploring innovation in telecoms and cloud communications and how they are disrupting the market by developing and innovating in this cloud era. One interesting fact that came out was that by 2021, 90% of IT leaders will not purchase premises-based UC infrastructure.
There were multiple sessions and speaking panels with industry experts on Day 2, including sessions focused around innovation and customer experience. Some of the session highlights were innovation in UCaaS, how the cloud is changing the telecom market, privacy rules with GDPR, preparing for Brexit with challenges to secure cross border data flow with EU and third country, future technologies like AI and Chatbot Evolution, and how AI and IoT will change the marketplace. Some of the innovation trends in the industry were eye openers to how AI technology leverages Chatbot is making restaurant reservation a thing of the past. Today, chatbots are making reservations on your behalf.
There were expert panels discussing key areas of innovation in analytics, customer experience, SD-WAN game-changers, and the Future of SD-WAN.
I was part of the speaking panel for “Future of SD-WAN” and had many interesting questions from the moderator and audience. Let’s take a look into the panel details from a VMware SD-WAN by VeloCloud point of view.
Future of SD-WAN
Queen Elizabeth II Centre, Broad Sanctuary, Westminster, London SW1P 3EE, UK
Panel Time: 15:35 Panel Location: Victoria Room
Panel Moderator: Gail Smith from Cavell Group
- Mike Wilkinson | Chief Product Officer, Infovista
- Mark Daley | Director, Digital Strategy & Business Development, Epsilon
- Adrian Tate | VP Sales EMEA, Oracle Communications
- Rohan Naggi | Senior Manager, Technical Product Management, VMware SD-WAN by VeloCloud
Using the platform vendors and wholesale carrier perspective to explore next steps in SD-WAN market development and technology.
Panel Topic areas:
Question 1: What are the dominant business drivers / use cases? Is it shifting over time?
Here was my four-part response:
(A) Cost Driver: SD-WAN started out with a cost driver for MPLS and then enterprises shifted away from MPLS and start using broadband to lower the cost. Enterprises were waiting to get their MPLS contract terminated. There were also enterprises looking for hybrid approach of keeping broadband + MPLS and were pushing the service provider to lower the MPLS cost.
VMware SD-WAN supports both Enterprise and service provider architecture. This means with VMware SD-WAN there is no rip and replace for MPLS. Both public and private circuits can be augmented for enterprise use.
(B) Shift to Cloud: Real time applications are getting more and more in cloud. Delivering real time apps is more cloud based. With MPLS, cloud-based application traffic will get backhauled to the data center and then to the cloud. This is not an efficient way all the time. With SD-WAN, these cloud apps can be directly accessed from the broadband connection in an optimized and secured way. SD-WAN provides last mile protection for these cloud/SaaS applications.
(C) Data Center Footprint: Enterprise wants to lower the data center footprint. Enterprises are moving from on-premises deployment model to cloud and some of the enterprises are also using a hybrid approach to keep on premise and cloud data center model.
(D) Service Chaining: With service chaining, SD-WAN is seen as a mechanism to service chain security services.
Question 2: For SD-WAN, does UK, EMEA differ from US market experience?
- Shift to Broadband: We see that the US market is aggressively going towards broadband and customers are giving away MPLS with end of contract from MPLS provider. In Europe, customers are augmenting the MPLS and internet WAN connections.
- Movement to cloud services. I am also seeing a big push for adoption of cloud services (leveraging AWS Cloud gateway and Azure Virtual WAN).
- Centralized Management: Serivce Providers / MSPs are looking at centralized management for their customer network to avoid truck load.
- Experimenting UCPE approach: USA and European market service providers and MSPs are expanding the horizon by taking the UCPE approach to service chain with not only security services but multiple network functions like routing, firewall, SD-WAN etc.
Question 3: OTT (Over-the-Top) Challenges
(A) Is it becoming necessary for the Cloud Comm providers to enter the WAN?
Yes, cloud providers are dipping their toes in the cloud using cloud gateway, AWS transit GW, and Azure Virtual WAN along with SD-WAN to help them protect the last mile for customer traffic.
(B) Does voice and video need SD-WAN to succeed?
Yes, for sure. As per the IQR (Internet Quality Report), during business hours, 17% of the time internet link quality is not strong enough to support Audio/Video traffic. This is where SD-WAN is leveraged to protect application traffic against Blackout/Brownout conditions.
(C) How are MSPs using SD-WAN Tools for visibility and analytics? They primarily use it for troubleshooting where in the network infrastructure there is an issue, whether its in their network or 3rd
ISP are using homegrown tools and Rest API. With SD-WAN, development cycles for REST API are reduced greatly.
(D) Capabilities and price point challenges/opportunities for OTT/mid-market players?
The main challenges are managing the customer network and providing insight to the network with Rest API. integrating the VNF with UCPE is the value add for mid-market players.
(E) How well are MSPs performing compared to other channels?
Resellers will not be able to do a detailed integration, but MSPs can sell the overall solution. Resellers are looking at point of sale focused only on selling the router. MSPs focus on providing an end to end solution to the customer.
(F) What are the deployment alternatives MSPs are following (own Platform/tightly integrated, Vendor hosted and managed, etc.)?
MSP can provide best of breed solutions to the end customer. REST API are also being leveraged heavily by the MSP.
Question 4: Features and Technology:
What are the primary areas of investment / feature enhancement?
The main areas are edge computing and IoT. Auto tuning your network based on what you see and which application is using the network can now be done by adjusting the business policy accordingly and dynamically through machine learning.
(A) LAN WAN boundary – is it being crossed (and how)?
Today, analytics are not just restricted to LAN. Enterprise network infrastructure teams use analytics and packet inspection for end to end flow. For this to happen, full visibility is required from the user initiating the traffic from the source and till the packet reaches the destination. Future decisions to select a specific link, what traffic to be prioritized, how much of network is being utilized, how much of non-business compliance application traffic is seen and more can be used by an enterprise to fine tune the network.
(B) Are there specific advances in the area of IoT?
Edge compute platforms will host the IoT GW locally. There are UCPE devices which come with Industrial network interfaces to connect them to IP networks. IoT GW can facilitate that conversion.
(C) Breaking proprietary approach – interconnection, cooperation, federation — are there real-world examples of carrier interoperability?
This is an emerging topic and we are working on multi vendor SD-WAN solutions with governing bodies like ONUG/MEF.