Telstra Vantage 2017: Programmable Network Inches Ahead of Competitors in the Software-Defined Space

S. Soh

Summary Bullets:

  • Enterprises need a more agile network solution to support rapidly changing IT requirements and the migration of workloads to the cloud.
  • Telstra’s Programmable Network is designed to overcome challenges enterprises are facing, and the platform is developed and enhanced in-house through an agile and iterative approach.

Telstra Programmable Network (TPN) is an elegant platform designed to solve some issues enterprises are facing. In the digital era, enterprises need to move fast to transform their business and stay competitive. Increasingly, companies are gathering and analysing data to develop competitive advantages. IT needs to ensure that their network solutions are flexible to support digital platforms and hybrid cloud services. Speed (fast provisioning), agility (scale up and down) and cost-effectiveness are important with end users demanding more and the budget not increasing proportionately. In addition, with more applications and services running over the network, there needs to be tools to enable ease of management and visibility.

Whilst compute, storage, software, etc. are moving to different consumption-based, scalable models, network services have remain fairly rigid. Enterprises traditionally looked at adding bandwidth and/or using network optimisation to cope with the increase in traffic. There are now software-defined solutions (NFV and SD-WAN) to improve network agility, but few telcos have been able to develop a comprehensive platform that brings all the different parts together. TPN is the telco’s attempt to pull all capabilities under a single umbrella. This platform offers bandwidth-on-demand, SD-WAN and connection to various public clouds, plus the growing range of NFV capabilities such as firewall and WAN optimization that can be ordered from a central platform. The approach Telstra adopts is to introduce a minimum viable product for each feature and gradually improve and scale it through an iterative product development process. Instead of relying on equipment vendors to develop such a platform, Telstra will also develop its own ‘IP’ and integration capabilities. This will enable Telstra to gain differentiation in terms of speed to market and control of its roadmap.

TPN is now available in Australia and globally. The carrier has over 30 SDN PoPs globally to deliver this solution. The platform is connected to global cloud providers such as AWS, Microsoft Azure and IBM Cloud. Telstra highlighted key elements added at Vantage 2017. Firstly, Telstra is improving the virtual network functions and adding partners such as VeloCloud for SD-WAN (which also had a stand at Vantage). Telstra also introduced a virtual CPE option, which removes the need to invest in dedicated hardware for different functions. Through a single portal, customers can access all the features, manage their network resources and have visibility into cost and utilisation. Through APIs and data analytics, there are potentially more use cases that Telstra can enable going forward.

The launch of TPN and the roadmap place Telstra in the same rank as leading providers in this space, including AT&T, NTT Com, Verizon, CenturyLink and Tata Communications. Whilst the market is becoming aware of the benefits of NFV and SD-WAN, enterprises (especially those in Asia-Pacific) do not fully understand the benefits. Telstra is ahead of the curve in AP, and it will need to engage channel partners, especially the SIs, to drive awareness and adoption outside of its base of customers and prospects.

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