SD-WAN Buyer’s Guide: A Summary of Potential Technical Benefits

J. Stradling

J. Stradling

Summary Bullets:

  • SD-WAN complements dedicated IP/MPLS VPNs; it’s a case of different horses for different courses, with certain parts of the IT estate benefiting from both technologies.
  • SD-WAN services offer rapid turn-up for multiple branch sites where typically there might not be an IT technician on site.
  • SD-WAN solutions can be crafted to give cost-effective and agile support for leveraging IaaS environments, and will typically support traffic optimization and robust security.

Software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) services received enormous marketing attention during 2016, as various providers and operators sought to gain mindshare among their potential customer bases. As we proceed through early 2017, it is now clear that SD-WAN services can be sourced from a wide variety of company types including telcos, platform developers, hardware manufacturers, cloud providers and software developers. For the average IT manager, this has made the market landscape difficult to understand and navigate to find a solution. Read more of this post

Zero Touch Provisioning (ZTP) Begins to Enter the Scene in Software-defined Enterprise WANs

J. Stradling

J. Stradling

Summary Bullets:

• Zero-touch provisioning (ZTP) enables the customer to implement WAN circuits without requiring any manual intervention

• SD-WAN products are increasingly available from global service providers and ‘automated zero-touch deployments’ will become standard features in WAN offerings during 2016-2017

• Market disruptors such as VeloCloud and Glue Networks tout zero-touch capabilities in their SD-WAN proposals

ZTP is not a brand new concept to the IT world; it is just late to the game with respect to data networks. Server provisioning moved to virtualized models, using zero-touch and automated processes, early on in the evolution of IT; and these capabilities are now extending into data networking. For the purpose of this blog, the principles of software-defined networking are the abstraction of three planes: management, control, and data, applied to a specific enterprise WAN. Virtual network functions (VNFs) are not the primary focus of this blog. Read more of this post

Is It a Bird? Is It a Plane? No, It’s a Google/SpaceX Satellite!

J. Stradling

J. Stradling

Summary Bullets:

  • Satellite technology advancements, including steerable beams as well as new middle Earth orbit (MEO) and low Earth orbit (LEO) constellations, can potentially benefit businesses with cost-effective, low-latency, high-speed connectivity.
  • Satellite innovation can open new enterprise-grade applications leveraging lower costs and higher performance, such as deploying satellite backup in case of terrestrial network outage and expanding target markets for cloud computing services.

Robust connectivity to the Internet worldwide remains elusive despite the aggressive efforts of pioneers such as Google and investment partner Fidelity. There are vast expanses of land and sea where the choice is between high-latency (up to one second per hop) GEO satellites, or lower-latency but very narrowband LEO or MEO constellations such as Orbcomm, Globalstar or Iridium. Read more of this post

The Impact of Embracing the Open Enterprise and Permitting BYOD on Corporate Security

J. Stradling

J. Stradling

Summary Bullets:

  • There were numerous high-profile breaches in 2015, such as Sony and VW.
  • Breached data events have driven up the importance of enterprise ICT security, with new threats emerging as more companies allow end users to bring their own handhelds and use their own apps.
  • There is a growing focus on threat intelligence.

The enterprise segment is evolving towards an ‘open enterprise’ environment, whereby the staff are able to use their own mobile handsets and leverage whichever apps they choose to do business. The ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) environment opens new chinks for cyber-criminals to try to exploit, which in turn drives the company security officer to seek better methods for securing the integrity of corporate data. The increasing number of security incidents in 2015 is driving demand for security services, with a corresponding jump in allocations of ICT security spend. Read more of this post

Challenges and Opportunities for the Enterprise Embracing BYOD and Flexible Office Policies

Joel Stradling

Joel Stradling

Summary Bullets:

  • Our research indicates that two-thirds of business use personally owned mobile devices for doing business.
  • Working remotely can have some downsides, such as insufficient bandwidth for running a video or VoIP conference.

There are more and more examples of companies that are open to their employees using their own personal handhelds and whichever apps they might choose to conduct business. This might even be a key criterion for budding new recruits considering which company to join, so the IT department has to adapt and loosen some rules to attract the best flip-flop and shorts-wearing talent. Read more of this post

KPN to Cut 380 Jobs – Then What?

Summary Bullets:

  • KPN’s retrenchments are a response to the shift from circuit to packet switching technologies, increased competition, and the lower margins available now.
  • KPN has got some fat in its balance sheet; its next move will be vital to its future.

The reorganisation of KPN’s staff, with the net loss of 380 jobs just before Christmas, is harsh for those who face a bleak winter, but it seems mild in comparison with what other operators have gone through moving from circuit switching to packet switching. But that’s not the only problem KPN faces. Read more of this post

Diameter Signaling Over IP Exchange Promises Bright New Horizon for 4G LTE Roaming

Joel Stradling

Joel Stradling

Summary Bullets:

  • Diameter signaling is very complex and can be costly for mobile network operators (MNOs) to deliver
  • Wholesale carriers are moving in to help solve these complexity issues on behalf of MNO clients, and in the near future more widely available 4G roaming will help business users be more productive while on the road

Whilst Diameter signaling and IPX seem purely technical terms that have little to do with enterprise IT and communications, the fact is, the implications of these technologies on the way we can be productive while on the move are considerable. Imagine leaving your home 4G network, getting on a plane to travel to another country, and within minutes of landing, zap! you are once again able to enjoy high-speed mobile access and enterprise-quality video and voice. However, users are going to have to be aware of how their cross-border ubiquitous 4G LTE mobile experience is going to cause a huge spike in the monthly bill. We are all familiar with the high data roaming costs that can come with mobile broadband roaming, and therefore the enterprise customer needs to be continually pushing mobile vendors for fairer terms and prices, and already begin conversations on cost effective widespread 4G LTE roaming. Vodafone, for example, has recently suggested that 4G doubles data usage and that it expects 4G to increase mobile data revenues, including roaming, even in the light of incoming EU roaming legislation. Read more of this post

Extending Enterprise WANs into Carrier-Neutral Locations May Lower Costs, Boost Performance and Speed Turn-up of Cloud Services

Joel Stradling

Joel Stradling

Summary Bullets:

  • Equinix Performance Hub – building enterprise WANs around the company’s data centres – makes its appeal around improved network performance and application delivery.
  • The advantages of extending a WAN into carrier-neutral exchanges include easy access to cloud-ready services and arbitrage on network traffic, but exchanges cannot do everything a dedicated WAN provider can.

On March 5, 2014, Equinix announced an initiative to launch Performance Hub, a solution that lets enterprises re-architect their WANs around the company’s International Business Exchange data centres.  The service promises a host of improvements for enterprises, including simplified cloud deployments, an optimized network and better quality of experience (QoE).  Equinix explicitly targets the enterprise segment with Performance Hub; the solution is initially available in North America, with a global launch planned in the near future.  According to the company, existing customers for its Performance Hub architecture include Chevron, eBay and Nvidia.  The company is also touting additional enhanced cloud connectivity through Performance Hub, as Equinix can plug enterprises directly into premium web-based apps, and to cloud computing providers such as Amazon Web Services and MS Windows Azure. Read more of this post

G.fast Squeezes Big Juice from Copper Pair; TeliaSonera Launches Helsinki Pilot

Joel Stradling

Joel Stradling

Summary Bullets:

  • Widely available 500 Mbps speeds over copper remain several years away, but a handful of European incumbents are looking at the technology very carefully as a realistic means to get high-performance access economically leveraging existing copper plant.
  • The inflection point for widespread availability is going to hinge on sensible market regulation, so that domestic incumbents are encouraged to invest in G.fast while alternative ISPs and telcos have incentives to deploy G.fast-based offerings via LLU.

It is amazing to see how humble copper continues to guarantee its own survival based on good reasons to maintain it in the face of growing optical fibre investments.  Last July, A1 Telekom Austria and Alcatel-Lucent achieved 1.1 Gbps speeds over good quality cable along a distance of 70 metres and 800 Mbps over 100 metres in test cases.  The ITU-T founded the G.fast group in 2011, and the program has the support of several operators, chipset manufacturers and equipment vendors.  But, here’s the rub: Rollout is bound to become a contentious issue, fraught with legal battles between incumbents and alternative providers and overseen by domestic market watchdogs.  When it comes to deploying equipment and chipsets supporting G.fast, why would the incumbent invest only to be forced to hand the keys to the treasure chest to rivals ISPs and telcos?  Let’s leave the legal battles to one side; suffice to say, this will continue to keep the legal heads in Brussels, and throughout Europe, busy for a while to come.  Luckily, the early phases of DSL and the enforcement of LLU have formed a foundation, and G.fast regulation will surely be built upon similar models.  Across Europe and the rest of the world, copper pair quality, distances from exchanges and construction also vary wildly, so there will only ever be a patchwork quilt rollout for G.fast, with differences a certainty country by country.  Wholesale divisions, such as BT Wholesale, may play a fundamental role in developing white label versions that alternative telcos and ISPs can then take to a wider national market, which will help to encourage a healthy competitive landscape that ultimately benefits the buyer. Read more of this post

It’s a Game of Cops and Robbers: Communications Fraudsters Pose a Threat, but Anti-Fraud Measures Are Available

Joel Stradling

Joel Stradling

Summary Bullets:

  • Communications fraud is a huge business bleeding massive sums of revenue.
  • Fraudsters are sophisticated; attacks are constant and well-orchestrated by criminal gangs.
  • Be vigilant!  Invest in an anti-fraud system if your business relies on high-volume voice traffic.

Telecom fraud can be conducted via a bewildering range of sneaky tricks and tactics, including PBX dial-through, inflated call rates on premium numbers, SIM box theft, and international bypass.  Examples of revenue loss for telecom providers include falsely boosted traffic, or bypassing termination rates by false SIM box locations.  A1 Telekom Austria has put the figure of annual revenue loss for carriers at shocking 6% of overall revenue.  The BYOD phenomenon, more IT running in the cloud, and the wider prevalence of M2M will all contribute to greater exposure of networks supporting cloud-based and mobile offerings to hacking.  Moreover, as IP networks become globally ubiquitous, communications fraud becomes a part of the bigger overall cybercrime picture, whereby the fraudster only needs a computer and Internet access to conduct criminal activity.  Read more of this post