It’s said that when you wait for a bus, you wait a long time and then three come along all at once. While Telstra has announced three SDN products based in Cisco technology its customers outside of Australia are going to have to wait a little bit longer. Telstra habitually develops and tests its new products in Australia before rolling them out across the globe. This is not a bad thing but it does mean that customers outside Australia are being constantly teased about what they will eventually receive..
When Cisco launched their Intercloud network with a $1 billion investment in 2014, Telstra were one of the first companies to sign up to it. This is the latest announcement around that partnership and brings Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) into the hands of enterprise customers.
In total Telstra has announced three products that will become available, though only one of these is available now, and that one only in beta. Philip Jones, Telstra Executive Director of Global Products and Solutions comments: “Just as cloud computing redefined the user compute experience – with simple, dynamic configuration and provisioning – SDN and NFV technologies are redefining the user experience on the network. By allowing us to overcome the constraints of traditional network infrastructure, the software driven customer experiences dramatically increases our agility by enabling us to quickly create new solutions, and puts the control of those solutions into the hands of our customers.”
Cloud Gateway Protection
This is the only product that is available from today and it is a beta release. Cloud Gateway protection provides a virtual security appliance that can be deployed within minutes into a company’s network. It will protect the enterprise from malicious attacks across various vectors. It will protect Internet access, cloud services and Next IP networks, the Telstra global IP network solution..
Internet Virtual Private Network (Internet VPN)
This product will be available later in the month and will enable companies to deliver secure networking from the Telstra online portal. This is a true SDN feature and will allow companies to set up secure connections to temporary sites, mobile connections and other locations. It creates a secure, encrypted links to each specified location in a simplified way that has not been possible before from a Telstra customer portal before.
Data Centre Interconnect
The third product has no launch date yet but is an extension of Telstra’s global data centre interconnect SDN product, PEN. It will deliver a similar functionality for global data centres that Telstra are delivering with Internet VPN. It will enable companies to quickly connect point to point links between domestic and global data centres. For those customers outside Australia this is probably the most interesting news although the likelihood is that when it is finally announced the other services will also become available as well.
Data Centre Interconnect is far more complex than the other solutions as it needs to link back into the Telstra billing systems as well. The inference from Telstra is that this will not be a locked down approach but will deliver flexibility to companies with variable contract elements such as contract length and speeds, and even a pay-as-you-go option.
It will be interesting to see how well this service works. Over the last few years several companies have attempted to integrate flexible networking services into their portfolio with mixed success. While the services might flex there have often been billing issues that go unresolved. If Telstra and Cisco can integrate SDN into their legacy billing systems this will be some achievement.
Leveraging Cisco SDN technology
These new products will fall under Telstra’s central marketplace for virtualised managed services and demonstrate how well Telstra have been working with Cisco to deliver products into customers hands. While the products that are now available are hardly ground breaking, once fully delivered they will be an interesting portfolio. If they can deliver the data centre Interconnect service it will be interesting to see whether Telstra look to leverage this outside of their own data centres and into other InterCloud partners.
Jones acknowledged that these were the first steps in a longer path and added: “Today’s technologies like cloud computing and big data analytics, need a network that has the power to handle bandwidth hungry applications and can think and respond instantly to changing demands: securely and reliably. These first offerings will enable our customers to enjoy all the benefits of cloud and network services, through a single, self-service portal, with on-demand functionality.
“Telstra and Cisco have created a world-leading software-defined platform for network innovation. This is a significant milestone for Telstra as we transform from a traditional carrier to a world class agile telco and technology company.”
For Cisco this is another of their lead partners finally delivering on long promised SDN technologies for Enterprise customers. Kelly Ahuja, Cisco’s Senior Vice President of Service Provider Business, Products, and Solutions, commented: “This is yet another example of Cisco’s commitment to redefining the networks of the future. Software and virtualisation are set to transform the network and customer experience for thousands of businesses everywhere.
“By combining Cisco’s agile and flexible software platform with Telstra’s customer focused and customer friendly range of products, we send a powerful message to the industry and a provide a clear example of how to develop and design the network services of tomorrow.”
While this is good news for Telstra’s Australian customers it is also interesting for those outside of the region. Whether Telstra look to extend the functionality beyond not just their own data centres but also into others will be of great interest to many.
There are other players in the market that have been making great strides in the SDN arena for some time though and Telstra may be late to the party. MegaPort have been extending their SDN network for several months and NTT Communications are also developing SDN technology for the WAN. It will be interesting to see who leverages the power of SDN in the coming months and if Telstra and can make their service available quickly whether they can convince any enterprise to move to their Next IP network.