AT&T has 300 plus Petabytes of data traversing its network every day. With companies and applications moving to the cloud, the influx of data and devices is pushing the limits of traditional Wide Area Network (WAN) architectures, making it nearly impossible for traditional networks to keep up with workload requirements.
What is SD WAN Technology
Software-defined networking on the WAN (SD-WAN), however, has enabled businesses to improve performance, reduce costs, and provide robust security. It’s a cloud-scale, software-driven architecture that routes traffic around blockages, provides application performance, and adapts to changing conditions—all without direct IT intervention.
Recently, I had the privilege of speaking with Rupesh Chokshi the Assistant Vice President Edge Solutions and Product Marketing Management for AT&T Business. The Enterprise Edge team is transforming services and networks using software defined networking (SDN), network function virtualisation (NFV) and SD-WAN technologies.
Rupesh explained that the beauty of SD-WAN is that it allows customers to harness the power of the cloud. With SD-WAN enterprises can enable applications in minutes, on any platform, with highly consistent, usually predictable performance. SD-WAN also helps to optimise the WAN, which means better experiences for customers and employees.
SD-WAN optimises software-as-a-service (SaaS) performance for Office 365, Salesforce, and other cloud-based apps. It also delivers virtually seamless connectivity to the cloud to simplify workflows for many customers—including application-aware policies that allow real-time enforcement for cloud and on-premises solutions.
Key customer drivers are security, agility, elasticity, resiliency, rapid deployment – networking platforms are the enablers for business/digital transformation.
SD-WAN is part of an ecosystem of products and services which create an end-to-end solution for AT&T’s customers. Rupesh says AT&T’s vision is to provide customers with an “edge to edge” solution, which involves five key focus areas coming together:
- First, the network underlay is the critical foundation; it’s the core network. It’s about matching transport technology like Wireless/5G, Ethernet, MPLS, and Internet to the site application performance and cost requirements. (site typing).
- Second, the network overlay is dynamic and application aware, providing application flow controls, like, SD-WAN.
- Third, on the edge is infrastructure virtualisation. This is becoming the default architecture going forward, such as AT&T FlexWare.
- Next is the cloud which is becoming increasingly hybrid across public and private environments requiring multiple ways to interconnect.
- And then, security. Rupesh made me laugh when he says that SD-WAN and security go together “like peanut butter and jelly!” But he’s right – security is top of mind for all businesses and AT&T Cybersecurity solutions create a virtually seamless and easy way to manage security across the entire portfolio.
These elements become the connective fabric enabling companies to move their data virtually seamlessly, reduce complexity, foster innovation, and deliver on the promise of digital transformation.
The primary value proposition of SD-WAN is to enable enterprises to intelligently connect with high security any site to any cloud at scale. The first-generation deployments were focused on delivery of agile WAN connectivity, increasing reach while decreasing operational complexity. Now, customers are expecting more – they want to use SD-WAN to deliver a range of IT services with high end-to-end security.
Key business benefits of an SD-WAN deployment include:
- Reduced network costs, as customers no longer need to rely on static, expensive, private links; and instead can use a combination of private and public links;
- Increased agility, as network policies can be centrally defined and applied to edge devices;
- Rapid deployment of branch sites, as the edge device comes with zero-touch orchestration that can be set up in minutes, and the branch can be operational using wireless links; and
- Application-aware routing feature of SD-WAN enables the customers’ network administrators to optimise cloud connectivity, as the edge device recognises traffic that can be sent directly to the cloud over internet links, versus that which is intra-network and can go over public or private links.
Challenges for CXOs
Businesses need to adopt highly efficient, high-performing networks to take advantage of the newest technology and bandwidth needs. Automation is a great example of this. As customers require more bandwidth, AT&T intends to provide more elegant solutions to take full advantage of more ubiquitous, high-speed broadband.
Additionally, while digital transformation is top of mind for businesses of all sizes and in every industry, dynamic SD-WAN is beginning to mature in the marketplace. Hybrid WAN designs will continue to be popular as customers begin their modernisation. A provider that has a history steeped in managed services is becoming increasingly essential.
Rupesh says that AT&T’s competitive portfolio, global reach, and ability to scale operations allow delivery of comprehensive solutions with a best-in-class managed experience. Whether customers are looking to control costs, enable greater network agility, or increase network security and reliability, they are literally supported “edge to edge”.
Customers are moving more applications into the cloud and with AT&T SD-WAN, they are experiencing the ultimate solution for cloud integration. They’re also seeking a universally available, highly resilient, and redundant network to realise the benefits of AT&T SD-WAN, which provides them with the ability to run their business and serve their customers virtually 24X7.
Rupesh says it’s an exciting time to be in SD-WAN and thinks the future looks bright. He’s also excited about the ability to provide enhanced security for end points and applying the intelligence to deliver the traffic as he describes a future of “self-healing autonomous networks.” All of which sounds magical to me.
For more on this click the link below for my full video interview with Rupech Chokshi.