& cplSiteName &

CenturyLink: Hybrid SD-WANs Ain't No Picnic

Carol Wilson
7/25/2017
100%
0%

CenturyLink today is rolling out managed service bundles targeting businesses that want to add SD-WAN options to their existing private Internet links and run services appropriately across both. The service promises to eliminate complexity for customers, and its introduction is a further indication of how service providers are using software-defined WAN technology to create differentiated offerings. (See CenturyLink Unveils Managed Hybrid SD-WAN.)

While SD-WAN services are a hot topic right now -- and have been part of CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL)'s portfolio for a year -- most businesses aren't using them to replace their private MPLS-based links, but instead as a lower-cost option for some traffic or for diversity and backup purposes, Troy Trenchard, vice president of product management with CenturyLink tells Light Reading in an interview. Managing traffic and implementing policy in such a hybrid approach introduces complexity that many businesses don't want, however, and that's why CenturyLink is offering managed services bundles. (See CenturyLink: SD-WAN No Quick Fix and CenturyLink: Let's Get Past SD-WAN Hype.)

"When you have a single MPLS connection and I want to put in another different type of connection as backup or less-expensive bandwidth, etc., you have to know how to reconfigure those connections together to get the policy you want," Trenchard says. "Which traffic goes over which link by default, [and] under what conditions -- delay, jitter, latency, etc., -- do I want to shift where the traffic is going? If and when one of my links go down, what is the policy to re-prioritize traffic over the single remaining link until the other link comes back up? Things like that. Getting from a single link where the decision is really just a QoS solution to kind of a load-balanced approach in different and varying bandwidth scenarios, that's work."

Different Kind of Hybrid
CenturyLink's modern building in Salt Lake City alongside historic church
CenturyLink's modern building in Salt Lake City alongside historic church

The other aspect of most conversations with potential SD-WAN customers is about eliminating the hair-pinning of Internet traffic that is common in today's private MPLS connections, he adds. With more data flowing between the enterprise and the cloud -- and not between enterprise sites -- the changing traffic flow makes an SD-WAN option for Internet traffic much more appealing.

These are issues with which other service providers are also grappling, and developing their own SD-WAN service packages. Trenchard thinks CenturyLink is early to the managed services bundle aspect of this market.


Get real-world answers to virtualization challenges from industry leaders, including new developments in the SD-WAN space. Join us for the NFV & Carrier SDN event in Denver. Register now for this exclusive opportunity to learn from and network with industry experts – communications service providers get in free!


Within SD-WAN managed services, CenturyLink will include its own network connections, but will also bundle aggregated services from other operators for diversity purposes. Backup options for businesses can include wireless services, although there isn't currently a managed service bundle for wireless in CenturyLink's portfolio.

In the year since CenturyLink launched its SD-WAN services, using Versa Networks' technology, the company has learned a lot, and it still expects to see the service evolve given that most businesses are early in the process of adopting SD-WAN, Trenchard says. The considerable interest in hybrid approaches was one surprise, and led to a series of proofs-of-concept with customers that, in turn, led to the choice to offer managed services bundles, making it simpler to adopt a hybrid approach.

CenturyLink is now working to expand geographic availability of its managed hybrid SD-WAN services, which still use Versa. Alongside that, CenturyLink has also included the Cisco Meraki solution as part of its managed enterprise portfolio, which Trenchard says is aimed primarily at the mid-market space, where customers wanted a fully integrated solution with low-maintenance requirements.

The CenturyLink executive does not rule out using other vendors' SD-WAN technology, saying he and his team are constantly following what is going on in the industry.

"This is an evolving market both in terms of the technology and the vendors, but also the use cases," Trenchard comments. "We are paying a lot of attention to what is happening in the market and what we are learning from our current engagements."

— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading


CALLING ALL CLOUD, NFV AND SDN COMPANIES:
Make sure your company and services are listed free of charge at Virtuapedia, the comprehensive set of searchable databases covering the companies, products, industry organizations and people that are directly involved in defining and shaping the virtualization industry.


(1)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
mendyk
50%
50%
mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
7/25/2017 | 5:05:22 PM
Picnic? Who said work was a picnic?
Even a picnic has ants, gnats, and other annoyances. Yes, network renovation is hard -- really hard. But if it were easy, then the bots could do it without any help.
Featured Video
From The Founder
Light Reading founder Steve Saunders grills Cisco's Roland Acra on how he's bringing automation to life inside the data center.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
March 20-22, 2018, Denver Marriott Tech Center
March 22, 2018, Denver, Colorado | Denver Marriott Tech Center
March 28, 2018, Kansas City Convention Center
April 4, 2018, The Westin Dallas Downtown, Dallas
April 9, 2018, Las Vegas Convention Center
May 14-16, 2018, Austin Convention Center
May 14, 2018, Brazos Hall, Austin, Texas
September 24-26, 2018, Westin Westminster, Denver
October 9, 2018, The Westin Times Square, New York
October 23, 2018, Georgia World Congress Centre, Atlanta, GA
November 8, 2018, The Montcalm by Marble Arch, London
November 15, 2018, The Westin Times Square, New York
December 4-6, 2018, Lisbon, Portugal
All Upcoming Live Events
Hot Topics
Federal Funds for Broadband? Unlikely
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 2/12/2018
Has Europe Switched to a Fiber Diet? Not Yet...
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, 2/15/2018
Will China React to Latest US Huawei, ZTE Slapdown?
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, 2/16/2018
Net Neutrality: States' Rights vs. the FCC
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 2/13/2018
IBM, Microsoft Duke It Out Over Chief Diversity Hire
Sarah Thomas, Director, Women in Comms, 2/15/2018
Animals with Phones
Live Digital Audio

A CSP's digital transformation involves so much more than technology. Crucial – and often most challenging – is the cultural transformation that goes along with it. As Sigma's Chief Technology Officer, Catherine Michel has extensive experience with technology as she leads the company's entire product portfolio and strategy. But she's also no stranger to merging technology and culture, having taken a company — Tribold — from inception to acquisition (by Sigma in 2013), and she continues to advise service providers on how to drive their own transformations. This impressive female leader and vocal advocate for other women in the industry will join Women in Comms for a live radio show to discuss all things digital transformation, including the cultural transformation that goes along with it.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed