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GCI Takes SD-WAN to Pacific Northwest

Kelsey Kusterer Ziser

Communications and digital service provider GCI is deploying a new SD-WAN platform, CloudFlex SD-WAN, which is now available to its 14,000 business customers in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.

John Barnhardt, VP of business product development for GCI, says the SD-WAN platform will provide customers with prioritization of network traffic and applications; integrated security; peering to cloud service providers including Amazon, AWS, Azure and Google; and can be utilized in conjunction with MPLS and public Internet connections. Barnhardt says General Communication Inc. (GCI) (Nasdaq: GNCMA) is deploying the SD-WAN service both to meet the managed service needs of its business customers and as part of an internal transition from a legacy to a digital service provider. (See GCI Launches CloudFlex SD-WAN as a Managed Service .)

"Like most telecom operators or communication service providers, we're right in the middle of a fairly significant transition or disruption in terms of needing to become much more flexible and responsive in the way we deliver services to the market," says Barnhardt.

GCI has a long-standing partnership with Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) for much of the operator's core infrastructure and is working with the vendor on the CloudFlex SD-WAN platform. GCI and Juniper co-developed and customized Juniper's SD-WAN edge devices deployed at customers' premises for the CloudFlex SD-WAN service, explains Barnhardt. The platform includes integrated security with a Juniper firewall; while the built-in security is comprehensive, customers with significant additional security requirements can select a Palo Alto or additional Juniper overlay, he adds.

"We've taken the Juniper core technology, done some customization of the customer premise device, and we're deploying a highly-capable device that out of the gate can provide SD-WAN service but has the capacity to natively host a number of additional virtualized services on the same box. We have a lot of ability to be responsive to customer's needs and turn up additional services."

Barnhardt says customers can choose to add additional firewalls, unified threat management services traffic acceleration and on-premise remote monitoring and management services, for example.

Learn how to tackle the challenge of wide-scale SD-WAN rollouts at the fifth-annual Big Communications Event in Austin, May 14-16. The event is free for communications service providers!

CloudFlex SD-WAN also includes the GCI Hub, a digital dashboard for customers to monitor managed services provided by GCI. The portal provides ticketing systems, site status, visibility into SD-WAN performance and application routing; GCI will also continue to develop the analytics capabilities available in the customer interface, adds Barnhardt.

GCI provides managed services to business customers ranging from small to large global enterprises, predominately in the education, healthcare and oil and gas industries. Barnhardt says the "sweet spot" for GCI's SD-WAN platform is mid-market, multi-site businesses with anywhere from ten to 1,000 employees.

— Kelsey Kusterer Ziser, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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