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NTT Claims Largest SD-WAN Footprint

Carol Wilson

NTT was early to the software-defined networking party and now is claiming to have the first 100% software-defined global network, as well as the world's largest SD-WAN service footprint, reaching 196 countries. Its latest moves up the ante in an increasingly competitive market for multinational enterprise business.

Building on its own internal developments and the SDN capabilities it acquired in buying Virtela, NTT Communications Corp. is now offering its enterprise customers a range of SD-WAN options, including premises-based and cloud-based, and supporting gear from more than ten different SD-WAN vendors, Karim Eljai, senior director of NTT Com's global enterprise network business unit, tells Light Reading in an interview. NTT's global platform now includes 75 cloud centers, connected by its SDN. (See NTT Takes SD-WAN Footprint to 190 Countries.)

As part of the SD-WAN offering, NTT is including real-time streaming network analytics and multiple security options, including premises-based firewalls and cloud-based options. And it is promising to work with local ISPs chosen by its enterprise customers as part of the managed solution NTT delivers.

"It's all about giving clients a choice and the best possible solution at every branch office," Eljai says.

Because this is a managed service, NTT will help customers determine what that solution is, including which SD-WAN vendor to use, depending on their needs -- for example, whether they are more concerned with security or WAN optimization, he adds. Because it is still early days for SD-WAN, some clients have explored vendor options but some have not and are eager for NTT's expertise in that area, he says.

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NTT is packaging other capabilities with this service that the carrier thinks will differentiate its SD-WAN offering for more than just its footprint. On the security side, for instance, customers can choose to locate firewalls on premises, but many are looking at the cost and complexity of that approach, Eljai says. NTT is offering a cloud-based security offering that uses Secure Web Gateways, located within its cloud centers, and providing URL filtering, firewall protection and intrusion protection, as well as application acceleration.

"We are able to give them a reporting service to tell them exactly which machines have malware," Eljai says. That enables a more targeted fix.

The real-time streaming network analytics, which update every 60 seconds, offer "deep insight as to how the network is behaving with the ability to drill down site-by-site, application-by-application down to the IP address level, looking at what apps are doing in real time," he adds. That enables CIOs and network administrators to immediately identify the cause of network slowdowns or performance issues. The service also allows enterprises to essentially rewind the performance reporting to go back in time up to 30 days and determine what was happening in the network when particular applications faced problems.

"Say a CIO is getting complaints that the finance team can't access the resources they need to, or that video conference quality is getting choppy," Eljai says. Rather than having to guess what was happening in the network at that time, NTT can pinpoint issues down to a specific IP address -- that employee streaming YouTube videos, no doubt -- and remedy the issue. The replay functionality "application performance, network security, utilization, and end-user experience" can all be determined, according to NTT, so problems can be analyzed at multiple levels.

NTT also supports a broad range of connectivity options from basic Internet access to MPLS, including wireless, so customers can mix and match the connectivity based on options available at specific branches.

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

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