India's Airtel acquires 25% in SD-WAN company Lavelle

India's second-largest service provider, Bharti Airtel, has acquired a 25% stake in Lavelle Networks, a Bengaluru-based company specializing in software-defined wide-area networks (SD-WAN).

"As part of its NaaS [Network as a Service] portfolio, Airtel will offer software defined connectivity solution from Lavelle Networks and co-create a host of innovations as part of its NaaS platform. This also aims to bring 'Made in India' products and solutions for enterprises by offering cutting edge technology and cost efficiencies,” says the press release issued by Airtel.

The deal is subject to regulatory approvals. Interestingly, Lavelle was earlier part of the Reliance Jio program for startups, JioGenNext.

The announcement comes close on the heels of Internet giant Google investing $1 billion in Airtel.

Business minded

Investment in Lavelle Networks is the latest in a series of initiatives taken by Airtel to sharpen its focus on the enterprise segment over the past few months.

It launched #5Gforbusiness to test business use cases of 5G. It has partnered with Capgemini to develop 5G use cases for Indian businesses, and tested Tata Consultancy Services' neural manufacturing suite on Airtel's 5G network.

The upcoming launch of 5G is one of the key reasons. Airtel is already serving more than one billion businesses, and wants to consolidate this position. Added to this, the pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation of Indian enterprises, and this has led to maturing of this market with demand for new concepts and technologies.

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Driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, Indian enterprises, particularly small and medium enterprises, are moving their operations to the cloud to take advantage of the growing digital ecosystem.

As a result, there is an increase in demand for software-defined solutions that are better able to serve cloud-based hybrid IT environments.

"Its [SD-WAN] market in India is expected to grow exponentially at a CAGR of 55% in 2022-2026. As per F&S End-User Survey 2021, about 62% of enterprises plan to deploy SD-WAN across their organization in the next one to two years. Some of the major drivers which would contribute to this phenomenal run include the need for seamless management of Hybrid Networks, faster deployment of new sites, and network cost-efficiency," says Apalak Ghosh, associate director and head of ICT at Frost & Sullivan South Asia.

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— Gagandeep Kaur, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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