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DT, Vodafone to Launch SDN-Based VPNs

DUSSELDORF -- SDN & Openflow World Congress -- Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone have both announced plans for a broad deployment of VPN services based on the use of SDN and NFV technologies.

German incumbent Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) said the VPN service it has been piloting in the markets of Croatia, Hungary and Slovakia as part of its New IP transformation would soon be extended into other countries in the region.

"We are about to extend this service to a broader footprint as I speak," said Axel Clauberg -- Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT)'s vice president of aggregation, transport, IP and fixed access -- during a keynote session here on Tuesday morning, adding that Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Canonical are two of DT's key partners for the VPN service.

Speaking to Light Reading on the sidelines of the event, Clauberg would not be drawn on specific details about the timing of the new rollout but said that feedback from the current three-country pilot had been very positive.

Deutsche Telekom launched the VPN pilot at this year's Mobile World Congress in March and claims it has led to major benefits for customers. "The cloud-based production model allows customers to self-service and take control around the offer without going through a lengthy procurement and ordering process," Clauberg told conference attendees. (See Deutsche Telekom Turns On Pan-European IP.)

SDN and NFV play a critical role in the German operator's transition to all-IP networks, which will see all PSTN systems in Europe shut down by 2018.

Deutsche Telekom believes it can become a far more agile and efficient player by rationalizing its equipment and resources, supporting network operations and services across a number of markets from centralized European facilities.

Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) also made a strong commitment to SDN and NFV technologies at the same event, revealing it would introduce its own VPN service across a number of global markets in the near future.

"In the upcoming period we want to have application-ready networks and an SDN- and NFV-based VPN is the first service that will be launched," said David Amzallag, head of virtualization, SDN and NFV for Vodafone.

Like Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone appears eager to be able to support the same service across a number of different markets, simplifying its operations in the process.

"We have a lot of countries and operators and they have a large set of VPN products and services but we are determined to reach only single VPN product worldwide," said Amzallag. "SDN will take care of the connectivity aspects and NFV will support a lot of value-added services for customers."

Amzallag is similarly confident that Vodafone will be able make huge cuts to its operational expenses by taking advantage of SDN and NFV technologies.

Although he did not disclose further details about the timeframe for a launch or the markets in which the new VPN service would first appear, a source with knowledge of the project has indicated that Vodafone's targets are extremely ambitious.

"The timetable to launch the VPN service is insane," said an industry executive requesting anonymity.

"I don't know how they're going to do it [in the timeframe]," the source told Light Reading. "The NFV [team] is under big pressure from top management but then that's no different from all of NFV teams at the major Tier 1 operators."

Want to know more about the emerging SDN market? Check out our dedicated SDN content channel here on Light Reading.

French incumbent Orange (NYSE: FTE) appears to be a strong example of another major service provider that is coming under immense pressure in this area.

Speaking at the SDN Openflow World Congress later on Tuesday morning, Noël Foret, Orange's vice president of network control, urged vendors to stop "overselling" NFV and SDN.

"That is counterproductive," said Foret. "I have to demonstrate cost savings to my CFO and it may lead to a cut in investments as a consequence of overestimated savings."

Besides flagging the imminent launch of a new VPN service, Amzallag indicated that Vodafone is working on the development of a service orchestration platform that will be "100%-based" on SDN and NFV and involve a number of different suppliers. "This will be the starting point of Vodafone's future networks," he said.

As part of a related project, the operator is on the lookout for new partners that can help it with the design of SDN-based transport networks. "Relationships in this area are critical," said Amzallag, who said he wants Vodafone to work with startups as well as established suppliers.

— Iain Morris, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, News Editor, Light Reading

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