In the boldest step yet to bring NFV-based commercial services to market, NTT Communications Group unveiled cloud-based services today that enterprises can activate themselves and pay for on a per-use basis.
Built on the network functions virtualization (NFV) platform developed by Virtela, which NTT acquired in January, the services are also designed to be vendor independent and are globally available today in the 190-plus countries served by NTT. (See NTT Com Leverages SDN, NFV for Cloud Services.)
"We believe we are many years ahead of other service providers in this new NFV-enabled cloud networking services," Takashi Ooi, vice president of enterprise network services at NTT Communications Corp. (NYSE: NTT), said at a press conference today.
The plan builds on NTT's deployment of software-defined networking (SDN). More importantly, it capitalizes on the NFV platform developed by Virtela. (See Leading Lights Finalists 2014: Most Innovative Carrier Cloud Service and Virtela Takes Device Management to the Cloud.)
According to Ooi, the new services will be deployable on demand and in minutes by enterprises via an NTT Com portal, without requiring function-specific CPE, using an "asset-light" approach that uses a single programmable device at the customer premises.
Among the services that are part of the NFV-enabled, cloud-networking services are:
- Firewall, including intrusion prevention and URL filtering
- Application acceleration to optimize performance of IT apps over an IP-VPN
- IP-Sec-based VPN gateways to allow fast enterprise connections from the public cloud or any Internet-connected site
- Application acceleration of IT apps by distributing capabilities in the cloud, rather than requiring all satellite offices to connect to the headquarters
- Cloud-based SSL VPNs to make connecting remote workers or partners easy
"This is just the start of new services," Ooi said. "We will continue to add on new functions to the platform we already have on a continual basis. We can do that."
Billing is done per app and per user, sold either combined or a la carte.
Vab Goel, founder and chairman of Virtela and general partner at Norwest Venture Partners, acknowledged that this may appear to be a more dramatic change than it actually is, in terms of how likely enterprises are to constantly turn on and off services that once were sold by contract over long periods of time. Most Internet services will be turned up and left on all the time, he said, but any revenue lost by moving off of those lucrative contracts will be replaced by adding new customers who are more naturally loyal to a service they like.
"CIOs need a new model and a new architecture, so the service providers who adopt this new kind of a model can take away a lot of business from competitors," Goel said. "CIOs will like the flexibility, and if they like the service, they will never leave you."
Ooi said NTT will retain its commitment to quality and will still have "the DNA of a service provider." But the need for CIOs for new ways of running their IT departments requires this kind of dramatic transformation of services.
— Carol Wilson, Editor-at-Large, Light Reading