VNFs (Virtual Network Functions)

Versa Adds RCN Business to Customer Roster

On the heels of announcing its first Tier 1 customer, CenturyLink, Versa Networks has announced that RCN Business, a competitive cable provider, is deploying its software-defined managed security and monitoring solutions to business customers already using its fiber-based services.

While CenturyLink is deploying Versa's SD-WAN and SD-Security solutions, RCN Telecom Services LLC is only deploying SD-Security -- a cloud-based security service that lets businesses manage and monitor network security, including providing firewalls, application and activity-based control of Internet access and network monitoring all the way down to application-level visibility. "The people that will get the service see the value in a cloud-based solution, rather than a solution that doesn't let them see all their traffic or an appliance-based solution," said RCN's VP of Network Services Peter Jacoby.

Both RCN and Versa Networks see the cost savings of a cloud-based security service as significant for business customers especially because there is no customer premises equipment required. "We didn't offer this solution specifically for our own cost savings, we offer it because we think it is the best way to do it as a customer," said Jacoby. "Of course, it allows us to be more agile and able to bring this type of product to the market faster, but what we are really interested in the capability this opens up for the customer. This type of service is totally additive -- we are not replacing a current managed security solution."

RCN already offers a managed router solution and a managed LAN solution, he noted. "Those have been really successful so this is a natural extension of what we are already doing."

With a traditional appliance-based security solution that includes customer premises equipment, enterprise customers not only have a capital expense of putting in a next-generation firewall but that is only a portion of the cost, says Mark Weiner, chief marketing officer at Versa. "You still have the ongoing support contract, which can be 15% to 20% of the initial capital cost depending on the vendor, but beyond that you have the challenge of having skilled technical staff to continually update and manage and tune the security hardware -- and by the way, make sure it interoperates with your router and other components in the branch as well."

According to Weiner, Versa's SD-Security solution offers a rich, next-generation firewall as a cloud-only service, which eliminates capex. Some other solutions require something on premises to deliver a firewall. (See Versa Networks' Kumar Mehta on SD-WAN Managed Services.)

RCN has done extensive testing with the service for more than a year and is ready to go, says Jacoby. "It's our hope that what used to take six weeks to ship a server or an appliance can take in the best case scenario a couple of hours or a day or two so we can turn this on for our customer pretty quickly."

As for adding on additional services like Versa's SD-WAN service in the future, Jacoby says today RCN is focused on managed security, but he adds, "We're very conscious of what Versa's platform can do. So as we see a market for additional virtual services, we absolutely would offer them to our customers if there was value to be had there."

— Elizabeth Miller Coyne, Managing Editor, Light Reading

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