SDN Goes Down Under With Virtutel

Network automation and customer self-service are driving the Australian network wholesaler to SDN.

Mitch Wagner, Executive Editor, Light Reading

July 19, 2015

4 Min Read
SDN Goes Down Under With Virtutel

Australian network wholesaler Virtutel is looking to SDN functionality to automate its network and provide self-service capabilities to customers.

Virtutel provides wholesale private networking and voice services to competitive service providers and system integrators that in turn serve SMBs (from five to 50 staff), including multi-site locations scattered across Australia and New Zealand.

Virtutel, which currently generates annual revenues of AU$2.5 million (US$1.85 million), is expanding its voice services by providing interconnects to voice carriers. It relies on incumbent telcos to provide last-mile solutions via Ethernet to local PoPs in capital cities in Australia. It expanded into New Zealand in 2013, and launched this year in Singapore and Los Angeles -- the LA PoP primarily for customer interconnects into the US and Europe. (See Virtutel Deploys Brocade SDN-Enabled Routers, Switches.)

Virtutel's wholesale customers sell VPLS and VPN services, as well as Layer 2 services.

Figure 1: Virtutel's Network Source: Virtutel Source: Virtutel

Virtutel is investing AU$200,000 ($148,108) in its SDN conversion, which involves swapping out Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) kit for Brocade Communications Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: BRCD) technology in its core network, Virtutel Managing Director David Allen told Light Reading. Virtutel's existing Cisco equipment was limited in line speed capabilities and didn't offer the flexibility the operator needed in creating Virtual Leased Lines (VLLs).

"One of the big reasons we went with Brocade is [its] SDN capability. We plan to automate all our services. That plays a big part in our future plans," Allen says.

"We want to make it so our customers can make changes to the IP VPN on the fly -- make and change routes and change profiles," says the Virtutel man. "We will dynamically send all the configuration information [using] SDN so there is no manual provisioning required."

He adds: "It will cut down on the time we spend with our engineers to set up customer networks, especially as we expand our network to other locations internationally."

Automating service creation, providing self-service ordering to customers and reducing engineering time spent manually configuring equipment are among the most frequently cited benefits of SDN. These motivations are behind the adoption of SDN by carriers such as AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), Pacnet and NTT America Inc. (See AT&T Describes Next Steps for Network Virtualization, Verizon Outlines SDN Strategy, Equinix Unveils SDN Engine for Cloud, Pacnet Offers Transport SDN Services and NTT Shares Critical SDN Lessons.)

Virtutel considered Cisco as well as Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) for its network upgrade, but decided that Brocade's support was better for SDN as well as for Metro Ethernet capabilities. Brocade was also more competitively priced than its rivals and offers an easy upgrade path from its CER base routing platform to the more advanced MLX, Allen says. The vendor will also facilitate government-mandated connectivity to Australia's National Broadband Network. (See NBN Digs a Hole for Itself.)

Virtutel hopes its transition to SDN will help enable future expansion into Hong Kong, China and London.

Want to know more about SDN? Visit Light Reading's SDN technology content channel.

The Australian network provider has completed the transition in seven PoPs, with the remaining three -- Adelaide, Auckland and Canberra -- to be completed during the next two months. The upgrade has enabled Virtutel to increase the bandwidth on its links between PoP sites from 1 Gbit/s to a potential 10 Gbit/s, if and when it needs that extra capacity. "Not that we're going to that at the moment," Allen says.

While the core network upgrade move involves swapping out some Cisco kit, Virtutel hasn't abandoned the IP giant altogether. Cisco provides features that Brocade doesn't support, such as Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) termination of wireless services.

— Mitch Wagner, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profileFollow me on Facebook, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading. Got a tip about SDN or NFV? Send it to [email protected].

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About the Author(s)

Mitch Wagner

Executive Editor, Light Reading

San Diego-based Mitch Wagner is many things. As well as being "our guy" on the West Coast (of the US, not Scotland, or anywhere else with indifferent meteorological conditions), he's a husband (to his wife), dissatisfied Democrat, American (so he could be President some day), nonobservant Jew, and science fiction fan. Not necessarily in that order.

He's also one half of a special duo, along with Minnie, who is the co-habitor of the West Coast Bureau and Light Reading's primary chewer of sticks, though she is not the only one on the team who regularly munches on bark.

Wagner, whose previous positions include Editor-in-Chief at Internet Evolution and Executive Editor at InformationWeek, will be responsible for tracking and reporting on developments in Silicon Valley and other US West Coast hotspots of communications technology innovation.

Beats: Software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV), IP networking, and colored foods (such as 'green rice').

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