Software defines tomorrow’s smart, responsive, endlessly elastic networks

Johannesburg, 8 June 2017 - Internet Solutions, the leading pan-African telecommunications services provider, has launched CloudWAN - its first virtual Wide Area Network (WAN) solution for next-generation enterprise networking.

Using software-defined networking (SDN) technology and network function virtualisation, CloudWAN links public and private clouds into a seamless virtual network that is smart, responsive, and endlessly elastic.

By delivering cloud-based, centralised network provision and management, CloudWAN overcomes the biggest drawbacks of legacy network technologies.

“Enterprises usually invest in private network services based on MPLS, which has been an industry standard for decades,” says Greg Montjoie Walt, Head of Internet Access/SDN at Internet Solutions, “but data traffic and network complexity between business sites is more and more substantial.”

“As multitudes of devices in numerous sites are added to an enterprise WAN, existing network technologies are increasingly restrictive, prohibitively expensive, and can no longer guarantee quick and reliable network connections.”

Unified virtual network

Enterprise WANs today require network hardware such as hubs, routers, switches, proxy servers and firewalls, as well as network architects and engineers to install, then connect, configure, and test the hardware manually.

CloudWAN turns an enterprise network into a programmable entity for traditional network device deployment and upgrades, simplifying management and automating control of the network. By giving the network cloud-like adaptability and elasticity, each enterprise will have a network for its exact needs – perfectly customised, whatever the bandwidth or geographic demand.

Extensible network functions

When an already-complex network requires additional capability, instead of investing in additional equipment, cumbersome installation, and costly support, CloudWAN virtualises network functions such as firewalls or WAN accelerators.

“Software-defined networking is leading to open communication protocols and APIs that are device-agnostic but still offer the same security, reliability and resiliency of vendor-proprietary hardware and appliances. This will lead to significant cost-savings for enterprises as they scale their networks,” says Walt.

Using CloudWAN, deploying virtualised functions onto the core virtual network is fast, and there is central control of setup and configuration.

Network applications and services

“Today’s networks are strained by the business demand for more bandwidth, more optimisation, more dynamism, and more value,” says Walt.

“CloudWAN responds to this demand by enabling enterprises to use its optimisable features when there is a need to deliver applications to users on the network or to increase bandwidth.”

For example, when an additional site such as a new warehouse, branch or outlet needs to be added to an enterprise network, the configurations and appropriate application rule sets are instantly deployed to that site. The configuration profiles are pre-set according to the client’s grouping structure.

“Traditional networks are bottlenecks that hamper business growth, but we’re well on the way to changing that,” says Walt. “I anticipate that software-defined networking will disrupt business ICT as dramatically as the cloud did.”

CloudWAN was developed through a close partnership between Japanese telecommunications giant NTT, the NTT Innovation Institute Inc. (NTT i³), a prominent Silicon Valley innovation centre for the NTT Group, and Internet Solutions.

“Together with NTT i3, we have built a software-defined networking solution that is engineered to our clients’ current needs and our open standards approach to SDN, with an eye on our vision of the future enterprise,” says Saki Missaikos, Managing Director of Internet Solutions.

Missaikos believes that software-defined networks are the building blocks of cloud-integrated networks, where cloud service and network are merged, rather than linked together.

“By uncoupling the network from its physical confines, like data storage has been with the invention of cloud services, the enterprise can adapt and expand in response to market and customer needs with more agility than ever before,” he says.

“As we take our first steps towards cloud-integrated networks, solutions like CloudWAN enable our clients to use their networks and the Internet as intelligent business catalysts, rather than just a data carrier systems.”

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