Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Are hybrid VPNs the future for customer networks?

A Total Telecom roundtable in conjunction with TalkTalk Business
Monday 20 June 16

Ian Watt, principal consultant, Ovum (moderator) Andrew Partridge, senior carrier account manager, TalkTalk Business Debbie Robinson, director, industry market development and alliance partners, T-Systems Mike Sapien, principal analyst, enterprise services, Ovum Peter Tomlinson, sales, marketing and product director, KCom James Walker, VP, managed network services, Tata Communications Ian Watt There are three basic approaches to creating IP-based VPNs: network-based, with the functionality in the provider's network; equipment-based; and application-based with the functionality provided through applications-specific software tunnels. Developments in technology infrastructure and customer demand raise the issue of the extent to which hybrid solutions, involving a combination of all of those three approaches, are likely to become the new norm as opposed to something that is the domain of bigger companies. There are a couple of ways to look at that: one is thinking about customer needs and one is thinking about trends in technology. What are your views on any of those? James Walker We try to start off with the customer need. Rather than saying the customer's requirement is a hybrid WAN or an SD-WAN, it's more interesting to look at the problem that the customer is actually trying to solve. Every customer is unique – they are all snowflakes – and they all need different levels of emphasis on different areas. Certain ones have a range of applications that are incredibly sensitive to underlying network performance, but the amount and quantity of traffic that that drives has a significant effect on the decision that is made in terms of the network. As a carrier, as soon as a customer makes a decision to buy something that runs entirely over the top of my network and potentially that of others – let's say an SD-WAN solution or even IPsec – my ability to add value is diminished because the customer's desire with an SD-WAN solution is to have less to do with the underlying carrier and to be able to manage their lives more efficiently without phoning me up. It doesn't make sense for me to grab that service again and provide it back to them as a managed service. So if I accept a world of overlay tunnels and that kind of environment then I accept a world where I am secondary or I am a component of many parts that go to make up the solution. My differentiation from a purely overlay service is that I’m providing infrastructure and I can relate the application behaviour to the infrastructure, whereas if you're an overlay you're an overlay. It's quite a difficult balance for telcos. We need to think about whether a customer tries to cut us out of the equation and we just become a dumb pipe or if we are actually providing a managed service and providing benefit to the customer in some way. Watt: One of the definitions of hybrid VPN is that they're provided by more than one provider; there's a sort of multi sourcing going on. Walker: It's something that BT, Tata, T-Systems have been doing for a long time. The customer says 'I don't want to have 200 telephone contracts, I just want to have one' and even though we then have to go out and buy stuff, we wrap all of it together and we take SLA risk, we aggregate it all and we take away the currency uncertainty. There is a valid use case for people who have very disparate networks and a relatively simple application set that it needs to run over them…

Ian Watt, principal consultant, Ovum (moderator) Andrew Partridge, senior carrier account manager, TalkTalk Business Debbie Robinson, director, industry market development and alliance partners, T-Systems Mike Sapien, principal analyst, enterprise services, Ovum Peter Tomlinson, sales, marketing and product director, KCom James Walker, VP, managed network services, Tata Communications Ian Watt There are three basic approaches to creating IP-based VPNs: network-based, with the functionality in the provider's network; equipment-based; and application-based with the functionality provided through applications-specific software tunnels. Developments in technology infrastructure and customer demand raise the issue of the extent to which hybrid solutions, involving a combination of all of those three approaches, are likely to become the new norm as opposed to something that is the domain of bigger companies. There are a couple of ways to look at that: one is thinking about customer needs and one is thinking about trends in technology. What are your views on any of those? James Walker We try to start off with the customer need. Rather than saying the customer's requirement is a hybrid WAN or an SD-WAN, it's more interesting to look at the problem that the customer is actually trying to solve. Every customer is unique – they are all snowflakes – and they all need different levels of emphasis on different areas. Certain ones have a range of applications that are incredibly sensitive to underlying network performance, but the amount and quantity of traffic that that drives has a significant effect on the decision that is made in terms of the network. As a carrier, as soon as a customer makes a decision to buy something that runs entirely over the top of my network and potentially that of others – let's say an SD-WAN solution or even IPsec – my ability to add value is diminished because the customer's desire with an SD-WAN solution is to have less to do with the underlying carrier and to be able to manage their lives more efficiently without phoning me up. It doesn't make sense for me to grab that service again and provide it back to them as a managed service. So if I accept a world of overlay tunnels and that kind of environment then I accept a world where I am secondary or I am a component of many parts that go to make up the solution. My differentiation from a purely overlay service is that I’m providing infrastructure and I can relate the application behaviour to the infrastructure, whereas if you're an overlay you're an overlay. It's quite a difficult balance for telcos. We need to think about whether a customer tries to cut us out of the equation and we just become a dumb pipe or if we are actually providing a managed service and providing benefit to the customer in some way. Watt: One of the definitions of hybrid VPN is that they're provided by more than one provider; there's a sort of multi sourcing going on. Walker: It's something that BT, Tata, T-Systems have been doing for a long time. The customer says 'I don't want to have 200 telephone contracts, I just want to have one' and even though we then have to go out and buy stuff, we wrap all of it together and we take SLA risk, we aggregate it all and we take away the currency uncertainty. There is a valid use case for people who have very disparate networks and a relatively simple application set that it needs to run over them…

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