Telstra launches ‘transformative’ SDN/NFV service

Telstra, using technology from Cisco, has launched a service based on software-defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) technology that will enable business and enterprise customers to set up bandwidth on demand between data centres, their own premises and into public cloud services, as well as provision virtual network appliances such as firewalls.

Launching the new service at CiscoLive! in Melbourne, Telstra CTO, Vish Nandlall said it was “a huge and significant milestone in Telstra’s history,” that “marks the transformation of Telstra from being a simple carrier into a work class agile telco technology company.”

“What we are doing here with Telstra is the first of its kind, globally,” said Kit Beall, vice-president of cloud and business services in Cisco’s Global Service Provider business.

The first product, Internet Virtual Private Network (Internet VPN), aimed at small and medium businesses and available later this month, will enable businesses to connect multiple sites and mobile workers to office networks, with secure encrypted links over the public Internet, “with just a few clicks in Telstra’s online portal,” Telstra says.

However, any location at which the service will be required will need to wait for the delivery of CPE, which Telstra says should take “a couple of days.”

The second product, available now in beta, is Cloud Gateway Protection, billed as a “virtual security appliance that can be deployed and configured within minutes in the cloud to protect internet access, cloud services and Next IP networks from malicious attacks and unauthorised access.”

The third SDN product, available later this year, will be Data Centre Interconnect.

This will extend Telstra’s existing SDN product, PEN, acquired when it bought Pacnet in 2015, that presently offers on-demand connectivity between 26 points of presence across the Asia Pacific region, Europe and North America and connections into public cloud services data centres in Asia.

Connection will be available to an additional 10 points of presence in Australia.

Telstra says businesses will be able to “instantly set up point-to-point links between domestic and global data centres, configure them on-the-fly and choose from a variety of pay-as-you-go, flexible contract terms, all from the same portal.”

Nandlall said: “This [connectivity] will be through point to point Layer 2 Ethernet circuits from 1Mbps to 10Gbps … and with different class of services in terms of latency, from very low latency to best effort.”

Jim Fagan, head of the cloud practice at Telstra, said the Telstra service differed from SDN/NFV functionality provided by data centre operator Equinix and by Megaport in that Telstra allowed customers to connect to their cloud of choice and direct to other customers.

“The fact that we own the underlying core network enables us to add a lot more features and functions and continue to build on the core platform,” Fagan said.

Telstra said the over-arching platform supporting the service would become “Telstra’s central marketplace for virtualised managed services.” (“Clearly we did not let the marketing team name that,” Nandlall quipped.)

Plans for the service were unveiled at Mobile World Congress in 2015 when Telstra and Cisco announced their intention to give Telstra’s domestic and global business customers “a unified, on-demand suite of cloud and managed network services.”

Kelly Ahuja, senior-vice president of Cisco's Service Provider Business, Products, and Solutions, said at the time that the services would be built on Cisco’s Evolved Services Platform (ESP), a virtualisation and orchestration software platform that “creates, automates and provisions services in real time across compute, storage and network functions.”

Stuart Corner travelled to Cisco Live as a guest of Cisco.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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