Software defined networking solutions in remote offices

sofware defined networkToday, software-defined network technologies (SDN) can be applied to many more situations than initially thought (i.e., data processing centers) and are being used in the field of WAN to bring, over and above virtualization, resource optimization, flexibility and dynamism to the connectivity services for customers.

This new technology, known as SD-WAN, allows the user to get rid of access resources and forget about complex configuration commands and interfaces in devices that are part of the network. The customer ends up with a virtual network over which he/she can intuitively control the monitoring and operation of the necessary applications/services.

SD-WAN is a very useful solution for remote offices that need an Internet connection, or want to be able to connect to their data center, despite network intelligence stopping at the access equipment (known as “Edges” in SD-WAN).

An office often requires to be able to connect to external networks, as well as to internal LAN and WLAN connectivity services. Given the way WLAN has evolved (offering safety, capacity and availability), many customers are going for wireless offices and limiting the use of cable access to communications equipment or local servers.

It is reasonable to expect the advantages of SD-WAN networks to go beyond the edge border and ensure the correct operation of the customer’s virtual network from the user terminal itself. To be able to do this, the intelligence and abstraction provided by an SD network must reach office switches and access points. Here is where we started thinking about an SD network for LAN and WLAN.

Up till now, the customer’s WAN and LAN/WLAN have always been treated as two separate networks. From a service point of view, there are many elements that validate this distinction:

·   WAN networks are sometimes unpredictable, while LAN/WLAN operation is often clearly delimited.

·   WAN networks become less safe as accesses grow more public, while LAN/WLAN is equipped with default security mechanisms (even at layer 2).

·   WAN networks have limited bandwidth, jitter, packet loss and latency problems, while in LAN/WLAN these aren’t so common.

Per this analysis, it may seem that the “SD” concept is not applicable to office LAN/WLAN networks. However, this is not the case; if most of the office traffic comes from/is sent outside, device configuration must be consistent with the services defined in the SD-WAN network.

In this type of environment, the customer’s virtual network and global service rest upon two different network administrators (WAN & LAN/WLAN). They use up more technical, material and human resources, which hinders troubleshooting operations, network deployment activities, etc. In short, the user has the disadvantage of working with duplicated processes.

Now the time has come to analyze whether the setup of a top layer service should be transparent to all access equipment (up to the user terminal). An embedded SD network (WAN+LAN+WLAN) would allow for service policies to be distributed in a more coherent manner, so a remote office and its components are treated as a single logical entity that can be easily deployed and replicated.

As always, Teldat strives to come up with innovative solutions. We believe that the impact caused by the deployment of SD solutions will transcend “WAN” access and incorporate all other connection technologies.

The Postman always rings twice

wifi for hotelsProviding a wireless LAN for guests and customers is mandatory in many economic sectors where various business interests are pursued. In hotels, wireless LAN has been established for a long time. Cafés and system catering try to encourage guests to stay longer by offering wireless LAN and thus increase sales.

However, a simple and open access point for wireless LAN is not suitable for commercial claims and does not meet the country-specific and legal needs. A modern wireless LAN for guests and customers should have a login page which appears automatically for registration and can also have advertising. There are numerous registration methods, such as simply confirming the terms and conditions, a ticket system that requires a fee or using social media, e. g. facebook or twitter. Nevertheless, all registration methods should limit the access to the wireless LAN for a certain time in order to prevent illegal permanent use.

In case one of the guests uses the wireless LAN for illegal downloads, the person who offers the Wi-Fi to guests and customers can be held liable in some countries. Therefore, a Hotspot solution should always provide the option to route the whole customer’s traffic to an Internet service provider.

Taking a closer look at the market, a wide range of Hotspot solutions is available. On the one hand, there are professional solutions for hotels which require corresponding hardware costs and complex installation. An IT specialist installs and starts the system on site and customizes it to the clients’ needs. On the other hand, there are systems based on access points from the consumer market and Cloud solutions. These systems are usually limited to one access point and are not extendable. Therefore, these products cannot provide a solution for chain stores with corresponding claims according to functionality and liability.

Large chains have further requirements for a perfect HotSpot solution. Apart from the necessary access point no further hardware should be needed and the Internet access router already in use should keep on operating. Furthermore, especially for large chains, it is important to choose an expandable system without difficulty to ensure radio coverage in the whole building. It is important to guarantee smooth roaming and thus allowing users to move freely within the building without any new login. Last but not least, the installation should be possible without any technical experts in order to keep the costs in each branch office low. Ideally, the required access point is sent simply by mail to the branch office and the branch manager connects the access point to a free Ethernet port of the Internet access router. The access point automatically registers to the central Cloud management system and receives its individual Hotspot configuration via a safe Internet connection.

Teldat as a manufacturer of access points and provider of wireless LAN solutions offers also Cloud solutions as described above.

 

There’s no need to look out of the train window anymore

renfeA few weeks ago Renfe (Spanish train operator) launched their onboard entertainment platform for high speed trains called PlayRenfe. They have taken onboard Wi-Fi for passengers a huge step further with this platform that allows travelers to connect to a fast train’s Wireless LAN, using their own devices; tablets, PC’s, or Smart phones. Once connected passengers can watch films, series, read books, listen to music or play games. A huge difference from just getting Wi-Fi to read your emails.

However, if one surfs the web, we can see that there are some other train operators across the globe who work along this line of building online entertainment platforms on a trains’ Wi-Fi to give passengers an added value service, which hugely differentiates a trip with this service or without. That’s why we can call this, developing a customer experience, to build client loyalty making sure they will want to repeat traveling with one specific company or mode of transport and not any other one.

So independently of the train operator, what can an onboard entertainment offer:

  • A list of films so you watch exactly the film or type of film you want to.
  • TV shows, if you don’t want to watch something as long as a film.
  • Live sports events. Never miss a sports event because you’re traveling or avoid having to rearrange a trip so you don’t miss, the event. I’m sure that’s happened to more than one of us.
  • Onboard online games. Being on the train’s platform, the cost saving in this case can be considerable, especially if the passenger is on roaming!
  • Internet calls. Now that we’ve previously mentioned roaming, an enormous added value that clients can have is being able to make Internet calls.

Apart from entertainment itself, the train operator can offer passengers on the platform many other aspects which their clients will value:

  • Online shopping. Especially purchasing articles or services closely related to a client’s trip or whatever is sold onboard.
  • Travel agency. Being able to buy touristic guides, or even get last minute hotels is a huge added value for traveling passengers.

Also, as far as hardware is concerned, these type of platforms permit the use of your own devices. Everyone prefers using their own device for ease, comfort and it makes everything so much quicker.

All the above mentioned issues, are all added value items focused towards the customer experience, but the train operator can also gain added value by having their customers connected. Via the use of online advertising and social media, certain information can be directed to specific passenger segments. 

However, achieving this customer experience is not just about designing and running an entertainment platform on a train. Although the entertainment platform is not a straight forward task, perhaps one of the most complex issues is setting up a solid communications platform to run everything on. Indeed, placing online communications on any vehicle is not easy, but if you consider a high speed train, the solution is somewhat more complex, due to speed, areas which need to covered (tunnels, remote terrain…) etc. So apart from setting up a Wi-Fi system according to high speed train requirements, Internet connectivity has to be kept constantly maintained on a train traveling at up to 300km/h.

However complex this may seem, it is totally possible and this has all been achieved as we saw at the beginning of the article and indeed Teldat participated in the communications of the Renfe project. Teldat is experienced in this field, both for train communication platforms and road vehicle communication platforms.

 

SD-WAN and security implications –Part 2

 

sd-wan securityIn my last blog, I wrote about the origins of SD-WAN and its benefits. However, these advantages are certainly not without their challengers and threats, which all interested companies should consider when analyzing the various options offered by the market.

From a security point of view, the main threats arising have to do with the use of unprotected residential broadband networks. Unlike what happened with traditional corporate WAN networks, where services such as MPLS created virtual private networks that were unreachable from the Internet, these residential broadband networks, connect SD-WAN branches directly to Internet.

Therefore, there are several additional security risks for SD-WAN networks versus MPLS networks.:

  • Firstly, traffic running over Internet is, by its very nature, unsafe. It requires encryption to avoid being inspected or even replaced by third parties.  All SD-WAN solutions currently on the market use VPN technologies to create an ‘overlay’ (virtual WAN net) over the physical network. However, not all VPN technologies are the same and these differences can be seen in the quality of authentication or encryption in proprietor VPN mechanisms.

We can also look at theTrack records of individual proprietor mechanisms and their benchmarks (SD-WAN is still a very new technology) to analyze robustness and scalability. These two factors have a significant impact on both launching and operating costs.

  • Secondly, and perhaps more importantly than the fact that our corporate traffic can be seen in the Internet, is having SD-WAN offering online access to corporate datacenters to anyone who can mimic a branch SD-WAN terminator. As most residential broadband Internet connections use dynamic IP (unknown a priori), SD-WAN solutions are designed to operate in this connectivity environment using dynamic IP addressing. Since all Internet lines are initially valid to connect to a corporate network, anyone who can simulate, or has an SD-WAN terminal can, in theory, connect to a main corporate net, with all the permissions and passwords of a legitimate user.  The greatest risk coming from SD-WAN is the consequences of an original SD-WAN terminal being stolen from an office (or remote point), potentially allowing said thief to access the corporate network.  This doesn’t happen in MPLS nets, as access to central systems requires using a particular WAN MPLS line per office. This means a budding MPLS router thief can’t access the network by connecting the router to any broadband network. Thus, SD-WAN solutions must be equipped with antitheft mechanisms for routers, which detect if they are used out of branch environments.

A threat requiring protection in this category is the reset button (found on most communication equipment), which restores factory settings and may be used by a hacker to connect an SD-WAN terminal to a central network from an unauthorized point, simulating an initial set up.

  • A third risk, closely linked to the above, is the secure installation of SD-WAN terminators in authorized locations. The intrinsic independence of SD-WAN with respect to the network provider/s makes the use of zero touch provisioning mechanisms (ZTP) commonplace and easy, as most SD-WAN solutions on the market come pre-equipped.  Remote SD-WAN terminators can be sent via ordinary mail for example, and be installed at the corresponding corporate offices by the staff (forestalling the need for specialized technical personnel and/or training). All that’s needed is to unpack the device and connect it to the existing routers and devices on the local office network (LAN) or LAN switch.

SD-WAN solutions must have security mechanisms at startup (or initial installation) at the branch office. Bidirectional safe authentication is needed to cover the remote SD-WAN terminator to the central point and back again. There are many different products aimed at resolving this risk and allowing ZTP. These include security tokens through USB, smartphone apps, emails or SMS with authentication credentials etc.  Said mutual authentication should, of course, be kept for successive connections, not just for the first (installation). Successive connections shouldn’t require additional ZTP. While human intervention is not necessary at the remote point, some type of manual validation is used, or specified (at the central point) and a SD-WAN terminator should at least save connection credentials for a certain length of time. And it’s at this point where antitheft mechanisms should come into play.

  • Another risk to corporate traffic is the security of communication protocols or mechanisms between a remote SD-WAN terminator and a central management system, or controller, and should be analyzed through SDN native terminology. Said communication channel must also be secure (it’s quite common, or at least possible, for a controller to reside in a public cloud, or management traffic to run over Internet). If you use a controller in a multi-tenant public cloud topology (i.e. shared), security behind reclaiming devices in an initial set up also deserves attention. At first glance, a remote SD-WAN terminator could belong to any customer sharing the public cloud. However, only the customer identified as legitimate should be able to claim it.

In my previous blog, I mentioned that SD-WAN could be used in traditional branch offices as well as in any corporate network worth connecting and gave M2M and transport as examples. Once again, the risks we’ve already looked at need not only to be analyzed but widened to cover the nuances of these out of office settings. Said sectors typically use 4G technology (requiring SIM cards) and so pose an additional security challenge (theft or the intentional blocking of SIMs).

SD-WAN is a promising technology that, despite not being fully developed, has been designed to help companies use Internet broadband networks safely. This brings a lot of corporate advantages when compared to the traditional use of MPLS networks. While risks from Internet use are inherent to SD-WAN, a great deal of work is being put into critical safety and design features.

SD-WAN and security implications – Part 1

SD-WANI have written an article on SD-WAN for Seguritecnia, an online and print magazine that is very present in the private security sector in Spain. In said article, I explained the concept of SD-WAN and the security implications associated to this technology (as befits a magazine that focuses on safety).
Given the enormous interest in SD-WAN, I decided to give our blog readers the opportunity of perusing the contents of said article. In addition, and since Teldat’s blog is available both in English and in Spanish, our Anglophone followers can also access the document. The content of this article has been divided into two blog entries. The first is an introduction to the SD-WAN concept and how it differs from more traditional WANs. Next week, in a new blog entry, I’ll be writing on topics relative to security over this communication channel. I hope both entries prove interesting!
Virtualization phenomena is fast reaching infrastructures and communication networks. After its astounding success in information technology, where it’s use has made systems to support social media and the general cloud phenomenon possible, virtualization is beginning to be applied to communication networks. The aim is to obtain the same advantages in availability, flexibility, dynamism and cost, given by information systems in datacenters and cloud, and apply these to the world of communications.
Within the scope of network virtualization, two technologies have grown strongly, despite not being fully developed as yet, and threaten to permanently change the panorama. These are SDN (software-designed networks) and NFV (network functions virtualization).
SDN appeared in datacenters, with the idea of applying virtualization advantages in a datacenter local network to interconnect server racks. While system virtualization allowed for virtual machines to be rapidly integrated in datacenter services, creating local networks that connected these virtual machines proved to be a far more tedious and error-prone process.
Today, SDN has left datacenters behind and reached WAN. This, in combination with some other data communication technologies, is now known as SD-WAN. The enormous interest this sparks is no coincidence, as it resolves many of the problems companies were finding when designing and operating their WAN networks (for instance, high costs or lack of dynamism when adapting to business requirements). SD-WAN abstracts the physical WAN transport network and creates a virtual internet over it, regardless of the number, type or ISP of each WAN connection in a branch office. In practical terms, you can use SD-WAN to increase or replace a corporate MPL network with one or various residential broadband links, such as ADSL, FTTH or 4G, operating in coordination with each other. Traffic distribution over the various links depends on business or application criteria (more so than conventional IP routing rules) and management and adaption is simpler and more dynamic than in traditional networks.
It’s true, while reading this article (and others), that SD-WAN certainly has a place in the corporate world, not only in traditional branch offices but in any corporate network worth connecting, office or not, even if it only has a single WAN access. Examples of this can be found in M2M (such as kiosks or standalone points) as well as in on-board communication systems for buses, armored vehicles, police cars, etc.
In the following week, I’ll be writing about security implications and what those concepts mean in SD-WAN.
In Teldat, we believe SD-WAN technology will revolutionize the field of corporate communications in the coming years and WAN will soon become “SD-WAN”.

How to “compile” a compiler

compiladorThe compiler is a key element in developing software as it translates instructions given in one programming language (somewhat close to natural language) into something a computer can understand: machine language, made up of ones and zeros, which, in turn, is another abstraction to encode different voltages for an electrical signal.

Despite its importance, and omnipresence, doubts may arise regarding its nature. What language is used to write a compiler? How do you compile a compiler? Can a C compiler be written in C? These three questions are closely inter-related making them impossible to answer individually and, regardless of appearances, are not the modern version of the chicken and the egg! Let’s see why.

What language is used to write a compiler

To answer this, we need to look back to the beginnings of computer science. It was in 1952 when Grace Hopper, one of the most influential contributors to informatics, wrote the first compiler: the A-0 system. She  (to whom we owe the Word bug from the famous Mark I anecdote) put together subroutines, used over the years, into machine language and on a tape associated to a numeric code. The A-0 system could translate mathematical symbolic codes to machine language, using said codes, by searching through the tape for the corresponding subroutines.

Although this corresponds more to the idea of a linker or loader, the A-0 system is considered to be the first ever compiler.  Initially, this was done manually: someone had to actually convert instructions, which existed in a language totally alien to a computer (such as mathematical symbols), into binary.

As computing evolved and became more and more complex, instructions were entered in an assembler and directly mapped to machine language instructions, to be directly executed by a processor.

How do you compile a compiler? Can a C compiler be written in C?

A very simple compiler can be written from an assembler and machine code. Once you have a software that is able to translate something into binary instructions, you can use the original compiler to write a more sophisticated one (then use a second further refined one to write a third and so on). This iterative process of making a tool from a simpler version is known as bootstrapping. The something could be instructions written in the same programming language the compiler uses, creating new self-hosting. Gcc, one of the most popular C compilers, was built using this technique.

That said, there are a great many languages available with their respective compilers, which allow us to skip the first step of using  the assembler and machine code.

The following figure shows a very simple example of bootstrapping.  Suppose we invent a new language called T. To compile it, we need to write a compiler in another language, C for example (Tcompiler_c.c). By using an existing C compiler to compile Tcompiler_c.c, we can generate an executable Tcompiler_c. Subsequently, we can write a new T compiler, this time however, using its own language (Tcompiler_t.t). As we already have a program capable of compiling this, Tcompiler_c, we can use it to gain a new compiler, compiled from its own source code. This final step can be repeated as often as required to produce an ever more powerful versión.

compiler

Compiler tools continue to evolve to this very day.  Codes, executed in processors, partly depend on them to achieve optimum performance and efficiency. Thus, the integrated use of compilers and their theoretical understanding, which lead to consistently enhanced quality embedded software, are a fundamental part of Teldat.

 

2.0 Onboard Communications

onboard communicationsTraditionally, the greatest limitations imposed on the field of onboard communications were directly related to the capacity of cellular networks; lack of coverage, insufficient bandwidth, etc.

Fortunately, over the last few years, these drawbacks have been overcome and, through the use of state-of-the-art cellular technology, mobile broadband is now available.

As a result, the latest onboard communication challenges are now focused on the management of large fleets of vehicles. 2.0 onboard communications are now being migrated from equipment, allowing onboard systems to communicate, towards a communications management solution, optimizing onboard service deployment and performance.

One of the most common problems affecting onboard communications is areas with little coverage, where the quality of communications is insufficient for onboard services to work. Consequently, a 2.0 onboard communication solution should consider using various telecommunication carriers and provide a dynamic and adaptive solution to guarantee basic service levels.

Such solutions would also optimize cost management by allowing automatic carrier changes in roaming areas that represent a higher cost and by simplifying the integration of a new data service from another carrier, thereby minimizing switching costs.  

Another challenge for the new onboard solutions is the deployment and maintenance of the thousands of vehicles that need communications. New management solutions should provide tools allowing deployment without highly qualified personnel in the field. Zero touch provisioning (ZTP) has become a fundamental tool to minimize field operations in this sense. However, a management suite should also simplify the integration of new services, which, in turn, simplify concept testing and deployment in fleets.

There are increasingly more services and applications for fleets, which entail different criticality levels and traffic consumption. Consequently, management of what services are available, and the associated maintenance costs, becomes more and more complex. An advanced communications solution should provide network visibility, analyzing what applications are available, the consumption of each and the service levels provided by them.

Finally, the evolution of SaaS services now allows you to globally select providers who best suit the needs of each fleet operator.  Moreover, these turn an initial investment (CAPEX) into maintenance costs (OPEX), simplifying the implementation of new ICT solutions in fleets. Therefore, 2.0 onboard communications should bear in mind there are different routing policies for different cloud services (HTTP traffic) and should apply the routing policies that best match a certain application now that traditional routing based on IP is no longer valid.

Teldat is working on 2.0 onboard communication solutions, providing a management suite that contemplates the simultaneous use of various mobile networks. Furthermore, said solution is apt for mass deployment and provides visibility regarding the route coverage per carrier and when it comes to data usage and the behavior of different onboard applications.

 

 

PRIME v1.4 is ready to improve Smart Grids

primePRIME (PoweRline Intelligent Metering Evolution) is a PLC (Power line communication) technology based on the ITU G.9904 specification. It uses OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing) technology to provide an efficient physical connectivity to elements that make up a smart grid, employing medium and low voltage power distribution networks that already exist.

PRIME technology has been developed by the PRIME Alliance and defined by ITU as an international standard.

PRIME version 1.4 (v1.4) represents an extension of version 1.3 (v.1.3). PRIME v1.4 includes PHY and MAC changes. Thanks to these modifications, a series of improvements (such as an increase in robustness, higher data transfer speeds, a bandwidth extension, more flexibility in band planning and IPv6 support for the convergence layer) have been introduced. Moreover, these developments are compatible with existing PRIME v1.3 devices.

The new version withstands broader frequency ranges, from the CENELEC-A band (lower than 95 kHz) up to 500 kHz. This means power networks around the world can make optimum use of PRIME technology. Increasing the bandwidth signal up to 500 kHz will likely provide high data transmission speeds (of up to 1 Mbps) to applications (for instance, on-board communications) and areas where these bandwidths are allowed (America and Asia).

PRIME v1.4 offers a reliable transmission mode. This helps improve the system’s performance when exposed to high energy impulsive noise, as well as when dealing with networks full of interference noise. Two new robust transmission modes are introduced: Robust DBPSK and Robust DQPSK. They add four repetitions of the OFDM symbol in the convolutional codifier, when compared to the existing PRIME v1.3.6. Message headers are now bigger and, together with longer preambles, allow for higher robustness when faced with impulsive noise. One of the characteristics that makes the PRIME robust mode unique is the number of repetitions at OFDM level, instead of at byte level (granting more time in the diversity domain).

Thanks to these improvements, PRIME v1.4 can be used in plenty of applications (and not only in those designed to measure power consumption using intelligent meters). This technology allows for connections to be established between IEC 61334-4-32, IPv4 and IPv6 devices. A few examples of where these applications are used include: medium-voltage scenarios, identification and mapping of the connection stage in intelligent meters, or remote control applications in low-voltage power lines.  

Adapting the PRIME MAC layer has been necessary to include these improvements. The changes made to the MAC layer make new developments compatible with previous PRIME versions. The main MAC-related feature stemming from this functionality (which derives from modifications in the physical layer) is the reduction of channel overloads. To achieve this, the size and flexibility of frames was increased and the number of control messages reduced.  

The addition of these new elements means that PRIME v1.4 devices have to be able to coexist with PRIME v1.3 devices in scenarios where both standards operate. The PRIME Alliance is committed to making any PRIME specification evolution compatible with previous versions of that same specification.

PRIME v1.4 has been designed so that it includes the latest state-of-the-art safety technologies. This is why it includes encryption mechanisms at the MAC level, allowing for data transfers to be carried out safely (even at the lowest protocol layers). Thanks to the two security profiles, the user gets optimum network safety and performance. PRIME uses an AES-COM of 128 bytes as an encrypted authentication method, as well as recognized standards for password generation, distribution and management.

PRIME v1.4 results from in-field experiences, gathered by devices whose design is based on previous PRIME versions.

All changes have been introduced after extensive data collection campaigns using devices that are already deployed and with the help of simulations. The latest technological alternatives have also been studied closely.

The PRIME specification has seen major revisions with the aim of improving the system’s performance. PRIME v1.4 can even be installed in networks with dire noise conditions.

Teldat PLC PRIME devices are ready to support PRIME v1.4 whenever the market and the power distribution companies ask for this technology to be deployed.

Wireless LAN in public transport in Northern Germany

transportSurfing the Internet and mailing – this shall be quickly and simply possible on busses and trams within a main city in northwestern Germany. Passengers in busses within this city will be offered fast and free Internet access.

The first vehicles will offer wireless LAN and pictograms will inform the customers that they can to get free Wi-Fi on the vehicles. The access shall be easy and without personalized registration. Moreover, the city is not providing Internet access only on busses, but also on their trams.

There are similar plans on a smaller scale for tram and bus fleets in other northern German cities, but what is very interesting is that some of the metropolis, apart from offering free Wi-Fi on busses and trams, offer at subway stations wireless LAN for free without any registration.    

What is clear is that this is only the beginning and for sure wireless LAN on public transportation will expand in the short and medium term. However, why is Wi-Fi on public transport so popular? Is it just access to Internet?

Answering the questions above, we can clearly say that  becomes more and more crucial in our daily life for many reasons, and not just for surfing the Internet. The possibilities for travelers once connected to the Wi-Fi who are spending considerable time on the bus, tram or train are endless. So obviously accessing web pages to read the news, connecting to social media or answering our emails is what comes to all of our minds first of all, but there is much more available. The transport companies can take an active role once Wi-Fi is installed and provide services for their travelers. Examples of services are many; TV services and other on-board entertainment, premium Wi-Fi services, online shopping, digital signage, foreign language services for tourists and more.  

So small wonder that public transportation companies try to attract new customers by offering Internet access. Free Wi-Fi will create a real added value for commuters in order to make them switch from car to public means which is an objective of many city transport authorities.

Teldat as a manufacturer of highly-reliable automotive telecommunication platforms, offers solutions which are certified and tailor-suited for the demanding environment of automotive projects. Moreover, we have just launched a specific website which explains from different perspectives, why Wi-Fi connectivity on transport vehicles is much more than just Internet access for travelers. 

No, we don’t have Wi-Fi, talk to each other… It’s worth it

sdwan summitThis may seem an odd title for a post by a communications equipment manufacturer whose portfolio includes a complete range of Wi-Fi products. But the truth is that the title refers to a photo that went viral of a bar sign advising customers to take advantage of the bar’s lack of connectivity and engage in good old conversation.

This is what we at Teldat were doing at the SD-WAN summit held in Paris last week where we participated as exhibitors alongside leading players (manufacturers, operators, customers and analysts) in this new technology field.

And what is clear is that, as the title says, talking (and especially listening to others) has been worthwhile to find out, in detail, the real level of development of SD-WAN technology, what it should really be offering today, and how it is perceived by operators and businesses. And the truth is that there isn’t much difference between what we have learned and what we thought.

The first conclusion we have reached, clearly stated in the keynote opening address at the conference, is that there is no single widely accepted clear definition of SD-WAN or what constitutes it. Apart from what we already know, that it is the application of software-defined concepts to the WAN (as the name suggests),nowhere is there any specific mention of the minimum characteristics or functionalities that a network must meet to be considered an SD-WAN. At least to date. As described in the keynote speech, a good SD-WAN solution will depend on the extent to which it fixes the network connectivity problems of the organization for which it is providing a service. And this is why all of the presenting manufacturers at the fair have good SD-WAN solutions. Some of them are from the security environment. Others come from acceleration. Others from routing, others are new companies with disruptive models. And each solution presented focuses on solving corporate communications problems and SD-WAN strategies differently, depending on the point of origin. And given that each company will have different needs, the best SD-WAN solution will come from the manufacturer whose strategy best suits a company’s specific needs.  Clearly, the concepts of visibility, control, automation, and provision are common to all manufacturers’ offers. But, as we already know, the devil is in the detail. And the differences in interpretation and development of these concepts is where the offers differ and where customers should start searching for the solution that best suits their requirements.  

The second conclusion is that, apart from technology, an important factor when evaluating the differences between the manufacturers presenting their SD-WAN strategies, has been their position on telcos. Statistics and analyst reports show a significant reduction in operators MPLS revenues and many manufacturers are building an SD-WAN strategy that bases its message to companies on being completely operator-independent, either by setting up a proprietary SD-WAN to get excellent (!) MPLS cost savings, or by setting up an over the top network, managed by third parties over operator infrastructure. Some manufacturers, however, see these two approaches as being a major operational risk that could shoot up the TCO of the infrastructure. Instead, they are opting for a carrier friendly strategy that includes the operator as a fundamental part of the solution. At the end of the day, SD-WAN technology offers significant advantages for telcos, and a combined MPLS and SD-WAN offer could potentially be very interesting for both carriers and businesses. Especially if we accept that no matter how much SD-WAN evolves, it will not mean the end of MPLS networks, at least in the medium term.

What we do agree upon, all those of us who talked, is that we are at the beginning of a technological change where there is much to be done.  Almost all large companies are starting projects in this direction, and it is true to say that the needs and requirements of each company are different, as are their business models. For this reason, success for the various manufacturers will not only be about the technological quality of their offer. Other factors relating to their go-to-market strategy (like flexibility, adaptability, financing and the scalability of their offers) will be almost as important as meeting supposed standards that don’t exist. And that is why Teldat is positioned as a leading player in this new field.

Would you like to talk to us? It will certainly be worth your while.