Security issues are a top priority for Edgewater Networks. 2014 was littered with major security breaches for many large organizations, and as Edgewater Networks looks to a 2015 filled with new service deployments, a robust security police is needed, says Mike Reiman, director of software solutions. In this special featured interview, we also learn what we can expect to see from Edgewater Networks in the near future in the software-defined networking (SDN) and unified communications (UC) space.
SDxCentral: What excites you most about the voice and video services market today? What have been the major trends?
Reiman: Convergence. After 22 years in the industry, it’s finally happening. I started hearing about voice/video convergence in the late 1990s, with the idea of bringing video to the desktop. In reality, it took about a decade to achieve that goal in the industry. Voice support using IP networks and the Internet as a transport vehicle was driven primarily by service providers that had a vision and a business model along with the technology and cheaper last-mile Internet costing models to make a service successful.
Video got left out of this model and is now being driven by the saturation of mobility, the greater demand for remote workers, global distribution and a pure need for face-to-face communications.
Are you seeing the need for converged platforms? And do you think voice service is a viable driver to push existing CPEs into a new generation of CPEs?
Reiman: Yes, buzzwords that stick seem to change customers’ outlook or vision of viable services. Cloud — we’ve all heard the word — used to be called “Hosted Services.” It has similar concepts since the intelligence is not on premises. Small-to-medium enterprises and startup companies typically do not have the on-site IT staff for extensive premises-based routing and security, or they don’t want to spend the money for this highly skilled resource.
Cloud or SDN/NFV allows an SME customer to deploy a security model service for both voice and video much cheaper than spending capex on sophisticated equipment and hiring the on-site support staff to achieve these user- or business-driven services.
What’s the role of the cloud platform in these new deployments?
Reiman: 1) To provide a complete security and feature solution comparable to what a business today can support with on-premises equipment. 2) Voice, video, and data services in the cloud with an MRC that makes sense to customers. 3) Deployablity, the ability for a customer to move locations and turn up services quickly or add a new site easily by simply deploying a new child site on the tenant and pushing the new site’s security policy to the deployed on-premises router/SBC.
It also has a zero-touch install, eliminating the number of truck rolls (and related high costs) to get the functionality up and running.
What do you see in the new services architecture? Aside from voice, what other services should we expect?
Reiman: Security, first and foremost. SDN service architecture must provide full policy-driven security, IDS, malware, and all data services that are common with on-premises firewall/NAT today. Voice and video support must also be supported for a full service delivery platform.
What are the benefits with this new architecture?
Reiman: There are many on both sides. The service provider achieves a converged platform for service delivery that customers demand. SLAs can be supported by the full orientation of the service provider footprint, allowing the provider to reduce service cost and provide a single architecture platform for quick issue isolation to keep the customer’s service running.
TDM Telephony providers purchased complex and expensive switches. Once these switches were deployed and turned up, the provider delivered stable, feature-rich telephony services for years to capitalize on their investment. SDN/NFV offers the same style of scalability and stability for flexible service delivery that today’s telephony or unified communication (UC) customers are demanding.
For the customer, they receive secure service delivery, scalability, portability, all with added UC features the business market is moving to. IP service delivery today is much more than just and Internet connection — security is a top priority. In 2014, security was a highly visible and talked about component. 2014 taught us that no matter what certifications a device has, there is the potential for a security breach. The target can be actual data theft, like Home Depot or Target, or user credential theft.
These security issues in the industry have costs, specifically with premises-based solutions, patches, testing, and security worries by all users onsite. Cloud-based architectures provide a single place to patch all potential security issues as they arise in the industry. Proactive communications on this service architecture allow customers to know the provider is responsible for securing their network from potential security breaches. This saves customers time and money knowing the provider is actively monitoring for security issues and working on patching any server platform necessary to solve the issue.
How will the revenue opportunities change for SPs with this new architecture?
Reiman: As discussed above, this scales past voice and allows the service provider to offer UC-based services for voice and video. Customers want advanced solutions. That is very clear by just looking into the SBC market and services these premises-based devices provide today. It’s up to the service provider to leverage the SDN architecture to drive for UC feature sets for service delivery and capitalize on advanced UC services.
Who stands to benefit most from this new approach? Large enterprises, SMBs?
Reiman: The entire industry benefits. SDN services architecture benefits the end customer, large or SMBs, financially by having a “cloud” service to support their business requirements without a large IT security support staff investment. A big benefit is the security and peace of mind knowing the service provider is monitoring new industry security issues and alerting the customer about them.
The service provider has a complete platform for service delivery to maintain as one system, versus having individual manufacturers’ equipment to support service delivery.
Manufacturers today are already moving to a software virtualization model, which plays in nicely to an app-driven SDN architecture for new UC service support as the industry grows. SDN APIs are critical for the industry to allow manufacturers to build apps to solve new customer IP application demand as it arises.
What questions remain unanswered on this approach? Are we seeing production deployments yet? What’s Edgewater’s role in this transition?
Reiman: There are a lot of organizations out there developing SDN and NFV platforms, but the entire market is still developing. Definitions are still being formulated and there is no governing body. Just as with any new market, there will be a lot of entrants in the beginning. The interesting thing will be to see how the market continues to evolve, what actual applications will take root with organizations seeking an answer that SDN can provide, and what sub-markets will develop.
Edgewater Networks has a place in the market and we’ve been in development for about a year now. Ours is a hybrid between an on-premises deployment and a cloud solution, bringing the best of both worlds together so that customers maximize their investments. It is designed to be very adaptable to customer needs, as well as remaining vendor and device agnostic. It will work within existing networks, so there is no need to rip and replace existing infrastructure.
What can we expect from Edgewater in the next 12 months?
Reiman: It’s an exciting time for Edgewater Networks. In the next 12 months, you’ll see us increase and expand our footprint as a player in the unified communications market. Expect to see our virtual enterprise session border controller out on the market. It’s a true extension of the unified communications segment that we’ve been so strong in. We already have the technology and capabilities to service that market, but with the added value of integrating all our accumulated knowledge into the development of EdgeFlow (our SDN/NFV platform), we’ll be able to meet the needs of a broader range of customers. The flexibility, ease of use, and easy deployment reputation we have with our existing line of enterprise session border controllers will translate well to this market.