BT Caters to Enterprises that Want Cisco in Their VNF Plans

BT is extending its long-running partnership with Cisco to support BT enterprise customers that want Cisco hardware and software in their networking future. London-based BT will provide Cisco’s Enterprise Network Compute System (ENCS) hardware and Cisco Network Services Orchestrator (NSO) software.

Cisco describes ENCS as “branch compute optimized for enterprise NFV.” And Cisco NSO is the company’s network virtualization software.

The combination of ENCS and NSO, along with BT’s own technology and support, will allow large enterprises to deploy virtual network functions (VNFs) such as routing, acceleration, and security across their global footprints.

“This is about the edge devices and the platform on which you orchestrate and operate and manage the network functions that run on those edge devices,” said Neil Sutton, vice president of strategy and global alliances, with BT. “We have a lot of large multinational corporations around the world that have a lot of Cisco equipment. They’re looking at [deciding] what’s the hardware platform they run in the future.”

Sutton said the Cisco ENCS box is suited for midsize to large sites. The network functions virtualization (NFV) platform gives customers the flexibility to deploy new functions, when desired, without having to deploy new devices. These functions will be deployed and managed remotely without the need for a truck-roll. As a BT-managed service, it will also support VNFs from multiple vendors.


Sometimes, software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) is run as a VNF on various types of white box or proprietary hardware. Sutton said that theoretically the Cisco hardware could, in the future, provide the platform to run SD-WAN. But SD-WAN is not a function being initially offered on this platform.

About a year ago, BT announced that it had selected Nokia’s Nuage to provide SD-WAN for BT customers.

“All these SD-WAN and VNF solutions fit slightly different use cases,” said Sutton. “Today, we have a large percentage of large corporate customers that wish to maintain a Cisco environment. But there are those questioning whether Cisco is key to their future. Our strategy is to solve for key use cases that multinationals have.”