Charter Communications’ business arm, Spectrum Enterprise, is working with Nokia’s Nuage software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) technology. Spectrum is focusing its first efforts on an Ethernet use case for SD-WAN.
Satya Parimi, group vice president of data and cloud products with Spectrum Enterprise, told SDxCentral that Charter is the fourth largest Ethernet provider in the U.S. He said the company’s Ethernet customers are asking for SD-WAN to connect their various sites.
Spectrum is demonstrating an SD-WAN proof of concept at the MEF17 show in Orlando, Florida, this week. The demo shows the SD-WAN as an overlay over existing Ethernet sites, and then it shows how the overlay can also be extended to non-Ethernet sites.
“We can tie our existing Layer 2 Ethernet WAN locations to locations that may be served just with Internet connections by using SD-WAN,” said Parimi. He gave the example of an Ethernet customer with 10 existing sites who wants to add two new locations that are out of Spectrum’s footprint. “We can tie in those two locations using an Internet service and SD-WAN and stitch them into the Ethernet so it all looks like a Layer 2 Ethernet service,” he said.
For Spectrum’s Ethernet customers, this is a top use case of SD-WAN that they want. It stitches Layer 2 and Layer 3 locations, extending an Ethernet WAN. “That’s what we’re showing as our differentiation,” said Parimi. “Not a lot of others can do it.”
Spectrum will also provide the regular SD-WAN use case of overlaying various access connections. “With Nuage, we can build an SD-WAN over Internet, over our Ethernet, and over others’ in various combinations,” he said.
Spectrum is conducting field trials this quarter with Nuage’s SD-WAN along with Palo Alto’s security. It’s working with existing large enterprise customers with plans to offer a commercial product in 2018.
Parimi said Spectrum is looking at a number of SD-WAN use cases, but it’s not looking at MPLS. “Extending Ethernet WAN is a top use case,” he said. “We’re not demonstrating integration into MPLS because we don’t offer MPLS today. All our WAN services are Ethernet.”
Charter is only the second major cable company to announce SD-WAN. Comcast announced its SD-WAN play in May. Comcast also does not offer MPLS, and Kevin O’Toole, SVP of product management for Comcast Business, said, “Comcast always looks to the future. MPLS is a backward-facing investment. We’re not going to do that.”
Charter’s CEO Thomas Rutledge hinted at the company’s SD-WAN plans during the company’s third quarter earnings call with investors at the end of October.