We now have a better idea of why NTT Communications acquired Virtela Technology Services. It wasn’t just for scale; it was for the ability to offer the on-demand services that software-defined networking (SDN) has been promising.
In a press conference webcast from Japan at 1:00 a.m. (matching more reasonable times-of-day for North America and Europe), NTT claimed it’s the first service provider to offer cloud-based services that users can activate almost instantly.
Vendors and carriers alike have talked dreamily about on-demand services as an byproduct of SDN and network functions virtualization (NFV). Even if NTT isn’t the very first to offer on-demand services, it’s almost certainly the largest, as the services will be available in all 190 countries that NTT’s network reaches.
NTT/Virtela is “using an in-house NFV and SDN platform that includes the [in-house] controller” to provide these services, said Vab Goel, Virtela’s founder, during the press conference. He didn’t specify whether OpenFlow is involved.
SDN got some mention during the press conference, but NFV seems to have more of a star role in delivering these services. (Executives gave little detail as to how it’s all done.) The new services are made possible by the infusion of NFV in 50 cloud networking centers worldwide, said Takashi Ooi, NTT’s vice president of enterprise network services.
The on-demand services, being offered under NTT’s Arcstar Universal one brand name, include things like firewalls, WAN acceleration, and SSL and IPsec VPNs. Ooi seemed to indicate the services are available now, although the press release mentions July availability.
The services will be billed on a per-use basis, meaning no long-term contracts are required. Ooi and Goel played up this aspect, because it’s a different way of doing business (and one that enterprises have craved for some time, by the sound of it).
NTT announced the $525 million acquisition of Virtela, a provider of cloud-based managed services, in October and closed the deal in January. It’s one of a couple of recent deals that expand NTT’s presence in North America; the company also paid $350 million in February to take an 80 percent interest in Sacramento-based RagingWire Data Centers.