After teasing its launch for some time, Spectrum Enterprise finally released availability of a fully managed SD-WAN service in the U.S.
Spectrum Enterprise, which is the business arm of Charter Communications, first demonstrated an SD-WAN proof of concept at the MEF17 show in late 2017. At that time, it announced that it was working with Nokia’s Nuage Networks technology for the SD-WAN component and with Palo Alto Networks on the security component. It also said its primary use case for SD-WAN would be Ethernet.
According to Satya Parimi, group vice president of enterprise data products at Spectrum Enterprise, it “has been running market field trials for the last year to better understand enterprise needs and use cases for various WAN configurations for which SD-WAN would be a good fit.”
And at the same time, the group has been working to deploy a SDN/NFV edge compute platform, which delivers the managed SD-WAN, virtual security, and “soon a number of other products and services,” Parimi said.
Today, Spectrum launched the service, which integrates a number of third-party vendor’s components. Nuage remains the SD-WAN provider, but it relies on Fortinet for virtual security services, Netcracker for virtual network function (VNF) management, and Cisco for services orchestration.
Nuage was selected for the SD-WAN component as it offered capabilities for SD-WAN and Ethernet stitching, product flexibility with features, and fit into its SDN/NFV platform. The Fortinet virtual security service enables secure internet access with the managed service.
Additional features of the service include multiple connectivity bundles, application visibility and prioritization, and integration with Ethernet networks.
Parimi sees the SD-WAN market as still in its infancy and is fragmented with multiple use cases and configurations. He added that Spectrum’s field trials and discussions with enterprises “informed us on how we go to market and differentiate in a crowded marketplace.”
Spectrum’s SD-WAN differentiates itself in three ways. First, it is a fully managed service that enterprises can use to migrate to SD-WAN, while considering their current WAN networks and future network needs. Second, it can allow this migration to happen at whatever pace and operate in a hybrid environment along the way. And third, it relies on Spectrum’s connectivity options, including its fiber network, and is delivered over that SDN/NFV edge compute platform, which enables rapid service creation and service launches.
Brian Washburn, the practice leader of network transformation and cloud at Ovum, noted that because Spectrum is not a native commercial MPLS player it has opportunity to compete in the market. “Spectrum Enterprise can use SD-WAN to let enterprises optimize dedicated internet and broadband internet services with dynamic path selection and other tools,” he said.
Washburn also said that customers will be able to leverage internet services for a private WAN experience and leverage its Ethernet services alongside the SD-WAN.
Joining the Crowded SD-WAN Market
There are quite a few SD-WAN players entering the market, even as consolidation begins to happen. And Spectrum is just the latest provider to offer a managed SD-WAN to the crowded market.
Comcast first launched its managed SD-WAN service in 2017, based on Versa Networks’ SD-WAN technology. Sprint launched a managed SD-WAN offering based on VMware-VeloCloud technology in May 2017. GTT has a managed SD-WAN, also based on VMware-VeloCloud, which it debuted in April 2017. Orange Business Services offers a managed version of its Flexible SD-WAN service.
The SD-WAN market is also inundated with cloud providers (Oracle, which recently acquired Talari) and security vendors (Fortinet and WatchGuard both launched their own SD-WAN service) that are starting to dip their toes into the promising market.
Washburn still sees room for Spectrum.
While plenty of enterprises have “dabbled” in SD-WAN, he said that, “We are just getting started in terms of large-scale commercial deployments and there is plenty of runway.” Washburn added that we are just beginning to see the iterations of 2.0 and 3.0 version of vendors’ SD-WAN technology hit the market.
For Spectrum entering this market, Washburn says it is bringing a new option “for enterprise that want a partner that takes away the risks of deploying SD-WAN with its many related moving parts.”