The big advantage of offering telecom services in the cloud is that they can be orchestrated and delivered with the aid of software. Software defined wide area networks (SD-WAN) connectivity can be delivered as a service using software orchestration.
An SD-WAN can be used to deliver enterprise services such as virtual private networks (VPNs), WAN acceleration, and bandwidth optimization. By using commodity off-the-shelf (COTS) in branch offices, SD-WAN as a service using orchestration can be delivered with the aid of virtual customer premises (vCPE) or lightweight CPE equipment.
Managed SD-WAN as a Service
Service providers see SD-WAN as a service as a new revenue opportunity where they can manage WAN services for enterprise businesses. SD-WAN can be appealing to end users and enterprise that don’t want to manage the WAN network, or applications, and would like to outsource these services to a service provider.
In a managed SD-WAN service, a customer pays a service provider a service fee to install and deliver connectivity, as well as any applications, monitoring, and maintenance services associated with the connection itself. This provides many opportunities for value added services such as security and applications performance enhancement. These could also include service level agreements (SLAs) which guarantee specific minimum service levels.
In order to deliver SD-WAN as a service using orchestration, a service provider needs an SD-WAN orchestration platform to control and manage the service. This typically involves some combination of SDN controller and network virtualization software that can automate the provisioning and operation of the software and elements required, many of which would be based in the cloud.
The SDN controller can be thought of as the “brain” that sees the networks and can manage which resources will be needed to give the customers the network connections and cloud resources they will need for an SD-WAN service or applications. The orchestration process also manages service chaining — a process by which several different services or applications can be linked together from a data center to supply the customer with the combination of services that they need.
One the main goals of SD-WAN orchestration in the cloud is to enable customer provisioning, whereby a customer could go to a Web portal and order a services that can be automatically configured and delivered with the SD-WAN platform, without requiring human intervention. This requires aid of open, interoperable SD-WAN tools and protocols which may include RESTful Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and automateed configuration standards such as Netconf, YANG and topology and orchestration specification for cloud applications (TOSCA).
Many different networking vendors and service providers are working on SD-WAN platforms and services. Some of the recent operators to announce SD-WAN services include AT&T, CenturyLink, Colt, Masergy, Singtel, Sprint, and Verizon. Leading providers of SD-WAN platforms and orchestration software include Ciena, Cisco, VeloCloud, Silver Peak, Versa, and Viptela — among many others.