Verizon is adopting Cisco's iWAN as the foundation of its software-defined WAN suite of services, part of the carrier's larger initiative to bring network virtualization to its infrastructure.
The new managed service, announced Sept. 8, will help organizations that increasingly are using the cloud to deliver applications and services and that are having to deal with a workforce that is rapidly becoming more mobile and demanding better wireless Internet access.
This is Verizon's "first step in our overall move into the SDN [software-defined networking] world," Shawn Hakl, vice president of enterprise networking and innovation at the carrier, told eWEEK.
Verizon engineers looked at a number of options in a growing and increasingly competitive SD-WAN market, but chose Cisco's iWAN (Intelligent WAN) because of the carrier's long working relationship with the networking technology vendor and because Cisco's offering best "fits the use case" for Verizon, Hakl said. It's the most prevalent technology in use in the enterprise and can easily scale, he said.
Through the use of Cisco's iWAN technology, Verizon is offering integrated application optimization that will increase application performance and lead to a better user experience, and also will rely on the security capabilities in Cisco's ISR and ASR routers. In addition, the Intelligent Path Control feature in the iWAN offering enables customers to embrace a hybrid WAN environment, where they leverage both the Internet and Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) or other routes to move their traffic.
According to Verizon and Cisco officials, both companies starting this month will sell the managed solution to their enterprise customers in the United States, with plans to extend the offering to businesses in Europe, the Middle East and Africa by the end of the year. It will be supported by Verizon's IT consulting group.
The number of mobile-device users and amount of mobile network traffic worldwide is expected to continue to grow rapidly over the next several years at least. Cisco officials earlier this year said that by 2019, there will be 5.2 billion people worldwide using mobile devices and 11.5 billion mobile connections. This will all lead to a tenfold jump in global mobile data traffic, which will hit 292 exabytes per year by 2019, Cisco researchers said.
In April, Verizon became the latest telecommunications vendor to announce that it will transform its networking infrastructure through the adoption of SDN and network-functions virtualization (NFV) technologies, which promise to significantly change how networks are built and operated. The technologies are designed to make networks more programmable, agile, scalable and affordable by putting the network control plane and networking tasks into software, rather than having them run in expensive and proprietary gear.
Verizon is working with an array of top networking technology companies—not only Cisco, but also Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Juniper Networks and Nokia Networks (which is in the process of buying Alcatel-Lucent)—to create a new network infrastructure that will help Verizon save money and more quickly spin out new services for its customers.
SD-WANs will be a critical part of the industrywide network virtualization push going forward, as businesses—which in the past have used the Internet for such low-end tasks as email and Web browsing—continue to put more mission-critical aspects of their operations online.