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In case you missed them, I encourage you to check out Episodes 1 and 2 of the Infinite Edge Series now available on-demand here. Watch all episodes in succession—the content builds as we walk through the digital transformation journey for service providers and enterprises. And don’t miss Episode 3, “SASE: Getting an Edge on SD-WAN,” coming up on 10 March.
Below are some Episode 2 highlights, captured in this big-picture graphic created by our talented sketch artist.
Pandemic is Accelerating Transformation
Episode speakers shared numerous examples of how COVID-19 has rapidly accelerated digital transformation. Service providers and enterprises initially were in damage control mode—focused on connecting remote workers, maintaining productivity, and ensuring access to cloud applications. As the dust has settled, enterprises are shifting toward more strategic transformation initiatives around SD-WAN, cloud, 5G, and more.
- Paul Joyce, EVP, Orange Global Solutions for Business, Orange Business Services: “Those customers who had already embarked on a network transformation and a cloud transformation based on a software-defined solution…were in a much better position to deal with the problems…”
5G and Network Slicing
5G has stepped up alongside SD-WAN to address the critical need for flexible, secure, and reliable connectivity in the WFA world. While 5G service providers primarily have focused on consumers, a reported 10% are now targeting solutions for business customers.
Leading service and technology companies are turning their attention to a longer-term opportunity for 5G-related business services: on-demand, fit-for-purpose network slices that can be orchestrated across wireless and wireline networks. An enterprise, for example, could buy a set of network slices (i.e., real-time, premium, business, or best effort), overlay SD-WAN performance objectives onto each of these slices, and map QoS and security to applications on the fly. Leading potential use cases involve automotive, industrial, and smart city applications. See this blog from MEF President Nan Chen to learn about MEF’s work in this area.
- Asa Tamsons, SVP, Head of Business Area Technologies and New Businesses, Ericsson: “My vision is that we can bring this capability—that specific slice, a certain SLA level—on-demand…This requires the 5G rollout to be a bit more mature…That, I think, is super exciting because you’re bringing the user experience together with the network capabilities.”
SD-WAN: Right Place, Right Time
SD-WAN has become a go-to solution as enterprise CIOs have prioritized software-driven transformation. MEF Chairman Aamir Hussain of Verizon and others noted that the SD-WAN services market has thrived due to many factors, such as better application control, flexibility, security, multiple access options, global reach, and a consistent user experience. SD-WAN also has quickly adapted to work-from-home (WFH), although more needs to be done to optimize SD-WAN for remote workers.
- Will Eborall, AVP, Edge Solutions Product Marketing Management, AT&T Business: “I think [WFH] is the opportunity for SD-WAN. It’s really to scale more smaller form factor devices, lower cost points, to help with those power users that work from home.”
SD-WAN to SASE: Assure Me, Secure Me
SD-WAN is now evolving toward a new Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) architecture model that combines network connectivity and security functions with subscriber policies. As described in this FAQ, MEF has a dozen related projects on SD-WAN, SASE, Zero Trust, Universal SD-WAN Edge, and more.
- Aamir Hussain, Chief Product Officer and SVP Business Products, Verizon: “SASE services are really expected to provide an optimal combination of networking and security for a given subscriber by distributing the networking security functions dynamically across the SASE chain, across the SASE service path – based on service provider and subscriber policies that could by dynamically arranged to provide security on a virtual network.”
Security concerns have mushroomed as the enterprise security perimeter has dissolved with people working from home and moving all over the place. At the same time, threat activity has significantly increased. Fortunately, advanced security techniques are available to address many of these challenges, but they require cloud-scale computing to be effective. This is where SASE shines.
Craig Connors, VP and CTO, SD-WAN and SASE, VMware: “What SASE allows us to do is to deliver some of those advanced threat techniques in the cloud, but in a way that they are close enough to users that they don’t add a significant amount of latency.”
MEF SD-WAN Certifications
MEF’s SD-WAN certifications for services, technologies, and professionals featured prominently in Episode 2. Eight service providers and five technology vendors have achieved MEF 3.0 SD-WAN certification thus far. Meanwhile, professional certification is moving full steam ahead. There are now more than 500 MEF SD-WAN Certified Professionals (MEF-SDCPs) employed by 100+ companies in 33 countries.
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Stan has more than 23 years of experience in strategic marketing, industry analysis, event programming, and communications. In 2013, he joined MEF, where he has directed program development for global networking events, managed press and analyst relations, and contributed to strategic initiatives to accelerate MEF 3.0 adoption. Prior to MEF, Stan was a Senior Analyst at Heavy Reading, where he focused on Carrier Ethernet and SDN. He chaired 20 major Light Reading CE events worldwide. Prior to that, Stan was the director of market intelligence at Ciena.