uCPE will be the Smartphone of the Office Network – Colt Webinar (Part 1)

This week I attended an interesting webinar from colt on universal customer premises equipment or the promise that in the future there will only be one piece of customer on premises networking equipment that will run all of the network functions a company needs as virtual processes.
 
This is a clear response to certain trends:
– The ever-improving capability of technology to run multiple Virtualised Network Functions (VNF) and applications as software on virtual machines or containerised applications
– The increasing demand from customers for more control, and the blurring of the lines of demarcation between WAN and LAN, and supplier side and customer side control platforms
– The virtualisation of more of the network both on carrier-side and as SD WAN in specific offices/companies
 
All of these combine together into quite a state of flux where customers are demanding more visibility, more control, less equipment and less costs. All of which can be addressed by increased virtualisation and more flexible technology.
 
Colt’s webinar focused on a specific use case of a London Company, which started out with a hardware focused network including physical firewalls, and a WAN Optimiser from Riverbed. This comms architecture took up a lot of physical space, as well as having high utilities costs, and multiple management contracts for each piece of equipment. The task was to simplify this.
 
Colt began by starting a 3-site proof of concept using Versa’s SD WAN technology, but left all of the physical hardware still installed running in parallel to the new deployment. The Zero Touch Deployment capabilities of SD WAN were particularly helpful here. I can imagine that the prospect of a POC becomes a lot more attractive when the deployment times and disruptions are minimized, and the benefits can be witnessed immediately. Remember that a lot of cloud products sell quite quickly because of virtual nature allows trials, tests, and rapid demos which cannot be matched by legacy hardware solutions. Plug and play boxes don’t have all of those benefits but they are much better than larger legacy technology.
 
Colt called out one of the key selling points of the SD WAN deployment as being the reduction of management functions and the central management functions. This mirrors what Cavell is hearing from other vendors, customers want that visibility and control and to not have to spend huge amounts of time configuring each network piece and site one by one.
 
I am quite optimistic about the growth of centralised management. These systems are beginning to get more and more complex, with centralised platforms like VeloCloud from VMWare being able to do automatic health checks on the functioning of individual edge devices and repair their software if there are errors from a distance. I wonder what other things these centralised management tools are doing that is interesting, if you have anything to share on that front, please do get in touch!
 
You can find part two of this series here as I break down the phases of deployment presented in the webinar.
 

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Matthew Townend
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