Contributed By


Kevin O'Toole

Senior Vice President, Product Management at Comcast Business

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On the Cusp: The Intersection of SDN and Gigabit Speeds

May 17, 2017

Transform your business network into a high-performance, application-driven and cost-effective asset.

It’s not every day that you get to participate in a next generational moment, or what some like to call a tipping point, but I believe that’s exactly what’s happening right here, right now with the advent of software-defined networking.

Other pivotal moments in networking date back to the dawn of the internet.  Who could have envisioned the connected world we live in today?

In business networks, we evolved from frame relay and asynchronous transfer mode (ATM) in the Nineties, to Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) and Carrier Ethernet as our 21st century wide area networking technologies. All of these were big ideas at the time, and they’ve served us well to this point—with varying degrees of success and disappointments.

That’s why when a new way of delivering network services emerges, people are eager and ready to listen. Software-defined networking (SDN) is emerging as the future of complex business networking services, bringing dramatic simplification to the way IT departments run data networks. It will also change the way carriers like Comcast Business deliver new services.

SDN makes it possible for engineers and administrators to deploy and support distributed enterprise networks through centralized software controls that can activate and manage resources when and where they are needed.  This new way of delivering services -- from routers and networking to security -- promises unprecedented performance and flexibility. And because SDN operates in software, it allows IT departments to eliminate much of the equipment typically required at the edge of the network, reducing costs and complexities. In a nutshell, SDN allows users to centralize management of critical business applications, simplify network operations and reduce the cost of hardware. 

It takes a carrier-grade SDN platform to deliver virtual network functions (VNFs) like software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN). SD-WAN makes it possible for businesses to build virtual private networks (VPNs) over internet transport between sites or between sites and data centers. It enables application-specific control across the entire network or on a site-by-site basis.

SD-WAN: The Big Drivers

Consider how demands on networks have evolved. Today, there are fewer applications in corporate data centers and more in the cloud. Web conferencing, mobility, accommodating the Internet of Things and other business imperatives are driving a skyrocketing -- but wildly fluctuating -- demand for bandwidth.

According to an IDC study of 800 businesses with distributed enterprises, 94 percent of respondents said they have digital transformation initiatives underway or planned, and 88 percent believe digital transformation initiatives will increase bandwidth usage on the enterprise WAN.

Upgrading and enhancing WAN capabilities to accommodate increasing bandwidth requirements is a labor-intensive and costly process with traditional hardware-centric architectures. SD-WAN’s software-driven approach makes it possible to re-program network traffic routing without the typical hardware changes, minimizing the need for additional equipment and expenses at sites. 

It also reduces reliance on expensive legacy technologies such as MPLS, because it allows lower priority, less sensitive data to be sent over more cost effective public internet connections.  Private links can be reserved for mission-critical or particularly latency-sensitive traffic, and because SD-WANs are “application aware,” networks can be configured for applications to choose the best network path for optimal performance.

Ushering Businesses Into the Next Generational Moment

Imagine combining the power and flexibility of SDN with gigabit speeds over the nation’s largest IP network to transform your business network into a high-performance, application-driven and cost-effective asset. Today’s internet is not your “father’s internet.” Through significant investment, today’s broadband speeds are well equipped to handle the rigors associated with our connected economy. 

As the first cable company to deliver a carrier-grade, gigabit-powered SDN platform for enterprises and other multi-site businesses, we are offering businesses an opportunity to introduce SD-WAN to their existing infrastructure through a beta trial program.    Businesses can combine the power of SD-WAN with high-speed broadband to add new bandwidth and network management capabilities across all of their locations to make branch offices run as efficiently as corporate headquarters.   

These are exciting times, and beta customers have the opportunity to be pioneers in this next generational networking moment, by getting a preview of the future and helping to shape the networks of tomorrow.

Watch the video to learn more about how you can transform your business network into a high-performance, application-driven and cost-effective asset.

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