Blog · 05 Jul 2018

Delivering the real benefits of virtualised network functions

NFV and VNF are at the very top of the hype curve. Find out how you can deliver the real benefits your business needs beyond the hype.

Global businesses today need networks that deliver the scale, intelligence, agility and security necessary to power business applications with ease.

You’re trying to stay one step ahead of the competition and want to deploy network functions, such as firewalls or acceleration, but shipping hardware to every site you need is time consuming, difficult and expensive.

What if you could implement a simple, flexible and agile solution that delivers a quick deployment from anywhere? And delivers the real benefits your business needs beyond the hype?

Introducing a new platform

We’ve used our depth of experience in delivering complex global networks to develop a solution that turns the hype into concrete and significant benefits that are available now.

Using integrated BT and Cisco technology, we’ve launched our new Connect Services Platform with Connect Edge devices, which include both Cisco Virtual Network Functions (VNF) and other 3rd Party VNFs. You even have the ability to create virtualised versions of your own apps, building a library of VNFs to meet your requirements. The platform lets you deploy functions at branches and remote locations in a fraction of the time it takes now, using a stable platform that performs as you need it to and with an ongoing evolution roadmap.

Our integrated platform and use of network automation means we’re able to deliver high-quality services faster and more easily. As a result, we’ll be able to simultaneously manage, improve and orchestrate service delivery across Network Functions Virtualisation projects, software-defined networking offerings and more traditional networks.

VNFs offer new levels of flexibility and agility in the deployment of network functions. There’s also the potential to improve operational efficiency and deliver cost savings by avoiding the need to distribute and install hardware, and removing the need for local technical expertise.

As part of the solution, we offer a range of industry standard VNFs, including SD-WAN VNFs, from partners we have an established track record with and work with on a day-to-day basis, such as Cisco, Riverbed, InfoVista, Fortinet and Checkpoint, What’s more, we don’t just offer the VNF, we offer the virtualised version of the managed solution. This means that you get 24/7 support, consultancy and the benefit of our years of experience of deploying these services.

Why change

We’re already working with a number of customers on early deployments – including a global manufacturing organisation and a financial services organisation - for differing reasons.

The global manufacturing organisation wanted their network to deliver cost improvements, the agility to support their business, performance and availability. They believe virtualisation will deliver a consolidated platform approach, driving cost optimisation in terms of hardware/software, environment and operations. The software driven approach and centralised tools will support greater agility in the delivery of the network service. They hope that virtualisation will provide the opportunity to explore different options around increasing availability of service. They see this as an ideal time to begin the testing and deployment of these services into their network as they begin to develop this strategy.

Another early customer is a global financial services customer who has a number of end of life issues on their current hardware estate. They’ve taken the opportunity to introduce a virtualisation approach to ensure they are not tied into legacy hardware solutions in the future. Their approach is to simplify the customer branch estate by consolidating functions onto single devices, using the associated tool set to improve management, visibility and control of the service. They’re using the new technology to take another look at the architecture of their network to align better with their business objectives, for example, the availability of service.

Planning is everything

The simplicity VNFs provide is the end result of a huge amount of planning, experience and expertise. We’ve already learnt from these early deployments to help make it a success.

Firstly, we work with you on your business case to identify where a VNF solution is viable — and where it’s not. VNFs won’t make sense in every situation, but where it does, we can help you design and build the solution that’s best for you.

Because it’s an ‘as a service’ solution, VNFs offer new approaches to commercials. Although it’s one of the areas we feel is yet to reach maturity, there are still options, including benefitting from our combined purchasing power to deliver the lowest possible cost or licences to give you greater contract flexibility.

Because we’ve built additional capability into our Connect Services Platform, you can identify which of your network functions you want to virtualise. This additional flexibility opens up new opportunities when putting together your business case, as you have a wider list of functions to build your case around.

Next, we’ll support you in testing and proof of concept trials, using our own test labs where we can examine the scenarios which matter most to you. And then we’ll work with you to roll out at your speed, starting with your trial sites first.

We understand that you have an existing network and network functions operating today, so effective migration and transition is key to any successful adoption of virtualised technology. We’ll use our years of experience managing this type of change to ensure the successful adoption into your network and operational environment.

Meeting the demands of a digital future

VNFs allow you to deliver and control your network functions centrally. As you look to consolidate and optimise your IT to help meet the demands of your digital future, we can help reduce your risk and manage costs by simplifying your infrastructure.

We offer the expertise, service, security and experience to ensure a successful solution.

Watch out for more information on the Connect Edge and Connect Services Platform trials, and about our new partners, coming soon.