Shift to SD-WAN "fundamental", Vodafone tells WAN Summit

Shift to SD-WAN "fundamental", Vodafone tells WAN Summit

The shift from traditional wide area networks (WAN) to software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) is as “fundamental” and as important as the switch from traditional music systems such as CD to digital.

That was the view expressed by group enterprise unified communications and connectivity director, Peter Terry-Brown during his opening keynote speech at this year’s WAN Summit in London.

Terry-Brown told a story of when his network team first approached him about introducing software-defined networking (SDN) into Vodafone’s services, admitting he was sceptical about the new technology.

“My team came to me with an offer - £100m to spend on SDN,” he told a packed conference hall at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London. “I’m not a technologist and I’d heard this all before. The technology changes but the customer experience doesn’t.”

He went on to liken the change in networking technology for enterprises to the evolution of music consumption, from vinyl records to tapes and CDs, saying that there was a change of technology but the basic experience was the same. However, the introduction of MP3 and digital music formats – technologies such as iTunes, for example – led to a revolution in the consumption of music.

“The move from physical infrastructure to digital in the music industry is exactly the same as the move to SDN,” he added. “In the next five years the majority of the industry will get on board with SDN. For us the hardware changes, the delivery model changes, the experience for our customers will change but so will their usage model. The move to SDN is as fundamental as the move to digital was for the music industry four or five years ago.

“We’ve got a technology shift – they don’t change customer behaviour – but we also have a demand shift and that fundamentally changes the way a network behaves. 1 million new devices on the network every hour. The impact that will have on our customers.”

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