Q&A with Song Toh, VP, Global Network Services, Tata Communications
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Q&A with Song Toh, VP, Global Network Services, Tata Communications

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Song Toh, VP, Global Network Services, Tata Communications talks to Capacity Media about SD-WAN deployment and the growing demand within the wholesale community and enterprise market.

1. How is Tata Communications supporting its customers in their deployment of SD-WAN?

We have migrated dozens of global enterprises from a legacy WAN architecture and MPLS to hybrid WAN with SD-WAN, and we currently manage over 3,000 customer SD-WAN sites worldwide. So, for us, SD-WAN is not just about the initial license sale or router deployments, but the customer’s entire network transformation journey. This approach sets us apart - our customers have a partner who can not only migrate them from a legacy WAN to a secure hybrid SDWAN with minimal business disruption, but as a managed service provider also continue to support the SD-WAN implementation.

One of our network transformation customers is Carlsberg. We deployed a hybrid software-defined network for the global brewer to support the digital transformation of its operations in 130 sites across Western Europe. We deployed the network in just 5 months – a year less than the industry standard – and did this during the FIFA World Cup, which is one the busiest times of the year for the brewer. As the growing use of cloud-based applications has led to 70% of Carlsberg’s network traffic being on the Internet, the hybrid software-defined network has given the brewer 10 times more bandwidth, reduced costs by 25%, and halved the occurrence of network incidents.

2. Can you explain your IZO SDWAN offering and how it differs from other products on the market?

Some players in the SD-WAN space provide the solution as-a-service, or as a pure overlay, on top of low-cost Internet, however the issue with this approach is that it gives enterprises no end-to-end performance guarantees. To ensure the reliability of the entire network, the SD-WAN needs to be underpinned by a combination of a private network and Internet underlay with predictable performance and SLAs.

The combination of our IZO SDWAN overlay and IZO Hybrid WAN underlay does just that. IZO is a comprehensive enterprise WAN and cloud enablement platform that combines the public internet uniquely engineered for predictable routing, together with enterprise multi-cloud connectivity and SD-WAN routing. It is a global platform built on Tata Communications’ global Tier-1 IP network and our partnerships with Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure & Office 365, Google Cloud, Alibaba, Salesforce, IBM, Oracle, and SAP to support enterprises’ network transformation. Recently, we have added a fully-managed Microsoft Azure Virtual WAN service to our IZO™ cloud platform, connecting enterprises seamlessly and securely over the Internet to cloud-based applications.

3. Why is SD-WAN so critical for enterprises and their growing demands?

A hybrid software-defined network is the best option for any enterprise that wants to harness the scalability and cost-effectiveness of the cloud and the public Internet to grow and become more agile.

We’re seeing more and more businesses implementing Office 365, moving their data centre applications to a public cloud, and adopting Unified Communications apps. They then realise the need to directly connect branch sites to the Internet to boost application performance while lowering costs. All of this means that enterprise networks are becoming far more complex than they were a decade ago, with infinitely more application topologies to consider: some on premises, some in the cloud, some transitioning between, and many of these are mission-critical. SD-WAN gives businesses greater visibility over their entire network infrastructure, and control over each application and branch.

Enterprises that want to expand internationally are able to use the cloud to add multiple new users to SaaS subscriptions in just a few minutes. When this cloud infrastructure is combined with a hybrid SD-WAN enabled network, businesses are able to manage traffic and deploy applications globally in real-time too. What would have previously taken a global business with thousands of employee days or weeks, can now be done in an instant. SDWAN is a key component of an agile, flexible IT infrastructure in today’s digital age.

4. What are the demands from the wholesale community in SD-WAN and how is Tata Communications meeting those needs?

Our SDWAN offering is aimed at the enterprise segment. We’re also seeing many communication service providers build their own SD-WAN offers. We’re happy to collaborate with carriers on the underlay and enable them to sell our SD-WAN overlay network to their own enterprise customers. The reason why this approach is a good way forward is because SD-WAN is a platform for enterprises to manage user experience and application performance across the enterprise WAN – so it makes sense for an enterprise to implement just one SD-WAN globally.

5. What is the roadmap for the company in the SD-WAN space as we venture into the rest of 2019/2020?

The SD-WAN market is highly competitive, so we will continue to invest in IZO SDWAN and forge the right partnerships such as our collaboration with Cisco to help our businesses transition successfully from legacy WANs to hybrid-software defined networks. We will reinforce our bring-you-own-network (BYON) and managed SDWAN overlay services to meet the needs of customers who might choose to work with their existing service providers on the underlay. As enterprise workloads continue to move to cloud, our managed WAN service will be increasingly cloud-centric and focus on management and customer self-service. Site-to-site connectivity remains important for the time being, but it’s unlikely to be where traffic growth will come from in the future. All in all, we’re confident that our strategy and global capabilities will enable us to drive our growth in this rapidly evolving market.

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