Big Interview

Q&A with Simon Niland, Head of Next Generation Networks, EMEA, Telstra

Simon Niland_Head of Next Generation Networks, EMEA & the Americas, Telstra.JPG

Simon Niland, Head of Next Generation Networks, EMEA, Telstra, talks to Capacity Media about SD-WAN and network optimisation.

1. How can enterprises best choose between a fully managed service and a network only service?

The most important part of any SD-WAN implementation is to fully understand its end goals at the start, and for the process to be driven by a business-led conversation versus a technology one. SD-WAN should ultimately be considered as part of a broader technology mix, including MPLS, WiFi, data centre, local area network (LAN) and other networking solutions. By understanding these considerations, organisations can identify what they need to implement SD-WAN – as well as the gaps in their ability to fulfil them.

At Telstra, we work closely with customers and partners to analyse their needs and define a detailed SD-WAN roadmap. This includes strategy and planning to assess the feasibility of SD-WAN adoption, where we review the current WAN environment against wider network, security and application performance objectives, including comparison and evaluation of best vendor technology across a range of SD-WAN vendors.

Next, we develop a proof of concept or target state architecture by defining architecture principles, application portfolio and roadmap, services framework, vision, and service level needs. We then help customers and partners integrate legacy network assets with new technologies, highlight issues, and demonstrate the best approach to mitigate risk. Telstra’s Program and Project Management team offer end-to-end project delivery in line with industry-standard methodologies, to support the successful implementation and integration of solutions in your environment.

2. When should enterprises consider a “co-managed SD-WAN” approach such as one in which they can create policies for apps, designate new branch sites and provision new apps, but their carrier/MSP handles network and equipment procurement, manages install, and troubleshooting?

Organisational network architectures are tailored to individual businesses and as such, there is no ‘one size fits all’ SD-WAN solution. The sheer range of possible solutions, combinations of services, and the number of vendor technologies on the market require a detailed architecture strategy to deliver the promised benefits. SD-WAN should be considered as part of a broader technology mix, including IPVPN, Wi-Fi, cloud, data centre, local area network (LAN) and other networking solutions if it is to deliver on its promise. It can be an opportunity to review and optimise networks from end to end. In that sense, a co-managed SD-WAN solution can make sense. However, it is essential to understand your organisation’s strengths and weaknesses relative to your chosen partner’s, and choose the best separation of responsibilities on that basis.

3. What criteria should WAN managers use to evaluate network and communications providers?

WAN managers would do well to choose partners that link customer goals with best-of-breed solutions, have a reputable track record, offer simplicity as well as a strong underlying network.

First, with so many options available, does the provider understand your business goals by designing solutions that use the best technology for your needs, enabling you to drive innovation and digital transformation? Does the provider have the expertise and capabilities to meet your SDN requirements, from the data centre to your LAN?

Does it have staff with internationally recognised certifications and accreditations, who can integrate and ‘fine tune’ your SD-WAN to meet your business needs, especially when deploying atop of or transitioning from ‘traditional’ WAN? Does the provider offer you a single touch point for all your network needs, making it easier for you optimise performance, reduce complexity and deploy new technologies that empower your organisation to thrive into the future?

Finally, does the provider offer the scale and diversity in network that you need to access your markets overseas? In a nutshell, this is where Telstra’s strength lies with its global network extending to over 400,000km, and more than 2,000 PoPs in more than 200 countries and territories globally. We also provide a business-grade link to Australia’s largest Internet backbone, with more access points than any other provider, alongside Australia’s fastest and largest mobile network.

4. What about mobile convergence? Are there reasons to source mobile and wireline or WAN service from the same providers?

As aforementioned, SD-WAN can and should be considered as part of the broader technology mix. Mobile alternatives offer flexibility to organisations with wider geographical footprints and those expanding into new markets. By sourcing mobile and WAN services from the same provider, customers can have the ease and flexibility of having visibility and control of their network infrastructure from a single place. The key is to ensure a broader view of network requirements and how they align with your infrastructure mix.