Accedian on "wires-only" SD-WAN

13 December 2017 | James Pearce


As service providers look to capture more of the enterprise market, Accedian CEO Partick Ostiguy discusses "wires-only" SD-WAN - a different solution to the flexibility problem

Patrick Ostiguy AccedianIf you’re an enterprise, you may have a legacy network no longer offering the flexibility required to meet the needs of your business. And for operators, modern demands of corporations leave them at risk of becoming dumb pipes.

In the face of this dimensional shift, vendors are scrambling to develop the best product, or to differentiate themselves from their rivals. For some, that means launching a full SD-WAN product, but Canada-based Accedian, there is a part way solution.

This, explains CEO Patrick Ostiguy when he sits down with Capacity, is what’s known as “wires-only” SD-WAN, a solution he claims helps reduce the costs, complexity, and challenges around reliability and scalability that a lot of enterprises are facing when switching to next generation networks.

“Wires-only SD-WAN sees the deployment of SD-WAN technology one step inside the network – at a pop or central office converted as a data centre,” he explains. “So you have all of the infrastructure for the support of compute, an environment that is essentially a data centre where you can leverage the volume and pricing, but can also pool you resources amongst multiple customers in that vicinity and simply offer port extensions from that compute to the end user premises.”

So how is the redundancy needed by enterprises achieved? “What you do is offer a mix on sites which need redundancy you install an SD-WAN box at the prem, or you can extend through fibre to the actual premises using a wires-only fashion,” he answers. 

“In those cases the actual pop is located to close enough to the vicinity of that core that reliability is assured by the actual pop itself where you have a redundant by nature infrastructure which is actually more reliable than the physical device you’d install.”

Accedian, founded in 2005, claims to have delivered platforms assuring hundreds of thousands of networks and services globally. Now, it is setting its sights on the software-defined and virtualisation markets.

When it comes to SD-WAN, it is playing the role of providing the wires-only extension that helps bring the computation closer to the edge for enterprises, Ostiguy says.

“The role we play in that is we are this wires only extension,” he adds. “So by providing visibility and the ability to see all the way to the end of that extension via software or ultra-low footprint devices, low cost reliable and simple to deploy yet managed and made visible by a function that is co-located in that same pop along SD-WAN instance and providing that information as well.”

That means the WAN can be “pretty transparent” to enterprises, giving them the ability to take a hands-off approach. In a lot of instances, this means service providers offering fully managed network services.

Dumb pipes

That relationship with services providers is important, he adds, and the promise of software-defined networking and network function virtualisation is helping service providers avoid becoming “dumb pipes” – something that is driving a lot of interest, according to Ostiguy.

“SD-WAN is the only thing that has picked up as a service but it is pure connectivity,” he claims. “If you look at all the NFV offerings, none of this has picked up because they were meant to reduce the number of boxes at a customer prem rather than provide any real value. So the benefits were really for the service provider rather than the enterprise in terms of bringing anything new.”

Most enterprise bandwidth is “converting their corporate apps to the cloud and moving those there” but this is being “withheld by performance issues due to the network, private or public”.

This means that service providers can application layer visibility onto how the transport and the network is affecting these applications one by one, whether streaming, web based or cloud based applications, according to the Accedian CEO.

“So we’re going into allowing offering a set of capabilities to the service providers to allow them to offer this as a service. Take the enterprise by the hand and help them in the process of moving applications to the cloud by offering that extra visibility and allowing them to see this how the applications were performing before during and after we transported them to the cloud.”

This is a key goal, as the company looks to broaden its entry into tier one mobile operators, whilst also expanding into more enterprise verticals through partnerships with service providers.

To help achieve this, Accedian has put together a new board of directors, which Ostiguy calls “the most solid board in the industry.”

The new board includes Steve Pusey, who is ex-group CTO of Vodafone; Steve Mills, a veteran of IBM, who headed up their software and systems until recently. Bill Tuber – vice chair of EMC, Petter Griffiths who was head of analytics and enterprise at Computer Associates. 

“We’ve been very privileged to have this new board in place,” he adds, saying this, plus a new investor, will help Accedian grow into these new verticals.