WAN Summit Q&A with Song Toh of Tata Communications

18 November 2020 | WAN Summit

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Song Toh, VP of Global Network Services at Tata Communications, speaks to Capacity Media about SD-WAN investment and adoption, next-gen technology opportunities, and what the company's roadmap in the SD-WAN space looks like as we venture into 2021.

Q. The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated digital transformation processes, and enterprises are revisiting their networking strategies. As enterprises rely more on cloud-based applications, what trends have you seen in regard to SD-WAN investment and adoption?

The pandemic impacted businesses and people alike in more than one way. During the initial days and months, we saw few enterprises laying low on investments front to preserve capital. However, we have now started to see increasing interest of businesses in transforming their network and digital infrastructure, to ensure speedy recovery and growth of their businesses. For example, travel industry was highly impacted by Covid-19, but we now have customers in this sector who are keen to invest in SD-WAN.

Enterprises have now realised that they need to be ready for unforeseen situations like this pandemic. A more resilient, secure and agile network is the only way to work around with such uncertainties.

Q. What are the latest service offerings that can help WAN managers today get the most out of their networks?

Cloud-centric architecture is the need of the hour, as it can enable enterprises to make the most of their networks. Building agility at the cloud edge with the ease of deploying different virtual network functions at these edges would help connecting to the cloud better. For example, we are expanding our footprint around the world to bring enterprises closer to the cloud so that their mission critical traffic is best routed to the cloud applications.

Innovative solutions such as controlling remote access to applications at a granular, per user, per application level to achieve zero-trust access can also help optimise the use of network.

Q. How much more are enterprises focusing on the benefits of using a centralised software-centric model today?

The scalability required to deal with the effects of this pandemic is often limited by the hardware-centric model. As a result, the use of software-driven, cloud-native network-as-as-service, and VNF-based multi-service cloud edge has become more popular. For example, we rolled out 200+ remote workers in less than six hours for a customer, via our software-centric remote access.

In addition, enterprises need to see the outcome regardless of the choice of technology. They need to realise the faster deployment of network functions, routing policies, which could not be achieved without SD-WAN.

Q. SD-WAN has been one of the most important developments in enterprise connectivity, but what other next-gen technologies are you investing in for future development and rollout?

A secure network infrastructure is extremely important for an enterprise’s complete digital transformation. We are introducing holistic security architecture for enterprises, where we blend the on-premises next-gen firewall and UTM, with cloud-based security like web gateway, CASB. We are also looking towards an entire zero-trust access model where the network does not trust anyone or anything until they have been securely identified authenticated, and authorised. We are also deploying multi-service cloud edge, which is often called Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), as part of service architecture for our enterprise customers.

Q. What is the roadmap for the company in the SD-WAN space as we venture into 2021?

In addition to SASE, we are introducing secure remote user connectivity with the use of SD-WAN platform, targeting remote working users for enterprise customers. We will leverage the benefits of SD-WAN with the software-centric, cloud-native AppWAN from NetFoundry (a subsidiary of Tata Communications), providing an integrated solution to meet the requirement for hybrid designs with low-cost broadband and/or 4G/5G access. We are also strengthening our managed SD-WAN portfolio and practices by partnering with global SD-WAN technology providers, ensuring that we provide the most secure, agile and reliable network to our customers.