CenturyLink launches fully managed SD-WAN service

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Tier-one service provider CenturyLink has introduced CenturyLink SD-WAN, a fully managed software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) service, which will allow smaller businesses to take advantage of networking features typically enjoyed by larger, better-resourced organisations.

Describing it as ‘the next evolution of private networking’, the CenturyLink SD-WAN service unifies network management across disparate types of network, creating an agile, responsive wide area network.

To ease customer adoption of this wide area network technology, CenturyLink is providing businesses with a proof-of-concept program, which allows them to trial the service for up to 90 days at up to five sites.

‘Cloud-based applications, media streaming, video surveillance, enhanced analytics and in-store experience continue to push the network needs of the enterprise. Without significant increases to their traditional private network budgets, enterprises are challenged to meet these ever-growing demands, improve the end-user experience and ensure security and application performance,’ explained CenturyLink chief technology officer Aamir Hussain.

CenturyLink SD-WAN is the answer, the company claims, and will addressing many of the common pain points faced by organisations that need high-speed, cost-effective network services for numerous locations. The new service will allow businesses to keep up with the impact that a highly dynamic modern application environment has on their network quality of service.

CenturyLink SD-WAN uses software to automate the ongoing configuration of edge routers and push traffic over a mix of private, wireless and broadband network access. The product bundles site connectivity, equipment, software licensing, configuration, performance tuning and monitoring with a comprehensive management and analytics portal. Customers can manage their own policies or have CenturyLink manage their policies.

Customers can build standalone SD-WAN networks or pursue hybrid approaches that integrate MPLS and SD-WAN connected sites. CenturyLink also even manage connectivity provided by third-party service provider partners to create an aggregated solution.

The SD-WAN has numerous benefits, says CenturyLink. In addition to a unified network management system that allows customers to monitor and fine tune the network and application performance across all of their sites, the service exploits network functions virtualisation (NFV) to provide on-demand features that would previously have required dedicated hardware, such as security.

CenturyLink wants to stake its claim on the emerging market for SD-WAN services, which is expected to expand rapidly. Research firm IDC recently noted that nearly 70 per cent of organizations expect to use SD-WAN in the next 18 months and the market could reach approximately $6 billion annually by 2020 (Interop Las Vegas 2016).

CenturyLink SD-WAN is being piloted today by more than 10 enterprises in the US and will be generally available in all 50 states in the third quarter of 2016. CenturyLink plans to roll out the service globally in about 100 countries in early 2017.

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