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NTT Communications Takes Customer-Configured, NFV/SDN Services Global

By Paula Bernier May 29, 2014

NTT Communications Group today announced that its Arcstar Universal One services, about which NFVZone reported in December , are now available in more than 190 countries.

The global telco is breaking new ground with these services, which leverage NFV and SDN technologies to enable enterprise CIOs to use a portal to configure (and pay for) new network services on the fly – allowing these businesses to be more agile and potentially save big money.

“We are the first providers to really make these services available,” Takashi Ooi,

vice president of enterprise network services of the network services division at

NTT Communications Corp., said during a press conference from Japan.

Most other service providers are testing SDN, but NTT Communications is actually providing NFV and SDN services commercially, he said. And he added that NTT is many years ahead of other service providers on this front.

Ovum analyst Mike Sapien, however, questions this last point.

“I think they are dreaming if they really think they are ‘many years ahead’ of other service providers,” said Sapien. “Most service providers are already getting ready to provide IP VPN services using SDN/NFV, and it is only a matter of months and not years. It makes me think of Clearwire/Sprint announcing they had a two-year lead on 4G services in the U.S. – what happened there?”

Sapien added that many smaller providers, including Pacnet and Masergy, are offering similar services, and that other global players, like AT&T, BT, DT, Telefonica, and Verizon are not that far behind with similar services. He also questions NTT Communications’ assertion that it is a prevalent global network services player, saying the company is strong in Japan, and now has Virtela, which has a good base of U.S. customers with international requirements, but beyond that he’s not so sure.

Presenting alongside Ooi was Vab Goel, founder and chairman of Virtela, the managed and cloud-based network services company that NTT Communications Corp. acquired in January. Goel said NTT Communications is using an in-house SDN/NFV solution, which includes the controller, to power Universal One. (Virtela was a niche VPN provider in the U.S., was investing in OSS/BSS and portal technology, and had talked about its NFV/SDN roadmap before being acquired, Sapien told NFVZone.)

Goel said that with these new NTT Communications services, CIOs and other IT types will be able to activate and deactivate services as needed, have access to those services within a few minutes of inputting the portal request, and pay for those services on a per-use basis rather than engaging with telcos on three- to five-year contract commitments.

“CIOs are facing the biggest challenge of their lifetime,” said Goel, who noted that businesses need to be able to agile to reach financial and product launch goals, and are being pushed by more tech-savvy employees to deliver higher level networking experiences. “I think the CIOs need to transform. They need to adopt a disruptive technology…. It can’t be a back-end strategy.”

NTT Communications provided a firewall use case to demonstrate the benefits of Universal One.

Traditionally an enterprise would configure its network so branch offices connected to the public Internet by first traversing the private network to the headquarters site. But that can degrade the end user experience by adding latency. It also adds complexity and cost at the branch office sites, which as a result need local Internet access, specialized devices to make those connections, and dedicated IT staff. And, it creates inconsistency in security policy, as local solutions are implemented individually, according to NTT Communications.

With Universal One, the CIO or IT staff at headquarters just uses the NTT customer portal to configure the firewall function, and then the branch office(s) Internet traffic can connect directly and securely to the Internet, allowing for an improved end user experience, savings due to the elimination of the need investment and management in new branch appliances, and consistent security governance across the entire enterprise. NTT Communications said this could lead to a 50 percent reduction in costs, which includes both capital and operational savings.

During today’s press conference, NTT Communications aired a video in which CIO Senior Vice President Takanori Yukishige of All Nippon Airways Co. Ltd. read a prepared statement about how his company expects to realize $4 million in annual savings from its ICT reform effort, which includes the adoption of Universal One.

In addition to the benefits that NFV and SDN deliver to enterprises, Goel added that they also benefit service providers like NTT Communications, which have traditionally spent years on new service launches (now they can do them within months) and up to $100 million in investments (now they can bankroll them with a few hundred thousand dollars). 

To learn more about SDN and NFV, TMC welcomes you to the Software Telco Congress – The NFV Event from Aug. 11-14 at The Rio – Las Vegas.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

Executive Editor, TMC

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