Blue skies, buoyant spirits, jam-packed tents and long lines at the rides – Munich’s Oktoberfest is a huge undertaking, even for the telecommunications infrastructure. At peak hours on busy days, there can be up to 300,000 people chatting on cell phones, posting pictures and uploading videos to the Internet. That doesn’t even include the cash machines and emergency call lines or the 144 food service companies who operate debit card readers and regularly call in more orders for sausage and pretzels over the phone. To fortify the networks for this data onslaught, network operators allocate additional bandwidth and install special lines for phone calls, webcams and credit and debit card processing. It’s a sprawling project that takes over ten weeks. All for just two-and-a-half weeks of partying.
Demand surges aren’t restricted to the 600-plus businesses scattered across the Oktoberfest fairgrounds, though. Today, organizations in all industries often need network infrastructure to be up and running in short order. They want to quickly connect new sites, machines and products or set up a dedicated virtual network for video surveillance in a flash. But that requires specialists to manually configure the networks – a time-consuming affair.
Watching networks change before your eyes
Want to set up an additional virtual network for video surveillance or customer WiFi with only a few clicks? At the Innovation Center Munich, visitors can experience the adaptability of Smart SD-WAN for themselves. The showcase isn’t a simulation, either. “We’re directly connected to the highly automated network platform and the ngena portal,” said innovation manager Sascha Steiner. In other words, the innovation management team operates a live network between the ngena node in Frankfurt, the Innovation Center in Munich and its development and management office in Darmstadt.
No one is global enough
That’s not the only challenge, either. In today’s globalized world, organizations may need Internet service in Brazil today and a firewall in China tomorrow. But not even big telecommunications providers have networks in every corner of the world. They have to partner with local providers. That takes coordination and hence time. When all is said and done, it can take up to six months to provision a new line.
T-Systems’ Smart SD-WAN solves both problems: the plodding pace of network expansions and modifications and the absence of infrastructure with close to universal worldwide coverage. “Organizations get an IP-based private network that they can essentially control at a keystroke, all around the globe,” said Ulrich Welss, Vice President Enterprise Networks at T-Systems.
A different take on business and operations
This product builds on two innovative ideas enabled by the services and processes of ngena (Next Generation Enterprise Alliance). For one, the alliance weaves its partners’ networks into a global grid and provides a standard menu of products based on that web. Now, if a customer requests services, T-Systems no longer has to contact multiple local partners one by one to ask how much the requested services would cost, assuming they’re available at all. The ngena alliance does away with that whole process. Second, ngena uses virtual network technology to automate network platforms. Being a software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN), the platform can be managed, modified and monitored centrally. That allows T-Systems to provide new services and connectivity much faster worldwide.
„If retailers decide to expand, their new stores will immediately get access to the corporate network as well.“
Ulrich Welss, Vice President Enterprise Networks T-Systems
Organizations can currently choose among three VPN access designs: XS, S or M. Depending on the option chosen, Smart SD-WAN provides single or redundant access using the Internet or an ethernet. All connections automatically come with end-to-end encryption, a security precaution that used to require tremendous effort to extend to small offices. Since the product launch in September 2017, access has been available in Germany, broad swathes of Europe, North America and Hong Kong. Value-added services such as firewalls, multi-VPNs and regional internet gateways are already available, with more on the way.
Configuring these services was once complicated, but is now fully automated with Smart SD-WAN. Step by step, T-Systems is rolling out L and XL access designs, additional services and a broader international footprint.
“Now, if a retailer decides to expand, its new stores will immediately get access not only to the IT services in the cloud, but to the corporate network as well,” said Welss. Company networks, in other words, no longer run the risk of missing the boat to a high-speed future.