Innovative Industry Insights to Help Accelerate Digital Transformation in a Communications-driven World

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Digital Transformation

New SVPs Jason Rutherford and Andrew Morawski to Lead Oracle Communications

As the Communications industry continues to transform in emerging digital B2B2C marketplaces powered by the Cloud and 5G, Oracle is dedicated to providing the technology and infrastructure to help communications service providers and enterprises take advantage of the opportunities ahead. As part of that commitment, Oracle is excited to announce the appointment of two new leaders in its Communications vertical: Andrew Morawski, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Oracle Communications - Networks business and Jason Rutherford, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Oracle Communications – Applications business. Each will be responsible for the strategy, enablement, development, sales, service, and support for their respective global business units. Jason Rutherford, who is returning to Oracle Communications after two years as Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer for KORE Telematics, brings years of experience in the B/OSS space as a previous Group Vice President, Global Sales, Oracle Communications, and as a senior leader in sales, pre-sales, alliances and consulting at Convergys and Accenture. Rutherford will focus on Oracle’s Digital Experience for Communications and its B/OSS portfolio. “Oracle’s breadth and depth of communications industry solutions is unmatched, serving a strong community of globally recognized operators” said Rutherford. “I’m thrilled to be back with this team and look forward to continuing the momentum in helping our customers thrive in the digital experience economy.” Andrew Morawski brings a wealth of experience in the industry, having served most recently as Vodafone America’s President and Country Chairman. His previous experience also includes roles as President and CEO of Telstra, Americas, and as Managing Director, Cable & Wireless, Americas, as well as in senior management at Nortel. Morawski will focus on Oracle’s network infrastructure portfolio for CSPs and enterprises. “Oracle continues to drive innovation as this next generation of connectivity rolls out,” said Morawski. “I’m impressed by the deep domain expertise of the talent within Oracle Communications and look forward to continuing our heritage of helping both operators and enterprises build, secure and optimize their networks for the future.” To meet both new executives, visit us at Oracle OpenWorld, September 16-19.  Learn more about how Oracle is powering digital transformation in the communications industry, with sessions and demonstrations spanning digital experience (DX), cloud-native monetization, modern orchestration, SD-WAN and 5G. Also check out other Oracle Communications blogs and subscribe.  

As the Communications industry continues to transform in emerging digital B2B2C marketplaces powered by the Cloud and 5G, Oracle is dedicated to providing the technology and infrastructure to help...

Digital Transformation

‘Up Your Game’ with Oracle OpenWorld Communications All-Star Lineup!

Oracle OpenWorld 2019 will feature an all-star lineup of sessions showcasing our applications for the communications industry, spanning digital experience (DX), cloud-native monetization, modern orchestration, and 5G. The event will put the spotlight on digital consumers, who in the “experience economy” expect simplicity, visual engagement and personalization as they go from consideration to purchase to consumption to payment and support. To help you navigate the many communications industry-focused sessions and demos, we have put together a detailed “Focus on Communications’ Program Guide to help you optimize the time you have at the event. Below is a sneak peek of some “don’t-miss” options: Day one kicks off with “Thriving in New Digital Marketplaces” [GEN6150], a keynote and fireside chats with industry visionaries Sven Friedli, Swisscom’s Head of Architecture Management & Technology Transformation; Nik Willetts, CEO, TM Forum; and Andrea Cesarini, Managing Director, Accenture. These industry experts will look at trends in the market for digital services and what to expect with 5G, AI-powered digital experiences (DX), open APIs, cloud native architecture, automation and zero touch partner interaction, not to mention the robust tools needed to orchestrate and monetize digital marketplaces at scale.  “Unleash Your Digital Experience – to Transform, Disrupt and Thrive-Swisscom” [PAN6139] will examine how data with AI will rule, and how Oracle Communications is collaborating with leading CSPs to manage and migrate customer data for superior engagement, ordering, and care processes. If going fully digital interests you, be sure to attend “Disrupt or Be Disrupted: Becoming a Next-Gen Digital Service Provider” [PAN6259], which examines software-defined cloud native infrastructure, DevOps culture, and the ways in which 5G and DX will combine to accelerate the digital transformation journey. Also take a look at our customer case-studies, such as: “Tech and Media Monetization Case Studies” [PAN6147], a discussion featuring Dell Digital , INAP and Globo, who will examine tech and media monetization stories that demonstrate true disruption and innovation; And “Innovations in Subscription-Based Data Monetization” (CAS6311), which will reveal how Equifax monetized an array of data using subscription-based pricing, layered with customer-centric monetization levers in a simplified catalog. As with the companies highlighted in our case studies, thought leaders’  IT budgets are increasingly earmarked for digital transformation to further cultivate digital competencies and make product and service delivery faster and more agile. This will require that web-scale IT principles combine with communications technology. That is the focus of “5G Now or Never Moment for CSPs: Is Your IT Ready? [PAN6141], an exploration of the once-in-a-generation chance to establish a central position in the 5G value chain, and the transformative aspects of cloud native that will help you rethink your current operation. If deeper customer relevance is appealing to you, learn about providing a persona-based user experience for offers that include music, video, and an IoT-based digital assistant. “AI-Driven Communications Catalog to Create Relevant Digital Services” [PAN6146] is a panel discussion about how Oracle’s AI-driven enterprise catalog for communications (part of the Digital Experience of Communications solution), which can help providers easily configure pricing and promotions for various fulfillment paths from one central platform. “Digital Experience CX for Communications and Media Industries” [CON5717] will explore how Oracle has invested in a completely new approach to the CRM landscape, building on the pedigree of 600+ CRM and 1000+ Cloud implementations in the communications and media industry worldwide. Whether you are looking to upgrade, augment or replace your existing applications and technologies, you should hear how Oracle has developed the next generation Digital Experience capabilities. To see how all these principles can be put into practices, visit these demos showcasing 5G, DX, Monetization and Orchestration capabilities: Media and Entertainment Industry Solutions: Innovate, Delight, Transform Digital Experience for Comms: Digital Convergence and Monetizing Location Services Data-Driven Innovations for the Communications Industry Monetizing Mobile Services for Digital Operators Launching Smart City, 5G and IoT Services Enabling the Digital Marketplace At Oracle OpenWorld, these focused sessions, speakers and demos will help you better grasp what’s unique about digital behavior and preferences, and how AI and other transformational technologies will help you rapidly build first- and third-party offers personalized to customers. For more information about accelerating digital transformation, visit Oracle Communications, and register here for Oracle OpenWorld.  The complete Oracle Communications Program Guide is available here. Also check out other Oracle Communications blogs and subscribe.  

Oracle OpenWorld 2019 will feature an all-star lineup of sessions showcasing our applications for the communications industry, spanning digital experience (DX), cloud-native monetization,...


Empowering Partners to Build Out Specialized Expertise Is Key to Sales Success

We recognize that our partners realize greater margins and revenues if they offer more services to their customers than just product resale. Our experience says that approximately 70 percent of partner revenue comes from services delivered around products, and so it becomes mutually beneficial for Oracle and our partners to focus where the margins are higher. To cultivate our partners’ ability to increase revenues and keep customers happy, we have developed one of the most comprehensive partner programs in the Communications industry, with a focus on developing partner expertise. We have invested in very clearly defined best-in-class Oracle Partner Network (OPN) enablement programs that elevate partners, making them implementation and managed-service “experts” in Oracle solutions. In fact, they get the same training as those offered to our internal sales, presales and consulting experts. That means customers can be confident when they buy and deploy with an Oracle specialized partner that they are getting the highest degree of competency and support. Over the past seven years, partner training and expertise has grown significantly, with more than 1,000 certified partner specialists delivering implementations and managed services around Oracle Applications and Network products. Together with Level-1 and Level-2 specialists, Oracle Communications can boast more than 10,000 partner specialists across approximately 100 companies. For partners, the benefits are substantial. They not only differentiate themselves from other partners in the market, but the specialization and training helps them optimize their business models and improve revenues and margins (see sidebar “What Oracle Partner Network Specialists Have to Say"). Our partners value Oracle Communications’ enablement training so highly that they make the significant investment to send their professionals to week-long trainings. The tangible and intangible benefits build over time through the enablement process. For Oracle Sales teams – they are more confident recommending specialized partners to our customers to ensure customer and project success. To learn more about partner enablement, attend Oracle OpenWorld, where Oracle Communications will host partner-specific sessions to help companies expand their contact lists and resources. Also feel free to contact us for more information about the Oracle Partner Network, here. Subscribe to the Oracle Communications blog and visit Oracle Communications to learn more about our products and services.

We recognize that our partners realize greater margins and revenues if they offer more services to their customers than just product resale. Our experience says that approximately 70 percent of...


Contact Centers Connect with SD-WANs To Improve Reliability and Customer Experience

Single-location contact and call center of years past had little need for Software-Defined WAN (SD-WAN) technology. But today’s widely distributed global call and contact center leaders depend on SD-WANs to ensure that Unified Communications (UC) efficiencies are carried across customer service, technical support, and outgoing call banks across multiple locations. The right SD-WAN solution improves UC reliability and customer experience. Contact centers often count on customer experience benefits from SD-WANs and Session Border Controller solutions to power differentiation via tiered services, intelligent automation of call distributors, and enhanced reliability and predictability of networks. The solutions enable: High degree of CCaaS operator secure service differentiation; Ability to deliver tiered service (platinum, gold, silver) to different customers; CCaaS capabilities that meet or exceed unique Business Process Outsourcer (BPO) needs relevant to their customers’ industries and to end customers using failsafe SD-WAN innovation. A failsafe SD-WAN inoculates CCaaS operators from issues arising from how well or poorly any underlying wide area network (WAN) connection is performing. The fact that multi-location CCaaS operators already have multiple WAN links at each location make them particularly fertile ground for SD-WAN deployments. Telephony systems' automated call distributors (ACDs) benefit from SD-WAN to securely distribute calls among agents based on system capacity, global geographies, human availability, agent skill sets, etc. For UC real-time applications like VoIP and videoconferencing, SD-WAN technology helps ACDs deliver best-in-class reliability and predictability by choosing network paths with the least amount of packet loss and lowest jitter, and switching sub-second to a better path in the face of high loss or jitter, and even optionally replicating real-time packet flows for the highest levels of call quality. Note that for UC, CCaaS and VoIP, simple roundtrip measurements of network latency and loss are insufficient to make appropriate forwarding decisions. More than for other applications, one-way measurement of network performance is essential here. Benefits of Centralized SD-WAN Orchestration SD-WAN solutions centralize and ease configuration and ongoing WAN management. This ensures IT gains a far simpler and more scalable approach, in contrast to constantly fiddling with router settings or being at the mercy of separate MPLS providers. And the self-driving nature of smart SD-WAN solutions lowers OpEx costs and increases reliability still further, fixing network problems as they occur rather than simply reporting them. A failsafe SD-WAN solution further allows the contact center operator to cap spending on expensive MPLS connections while augmenting them with lower cost, high bandwidth Internet circuits. Given that the cost per bit of data center MPLS bandwidth is anywhere from 10x to 100x the cost of Internet bandwidth, the ability to have even a portion of a global contact center operation’s WAN needs handled with Internet connections rather than MPLS results in substantial savings and operational efficiencies. If you are interested in learning more about Oracle's SD-WAN offerings, please visit our home page. You can also contact the team here to learn more about how Oracle delivers failsafe SD-WANs. Also consider accessing these top SD-WAN assets: Webcast: Listen to how SD-WAN improves a customer’s UCaaS and CCaaS Offerings Whitepaper: SD-WANs for Contact Centers Case Study: Learn how a Chemical company compounds cost savings with their Oracle Failsafe SD-WAN Read more SD-WAN blogs here, and subscribe today!

Single-location contact and call center of years past had little need for Software-Defined WAN (SD-WAN) technology. But today’s widely distributed global call and contact center leaders depend...


As Operators Set Their Sights on the Enterprise, ‘Slicing’ Becomes More Attractive

During the 5G World event in London a few weeks ago, much of the talk was about how to go after the enterprise. CTOs and other executives were discussing how they could give the enterprise the control they so desperately wanted over their policies and the QoS they offer employees. For example, Ovum’s Dario Talmesio commented during one of the keynotes that CSPs need to better understand different Industry verticals in order to close the gap between traditional telecom (e.g. connectivity) and industry-specific 5G value-added services they want to offer. Another example emerged when SK Telecom illustrated how 5G would possibly be applied to Industry 4.0, as with monitoring manufacturing plants in Quality Assurance processes that use advances in image recognition. So even in instances where Operators are conflicted about moving to a consumption-based model, it is clear they have tired of the “build-it-and-they-will-come” paradigm in which they have to spend heavily on infrastructure in the hopes of later recouping the cost. The problem is that Wall Street continues to measure them on CAPEX, when they would really prefer to move to an OPEX model. They have to face the challenge of how to change existing market perceptions so that they can ultimately sell subscription-based services—building some portions of their networks, and outsourcing others so they are no longer handcuffed by giant, un-customizable networks. Enter Network Slicing Those pain points brought network slicing front and center in the event’s tracks, sessions and workshops, which explored models for differentiation based on the ability to customize networks to different performance SLAs and QoS parameters (e.g., latency, throughput, etc.), all of which can be priced and monetized in different ways. The GSMA has estimated that network slicing could open up $300 Billion in revenue opportunities for operators by 2025. With that potential, it’s easy to see why mobile network operators would consider partitioning their virtualized physical networks into multiple logical network “slices,” helping them create a universe of diverse services tailored to different businesses’ needs and demands around IoT, autonomous vehicles, mobile broadband, etc. As the industry continues its work on 3GPP standards, companies like AT&T, Verizon and others are aggressively laying the groundwork for “slicing” by cloudifying and keeping an eye toward transforming their core networks. As the core moves to cloud, different migration paths will likely become possible with 5G (EPC or 5G SA, NSA). As these changes take form, enterprises will be able to readily apply policies and give businesses control over devices. For example, at the show, Bosch UK demonstrated how it is possible to monitor devices and reduce unnecessary production stops for maintenance by using Production Line monitoring, as well as AI/ML to predict when a Production Line component is approaching its limits so that “needed-versus-scheduled” maintenance can be applied. Never before have companies across all industries needed these types of capabilities more than now, with more devices, more things, and more threats coming onto networks around the globe. With slicing, it becomes feasible for service providers to configure network resources optimally, for many tenants in parallel. As they build out their own enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB), they can pick slices from companies like Oracle to serve their business customers with different performance characteristics and policies, giving enterprises the control they really want. To learn more about 5G and network slicing, check out our on-demand webinar, “New Operating Models for Network Slicing” and our blogs  “Gone With One-Size-Fits-All Approach, In With Network Slicing,” and “Three ‘Best Practices’ for Building Out 4G and 5G Services as Cloud Native Evolves.” For more blogs on 5G and slicing, go here, and make sure to subscribe today.        

During the 5G World event in London a few weeks ago, much of the talk was about how to go after the enterprise. CTOs and other executives were discussing how they could give the enterprise the control...


Four SD-WAN Industry Use Cases: Financial Services, e911, Professional Services & Manufacturing

There are dozens of industry use cases for SD-WAN, but four stand out as particularly noteworthy. Nearly every industry undertaking Digital Transformation through VoIP, UCaaS or CCaaS benefits from SD-WAN-derived cost-saving, simplification and streamlined IT management. They can also benefit from the improved reliability and user experience that only a failsafe SD-WAN solution can deliver. Let’s focus on the business operations for these four industries to detail similarities and differences of the impact of SD-WAN. Financial Services: Credit Unions and Banking Public Sector: Metro 911 Networks Professional Services: Legal Manufacturing Financial Services The financial services business embodies the phrase “time is money.” This increasingly competitive market shrinks time to provide customers with the best possible consumer experience. That experience requires real-time data as downtime equals lost business and customer churn.  Oracle’s Talari SD-WAN failsafe feature set benefits financial network operations with sub-second response to any network issues (not just link or device failures), ensuring uninterrupted service and unmatched Quality of Experience (QoE). SD-WAN also compounds WAN options by adding bandwidth to support new applications. Even if branch office MPLS connections go down, business continues uninterrupted thanks to failsafe SD-WAN innovations. “With Oracle Talari SD-WAN in place, access to data applications, voice sessions and the ATM were unaffected. In the past we would have been on the phone with our service provider, frantically trying to get the circuit back up. This time there was no emergency,” United Federal Credit Union. Public Sector/Emergency Services In our next industry, every day is about real emergencies. 911 first responder calls and first responder dispatch requests represent life and death. Failsafe SD-WAN use by Essex County Fire and Rescue ensures communications are real time, saving lives and defusing emergencies including fire, flooding and other natural or man-made disasters.  Oracle Talari SD-WAN appliances along with multiple 3G connections are part of the technology on emergency response vehicles. The failsafe SD-WAN technology intelligently manages connections based on instantaneous availability, QoS and costs of 3G and satellite connections. When communications are problematic on any wireless connection, the SD-WAN solution intelligently routes communications via the other available WAN connections. Professional/Legal After 100+ years of operation, Taft, Stettinius & Hollister, LLP’s 400 lawyers and 300 staff depend on Oracle Talari SD-WAN to support major growth globally.  Reliable, high QoE connectivity is critical, allowing team collaboration through phone calls, videoconferencing, email and document sharing. Always available online client materials, case strategies and oral arguments preparatory material delivers a competitive edge.  Network outages are unacceptable as they could prevent legal teams from on-time filings and meeting client deadlines. “In our business, everything is an emergency for clients,” says John Carroll, Director of Technology Solutions at Taft. “Contracts must go out immediately. Settlements must be handled fast.  We needed a reliable network that keeps the workflows active, prevents dropped calls and provides 100-percent uptime with zero interruptions.” Taft’s initial SD-WAN vendor failed to prevent WAN downtime. The team selected Oracle Talari SD-WAN for failsafe WAN uptime and seamless application performance during carrier disruptions including not only hard outages but also network “brownouts” that would otherwise cause slow, unreliable user experience. Construction Here’s a rock-solid example of failsafe SD-WAN benefits.  Dayton Superior, a $400 million supplier of concrete construction supplies, builds the foundation of many world-class structures through concrete accessories, chemicals, forming and paving products. For widely distributed teams in the U.S., Canada, Panama, Colombia, China and Australia, Dayton had been operating an MPLS network with primary and secondary T1 circuits to each site plus data centers in Cincinnati and Dayton, OH. Secondary WAN connections were only used when the primary circuit failed. The team discovered it had missed the tremendous cost-savings benefits of SD-WAN. “We were wasting the bandwidth on the backup circuit,” says Dave Badgley, senior systems engineer at Dayton Superior. “We couldn’t use both network connections at the same time with our routers.” Using Oracle Talari SD-WAN, Dayton’s WAN ensures the best customer experience for critical applications, and all applications saw better performance thanks to the increased bandwidth.  Business-critical VoIP calls, ERP, sales transactions, and desktop virtualization are all assured network priority. Several similarities stand out across all four industries. All require real-time, high-availability communications.  Simplified WAN management and operations as well.  Differences appear in application latency sensitivity. The videoconferencing support critical in legal services is not always a requirement for Credit Unions and Banking. Similarly, sub-second response time for emergency 911 calls doesn’t neatly map to legal service operations. When failsafe SD-WAN features are available, nearly every business benefit through their use today and ability to reliably and cost-effectively grow tomorrow. If you are interested in learning more about Oracle's Talari SD-WAN offerings, please visit our home page. You can also contact the team here to learn more about how Oracle delivers failsafe SD-WANs.

There are dozens of industry use cases for SD-WAN, but four stand out as particularly noteworthy. Nearly every industry undertaking Digital Transformation through VoIP, UCaaS or CCaaS benefits...

Digital Transformation

Women in Communications — Where Are We Now and Where Are We Headed?

Efforts to educate, upskill and re-skill to keep pace with rapid technological and digital transformations are critical for women’s empowerment and well being, but also that of global health since advancing equality adds trillions to GDP and global economies. This was one issue I discussed with Shirin Esfandiari last month upon her return from The Big 5G Event and her participation in the Cloud track and related “Women in Telecommunications” workshop. It made me think about my own 20-year journey in telecoms and the acceleration of awareness and momentum in our industry. Communications is a microcosm of the global whole, and it is clear that many operators, vendors and industry organizations are working to understand and lift any barriers blocking pathways for women. Diversity and inclusion have become a major focal point for most operators, with Verizon, AT&T and others magnifying their own efforts, and even seeking out suppliers and partners that are working toward similar goals. Oracle, for example, has stepped up initiatives to cultivate female leadership through its Oracle Code One initiative, and its Women in Technology Summit in San Francisco, as well as its Oracle Women’s Leadership momentum, with 400+ events last year and more than 14,000 employees taking part. The same energy is permeating communications-industry standards bodies, associations and organizations in which carriers and vendors collaborate. One of the most active has been the GSMA’s Women4Tech Program, which now has three tiers of initiatives for the advancement of women: Youth level (GSMA Tech4Girls); Career/working level (Women4Tech RIG); C-Suite (Women4Tech Executive).  Each offshoot is designed to not only drive up representation in the technology industry but to also forge a path for more women in Board positions, as studies have shown that diversity at the top shatters “groupthink” and leads to more creativity and broader views. As recently pointed out by US Cellular’s Vice President Courtland Madock during a recent keynote, part of these positive trends is the fact female leaders have helped “normalize” situations once stigmatized, for example inspiring acceptance that it is possible to balance parenting and career, or that it is possible to take time off and return to a career. This normalization is inspiring more flexibility and "returnships" that allow women to have flexibility to work their own hours and to come back—all of which have triggered the new “bump” in employed women. According to recent NPR reports and articles in Light Reading’s “Women in Comms” and WiCipedia, the rate of growth for new job holders is currently higher for women, reversing a trend of the previous three years, where women were leaving the workforce at twice the rate of men.   Removing Bias in Artificial Intelligence (AI) Other than a focus on cultural progress, there must also be an assessment of what can be done with technology itself to further promote progress. For instance, the gender biases built into artificial intelligence (AI) models by what are currently predominantly male development teams (85 percent) will directly impact women through the consequent transformational technologies like ML, blockchain, and automation. In response to that realization, there are efforts to “upskill” women so that female representation goes into the models that will govern our increasingly digital society. Another angle of that issue is the fact a majority of AI-threatened jobs are held by women, with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimating 26 million female jobs across 30 countries are at risk of disappearing and that 180 million women’s jobs globally are at risk of displacement. In all that is happening, it is clear we’ve come a long way…but still have a long way to go. While the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report 2019 reveals we have closed the gender gap 68 percent worldwide—with improvements in women’s earned income and the presence of women among senior officials and technical workers— it will take 200 years to close the remaining 32 percent at the current pace. It’s good that even at this rate, the economic impact is significant. McKinsey & Company’s most recent annual study on the impact of advancement of women predicts global GDP could increase by $770 billion by 2025 by advancing equality even in just parts of the world. The message here is to keep doing what we are doing, but perhaps with a little more speed and vigor. The GSMA recommends five key steps as a start: Push representation of men and women on shortlists for all senior roles Run job descriptions through gender bias decoding software Invest in training and coaching programs Support employees returning to work following parental leave, allowing for flexible working and check-ins with HR Encourage all people to take advantage of learning opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) areas To find out more about steps Oracle is taking, follow Oracle Women Lead (OWL) and attend the Oracle’s Women in Technology summits.

Efforts to educate, upskill and re-skill to keep pace with rapid technological and digital transformations are critical for women’s empowerment and well being, but also that of global health since...

Heavy Reading Research Reveals How CSPs Will Reinvent Themselves Through Network-enabled Communications & Cloud

Heavy Reading’s “Future Networking Survey Report” gathered responses from 61 CSP decision makers around the world. Below are insights on what it reveals in terms of future network-enabled communications and cloud markets as CSPs strive to participate in smart ecosystems (smart cities, smart home, etc.), as well as uncover new revenue sources through virtual networking architecture, such as network slicing. The survey explores the ways in which 5G, cloud-driven ecosystems, AI, massive IoT, and URLLC services will have an impact, and in the findings it is clear that CSPs want to transcend marginal roles (like providing just connectivity to VNOs or in partnership with SIs). They instead want to move on to own-brand, industry-vertical IoT solutions that leverage either best-of-breed components or end-to-end industry-specific network slices that capitalize on the flexibility, agility, and security benefits they get from their cloud investments. Worth noting is the fact that when asked about what role they’d want to play in building a smart ecosystem for their next transformative business opportunity, most CSPs in the survey said they would like to provide integrated, industry-vertical solutions consisting of connectivity, platform, applications and devices. It seems they will want to provide those solutions directly to enterprises—as a branded service in various ways, including: As a provider of integrated, industry-vertical solutions consisting of connectivity, platform, applications and devices directly to enterprises as a service; As a value-added channel for partner products through inclusion of connectivity and supplementary services in a managed service; As a destination for the brokering of cloud SaaS services in a two-sided marketplace for industry-vertical solutions; As a wholesale provider of tailored connectivity and supplementary services to a Virtual Operator that specializes in industry-vertical solutions; As a partner to a specialized SI that packages connectivity and supplementary services into an industry-vertical solution. In these options, it is apparent that to drive growth, service providers must become more than connectivity providers, supplying more of what enterprises need to effectively manage their businesses and take advantage of growing industry trends. This vision is becoming more tangible as developments in 5G continue to evolve, as with a next-gen core designed with a SBA based on cloud-native principles. Many cloud operational models will become available for deployment, helping CSPs to create logical “slices” that meet industry-specific SLAs for key performance indicators around latency, QoS, and others. The communications industry is starting to see further development toward application-specific networks or slices for more connected, secure, and smart end-to-end ecosystems. From those ecosystems, more tailored and dedicated solutions for various use cases and industry verticals will be possible. To that end, the survey showed that nearly one-third of respondents thought that they would need to forge new relationships and work together with industry specialists to capitalize on 5G. Additionally, 43 percent acknowledged that conversely, 5G would allow new entrants (e.g., vertical market players) to challenge the incumbent providers. This reflects a huge undertaking for service providers, which will need to adjust their goals and processes to become more attuned to the specific needs and regulations of the industries in which their enterprise customers operate. Standards and Open APIs will be a major component of how service providers create a repeatable and scalable way to address the needs of multifarious industries and organizations. CSPs in the survey identified the technologies they felt would be crucial in enabling an interoperable cloud ecosystem: Open APIs for functions like procurement, settlement, support and assurance between cloud services Industry standards for service functionality and capabilities Cloud brokering platforms that enable the rapid integration of SaaS services across multiple cloud infrastructures Open Source software to build the underlying cloud platform or services themselves There is convergence among some of the core networking standards, such as 3GPP, with IT principles. This has become a fundamental enabler to doing network slicing in a much more effective way by truly leveraging the flexibility, agility, and security of the cloud. Although open source serves foundational technology as well, it alone has not been enough to promote the interoperable cloud ecosystem the industry needs. Efforts around open APIs, like the ones promoted by the TM Forum and the Linux Foundation, will also become increasingly important for service providers to realize this vision. To find out more granular details about these and other topics covered in the study (security, modern BSS, DevOps, Cloud Native, among others), download the research here:

Heavy Reading’s “Future Networking Survey Report” gathered responses from 61 CSP decision makers around the world. Below are insights on what it reveals in terms of future network-enabled...


Say ‘Hello’ to Genesys-Oracle Partnership for Securing and Futureproofing Call Centers and CX

Oracle Communications has joined the Genesys Partner Network in order to enable highly secure, high-quality call centers that empower call center agents and help them exceed customer expectations at scale. By bringing together Genesys’ cloud-based and on-prem omnichannel customer experience and contact center solutions with Oracle Communications Enterprise Session Boarder Controllers (E-SBCs), Enterprise Operations Monitor and Fraud Monitor enterprises get a customer-experience solution that can address core KPI demands for Mean Time to Resolution (MTR) and First Call Completion (FCC) for both employee and customer satisfaction. The two companies will bring a multi-tiered approach to the three pillars of Call Center success: Security, Customer Experience and Futureproofing: Security: With the increase in global fraud call rates, it’s crucial that enterprises have the ability to respond within minutes to fraud incidents. Enterprises must be able to disable users and trunks, either on their Session Border Controllers, application servers, core network elements, or provisioning servers. Solutions must be purposefully designed for self-administration—purchase, provision and management of voice services anytime, anywhere with a simple-to-use web interface. Call Quality: Large companies typically experience five minutes of downtime/month, which can translate to a cost of $60 million/year. Enterprises have to ensure they deliver the same trusted, first-class communications across mobile as they do across fixed lines, requiring they plan, monitor, and optimize networks for real-time fault, configuration, performance, and route management. Critical will be end-to-end service monitoring to identify, troubleshoot, and resolve issues. They should also be able to add and manage voice services in a sustainable fashion, as well as support G.711 and Opus codecs for the highest call quality SIP trunking service. Futureproofing: Quality CX can drive up price premiums, and ensure the customer experience remains “human” with robust, user-friendly tools for personalized, seamless interactions across voice, video, chat, email, web, mobile, social, SMS and messaging channels. Enterprises have to be able to set-up, maintain and manage networks across branches, retail and countries in a consistent manner—with seamless integration of existing voice infrastructure end devices, including mobile phones. The combination of Oracle Communications eSBC and Enterprise Operations Manager gives enterprises an end-to-end view across SIP networks, helping them to plan, monitor and optimize networks for real-time fault, configuration, performance and route management. Those capabilities will combine with Genesys for G.711 and Opus codecs to assure the highest call quality SIP trunking services. To learn more about implementing strong security without compromising usability or performance, check out our whitepaper, webinar and case study. Also visit our Oracle Communications home page and subscribe to our Oracle Communications Blog.

Oracle Communications has joined the Genesys Partner Network in order to enable highly secure, high-quality call centers that empower call center agents and help them exceed customer expectations at...


Three ‘Best Practices’ for Building Out 4G and 5G Services as Cloud Native Evolves

In leveraging our experience building web scale cloud and services, we have not only been building software and using processes that work for cloud, but also seeing that in practice, just being cloud native is not enough to be successful in providing digital services.  There is more that we and other vendors can do to help CSPs mitigate the frustrations acknowledged in our previous blog about what cloud native is and how it must be built from actual experience with large clouds, accompanied by process changes. CSPs recognize it is critical that they make the transition so that their own networks leverage cloud technologies and processes in order to improve their operational capabilities and increase their service flexibility. But that alone will not suffice to address their overall business needs, nor will it address the fundamental pressures exerted on them. Beyond the cloud native technology that the communications industry is working to use for deployment models, there are crucial cloud-inspired lessons and practices CSPs can adopt to accelerate key benefits, such as: Extend their network and processes to include consumption of whole services in an open and automated fashion—This can greatly increase what they will be capable of, enabling CSPs to focus on their core strengths and value while leveraging and repackaging high-value services in ways that will delight their customers; Consume and integrate cloud services to augment their offerings—Doing this where it makes sense will address much of the current frustration that the CSPs are experiencing. This is a fundamentally different model, as it does not come with the operational burden and complexity of stitching together functional components that are built for different environments. That reduction in complexity results directly in cost savings, and an increase in deployment and development speed that drives innovation. Consuming slices and SaaS are important aspects that we cover in this webinar. Facilitate and participate the growth of smart digital ecosystems—CSPs can extend their network and business practices, allowing them to easily consume and integrate services, as well as provide their own services in new ways. This is critical and is the real driver for the other changes. With these practices, CSPs can successfully build out new 4G and 5G services while avoiding taxing their own cloud environments and reducing considerably the integration and operational pain they’d otherwise encounter. They can do this with minimal impact to their core networks and without integrating cloud native microservices (or any other buzzword-based software) into their specific core environments. The operational efficiency gained from taking the services approach, which allows software to be optimized for a specific cloud environment, can be substantial. Extending their network and business practices into ecosystems designed for simplified consumption and integration of services as described in the above practices takes this to the next level, enabling operators to move into vertical services and fully monetize their own value. CSPs are in a unique position, but they need to move to modern practices and services to take advantage. While working toward cloud native, it's imperative to move toward ecosystems of services, and to do so in parallel with changes in the core network and related practices. To learn more, you can arrange to meet at the upcoming 5G World event at booth 5G308, and read our new cloud native ebook.

In leveraging our experience building web scale cloud and services, we have not only been building software and using processes that work for cloud, but also seeing that in practice, just being cloud...


Choosing the Right SD-WAN for Multi-Cloud Enterprise Success

The WAN Edge is increasingly critical for cloud-based enterprise business applications. This critical network access point is continually shifting and the latest push to the cloud is causing disruption to reliable network transport in the Enterprise. Enterprises depend on their networks to generate valuable data and insights so as to avoid losing business to competitors due to poor network performance and user experience. Increasing amounts of digital data makes it all the more critical to minimize the potential problem of the WAN edge becoming the enterprise network choke point. Oracle recently collaborated with Zeus Kerravala at ZK Research to discuss what enterprises should do to alleviate their network traffic jams as more and more applications move off prem and into the cloud. Zeus confirms that cloud-based applications and business processes are set to overtake traditional on-prem solutions in 2019. In fact, the ZK Research 2019 Cloud Forecast validates the enterprise cloud dependence. This five-year forecast for cloud computing shows workloads in traditional data centers are on a sharp decline, with public and hybrid clouds ascending. In 2018, traditional on-premises data centers held 53 percent of workloads, while public and private cloud held a combined 47 percent. By the end of 2019, it is predicted traditional IT infrastructure will dip below 50 percent, and it will sit at 36 percent in 2022.  In three short years, public and private cloud combined will hold 64 percent of the market. Back to user and the enterprise WAN: Yes, networking connects users to applications, but applications were more centralized in the private data center era, and securely and reliably accessible via the enterprise’s private (expensive) MPLS network. Now, applications are distributed, and data is everywhere, yet user expectations of application performance have not changed – except perhaps to grow even greater. Digital businesses perform customer transactions in real-time. The enterprise WAN requires security, reliability, and QoE in order to meet these real-time requirements. As a result, the multi-cloud environment appears as one seamless network for all digital business transactions. It needs to be at least as good as the private WAN, private data center approach. Enter failsafe SD-WANs Why failsafe?  Because only failsafe SD-WANs deliver both non-real-time applications such as email, customer-relationship management (CRM) and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), and real-time applications including Voice over IP (VoIP), call centers as a service (CCaaS) and video— regardless of whether the SD-WAN is built on hybrid MPLS plus Internet connectivity or entirely over-the-top of Internet connections. Without failsafe SD-WAN technology, cloud migration efforts often fail, and return on investment (ROI) severely impacted. This brings us to a few closing business points in the ZK Research paper on gaining the most from SD-WAN: Customers require carrier-agnostic SD-WAN deployment flexibility. They also want a per-location choice of either a physical appliance—in a virtual form factor or deployed directly in the cloud—and consumable as OpEx or CapEx. ZK Research offers five cautions for buyers to ensure their multi-cloud enterprise success. Old decision criteria for network services, such as incumbency and market share, will not be enough in the multi-cloud era; Evaluators of network services must align their decision-making criteria with cloud enablers such as failsafe capabilities and cloud application performance; Network strategies must now change; In the cloud era, “good enough” is no longer good enough.  Businesses must consider the network a strategic cloud enabler; This isn’t your father’s IT environment, and it shouldn’t rely upon your father’s network.  For all ZK Research’s guidelines, please read the new “The Right SD-WAN” whitepaper and download the Oracle Communications eBook "10 Tips for Building a Failsafe Network."

The WAN Edge is increasingly critical for cloud-based enterprise business applications. This critical network access point is continually shifting and the latest push to the cloud is causing...

Digital Transformation

Top Takeaways from Digital Transformation World - Ecosystems, Blockchain, Cloud Native & More

In attending TM Forum's Digital Transformation World this year, there were subtle and not-so-subtle changes worth reflection, as this year’s Catalysts, keynotes and sessions talked of “transformation” but in a more grown up or advanced manner thanks to the actual 5G and IoT momentum on which we can all now build.  Below are some key takeaways: Digital Smart Ecosystems — the foundation for 5G-driven business models. For CSPs looking to capitalize on actual or impending 5G investments, digital ecosystems and the Internet of Everything (IoE) will help them extend their reach beyond vertically integrated companies toward partners that will help them drive innovation into emerging digital services. In fact, two of the Catalysts in which Oracle participated showcased what is possible in open and collaborative ecosystems — Zero Touch Partnering, where multiple service providers collaborated to offer and fulfill each other’s products using TM Forum Open APIs; and Smart City Ecosystem Enablement & Business Model where telcos generated smart-cities revenue using multi-sided business models. These catalysts and several of the sessions and discussions conveyed a subtle change of emphasis from “Is 5G a market reality?” to “What are the actual use cases and revenue-generating opportunities?” CSPs becoming digital. In terms of creating impactful digital offers, there was a heavy focus on CSPs becoming digital, including a full track called Digital Operator 2025 and sessions on CSPs creating offshoot/digital brands (e.g., Verizon/Visible, Videotron/Fizz), as well as the launch of startups and MVNOs branding themselves as “untelco,” (e.g., Japan’s Rakutan, which calls itself a “global innovation company”).  With established and emerging players alike, there is a shift of control to subscribers through digital tools that empower them to browse offers, order, manage and change services, track balances and provide feedback. This shift will require agile BSS/OSS and ideally systems that can scale to handle high volumes, as well as convergent charging to help operators avoid a digital dead end of limiting their growth potential. Blockchain — fostering trust and transparency. As established and new players become part of an expanding ecosystems, a great deal of trust will be necessary among partners, which made blockchain and AI popular subtopics, with traction across many industries, such as financial services, logistics, health care, and retail, among others. Cloud Native — what’s expected vs. what is available. As mentioned in last week’s blog, TIM’s Elisabetta Romano in her keynote and other operators at the show voiced concern that the market isn’t providing what operators need, namely cloud-native architectures and more agile and scalable solutions deployed on-prem or on public IaaS so that enterprise customers can manage upgrades, patches, and operations themselves. At Oracle, cloud native means faster development and deployment through DevOps and Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD) pipeline, but CSPs are approaching cloud native in different ways—some striving to be software companies in their own right, and others seeking to leverage the resources of their trusted suppliers—a topic we explore in a new white paper, eBook and blog. In this and all of the above topics, it is apparent that TM Forum and its membership is diversifying into areas adjacent to core CSP, and that all stakeholders are looking for ways to materially impact the way they think about their customers and business as they go digital. For more information about what Oracle Communications is offering and achieving with its customers, view recent press releases and customer wins here.  

In attending TM Forum's Digital Transformation World this year, there were subtle and not-so-subtle changes worth reflection, as this year’s Catalysts, keynotes and sessions talked of “transformation”...


Specialized Services for '5G-Ready' Enterprises Require Ecosystems & 5G Cores with Slicing Support

Increasingly, we are seeing demonstrations and trials and even real-world implementations of 5G’s potential marketplace impact: remote surgery using 5G; 5G autonomous cars; streaming video/ Virtual Reality for 3-D music and sports experiences, and more. While these technology demonstrations help to prove out the technical aspects of 5G, they do not necessarily prove out market readiness in different verticals for those types of services. They also are not pushing the readiness of the operators to support a range of new services, as they are making changes to radio and to the rest of their networks focused on the demonstrations, and not the value. In most cases, the effect is not yet revolutionary, as the service provider is still just a bit pipe— even if a “better” bit pipe—and the enterprises in many cases still ambivalent about which communications services and in what combinations will bring them meaningful value propositions. In order to add value, CSPs have to integrate into verticals seeking broader ecosystems and communications-driven digital enablement. They have to find a way to help them provide complete services and experiences to their customers. Digital transformation is the primary vehicle by which Customer Experience and Engagement is augmented, as 5G can foment rapid service deployment, flexible SLAs, ease of usage, ease of integration into broader services (technical and business ease, including support for multiple models). This can have important implications for the communications industry, as digital services are communications based, and CSPs can be the key to making those services easy to use and specialized enough to improve the user experience and drive up business value. A 5G Core + Slicing to Support Devices, Data & Specialization While we don’t know what the “killer use cases” for 5G are yet, we do know that communications services will be critical to every vertical industry and that 5G-driven ecosystems are the means by which companies will accelerate innovation. Operators are in a unique position as they can provide the feature rich and easily usable communications services vertical industries need, but only if they make the most of their core values as players in broader ecosystems with a 5G core and slicing support. As we’ve written previously, network slicing empowers CSPs to tailor connectivity services to the precise requirements of any given application, user, device or context—and when applied appropriately, SLAs may be attached that provide the building blocks of the business model. This is the means by which CSPs will participate in a range of ecosystems, moving them up the value chain across industries. For example, in game streaming, there can be real operator value through greater integration into an ecosystem. With specific slices and integration into CX and applications, a specialized version of a game streaming platform could be offered under an operator brand. Under the covers, the operator could provide much of the experience, including the basic portals for users and game providers, as well as own-branded monetization for the game providers. This service could run out of multiple cloud environments with third parties providing various parts of the streaming platform, back office, CX, slicing, and edge, and the mobile network operator providing the access and other technologies. The integration would be facilitated by the ecosystem, as shown in the image below, with each participant focused on the value it brings, while the operator provides the cohesive package to the users with great CX and rapid provisioning.   To succeed, there are many integration points and a need for an architecture that supports integration.  That can be accomplished with a 5G core with slicing support, and good API exposure and integration with other cloud environments. The point is that all good service environments will provide “5G building blocks” that help service providers move forward with both traditional mobile services as well as Enterprise services. The goal should be to add value to core services with good margins and operational efficiencies—something that will come with more automation in technology and business practices, and with a willingness to go outside your comfort zone to tap into and capitalize on the expertise of people outside your own industry. In other words, CSPs have to focus on curating world-class experiences for their customers, and must leverage the best that they and others bring to make this reality. To learn more, see our recent research report, “5G Ecosystems are Transforming the Enterprise—Are You Ready?  

Increasingly, we are seeing demonstrations and trials and even real-world implementations of 5G’s potential marketplace impact: remote surgery using 5G; 5G autonomous cars; streaming video/ Virtual...

Digital Transformation

Cloud Native and Microservices: Hallmarks of Next-Gen Applications

Last week, we talked about how being "cloud native" involves more than just virtualizing things to run in the cloud. And here we will look at why being “cloud native” is rapidly becoming a differentiator in enterprise applications. At the recent Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona, industry analysts and customers were assessing whether the software that will power 5G monetization and other functions is cloud-native and employing a microservices architecture. So what are they really asking? The software of yesteryear is monolithic in nature, meaning that all parts of the system are treated as a single object. This structure, or architecture, can be adequate for simple situations, but leads to many of the problems we all associate with enterprise-grade software development and deployment: long lead times to release new features, disconnects between the people doing the coding and those running it in data centers, security lapses, and difficulty in identifying and fixing bugs. In recent years, leading software providers moved away from this monolithic architecture and instead embraced the idea of building applications as a set of services, called microservices — each with its own job and defined way of interacting with other services. Let’s take monetization software as an example. One microservice might handle creating price plans while another handles invoice formatting and yet another handles payments. Each of these microservices are discrete parts that can be managed individually and orchestrated by technologies like Kubernetes to work together. This architecture yields significant benefits in enterprise-grade software, including: Speed and Agility. Customers can get software at a speed that can be orders of magnitude faster than traditional release schedules in a DevOps environment that enables continuous integration and continuous delivery; Innovation. Automation-driven faster release cycles of new software mean that customers quickly get the latest features and innovations in monetization, machine learning, adaptive intelligence and more; Scalability. Pay for only what you need and use. Suppose a customer has an especially high volume of transactions and needs to scale with charging capabilities, but not necessarily with taxation. Capacity can be added to deal with only the extra requirements, with the user charged only for whatever is increased. And even better, this can be handled dynamically with no human intervention; Availability. Unlike with monolithic software, microservices are designed to be easily and automatically replaced. If one component goes down, a new one is swapped in to do the same job without crashing the system. Walking the Walk Is Not Easy With all these benefits, it is no wonder everyone is looking for cloud-native applications. But it is actually a very significant undertaking for a software provider to shift from a monolithic to a microservices-based architecture. Industry analyst firm IDC projects that by 2022, 35 percent of all production apps will be cloud-native. That means that even three years from now, a majority will not yet have successfully made the shift to microservices. In the monetization and digital experience space, very few companies have successfully deployed fully cloud-native solutions. Fortunately, Oracle is ahead of this curve. Oracle Monetization Cloud is already architected to fully employ cloud-native principles. Deployed in a microservices architecture on Oracle’s Gen2 Cloud Infrastructure, it is delivering to communications and digital service providers around the world all the benefits of agility, innovation, scalability and availability. Read this position paper to learn more, including how Larry Ellison describes Oracle’s robots fighting cyber threats to deliver world-class security. Also read "Innovating Beyond Subscription" to see how you can implement creative pricing models through combinations of recurring, consumption-based, a la carte, bundled, discounted and tiered service options.

Last week, we talked about how being "cloud native" involves more than just virtualizing things to run in the cloud. And here we will look at why being “cloud native” is rapidly becoming...


Going Cloud Native: Building ‘True’ Cloud Models That Blend Process & People

Cloud Native involves a lot more than just virtualizing something and then running it in the cloud, so let’s cut through some hype and understand what cloud native will mean to the communications industry. CSPs want to successfully deploy services in the cloud to answer to the challenge of webscale companies. They are exploring how to make the most of 5G, IOT, autonomous, smart cities, AR/VR and other use cases. A key requirement will be cloud-native applications that improve the agility of network functions. As a first step, many CSPs are migrating applications to containers and Kubernetes to optimize operations and implement stronger security during migrations to public cloud. For these reasons, Oracle is heavily vested in open source-, community-based, container-native themes. As a Platinum member with Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) and champion of open source serverless platforms via its Fn Project, Oracle is building platforms that can be run anywhere–on any cloud or any on-prem environment. Because CSPs have different challenges around security, legacy, regulatory and other challenges, the freedom to choose is paramount. Additionally, Oracle is extending cloud-native approaches to new communities, like WebLogic and Java, using Kubernetes clusters to connect applications to microservices platforms, not to mention all that is being done around autonomous, self-driving/repairing databases. These investments by Oracle are now finding their way into the global business units that serve verticals looking for ways to fast track transformations. Reality Check The elephant in the room, however, is how to orchestrate such large quantities of containers and how to manage containers on multiple clouds. Oracle Communications is exploring how CNCF based open source software along with the principles of successful cloud-native operations can make cloud native computing pervasive for telecom. The future of cloud native in telecom revolves around four cloud characteristics: Each of the above is complex, and necessitates a rich ecosystem of services and technology to orchestrate, schedule, network, deploy, and maintain the cloud native software. Also required is a change in mindset about how services are built, and function. Oracle Communications’ cloud native environment Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) captures all four of the above rudiments. Built upon bare- metal-as-a-service infrastructure, it boasts a robust Kubernetes container management environment, complemented by key CNCF based backing services. It also provides a pipeline for developers designing, testing and building code all the way through to delivery, on a continuous basis. To learn more, go to our recent white paper, “A Cloud-Native Journey for Telecommunications,” which explores how microservices architecture and the concept of how a 12-factor application will empower developers to create software that is considered truly native to the cloud.  

Cloud Native involves a lot more than just virtualizing something and then running it in the cloud, so let’s cut through some hype and understand what cloud native will mean to the communications...


‘5G Realised’ Reveals What 5G Pioneers Have in Common with Black-Hole Scientists

Meaningful investment in 5G requires that industries, governments and suppliers believe in something they cannot yet see or even imagine. Think of the extraordinary scientific collaboration that led to the discovery last week of the supermassive M87 black hole—its existence known because of the shadow it cast, not for any light that could escape its gravitational pull or any understanding of the power held within. Its newly ascribed name, Pōwehi, means embellished dark source of unending creation. The parallel struck me as I thought about my time at 5G Realised last week in London, where key stakeholders explored the enormous theoretical and practical obstacles they must overcome to make 5G truly revolutionary and valuable to customers, organizations, and societies as a whole. We sought to reveal the practical side of 5G without the business-case distortions that have in the past made some telecom executives and investors balk at the capital requirements and, frankly, the “unknown” that comes with 5G. Most impressive was the manner in which “competitors” collaborated for a common goal, much like the scientists that created the Event Horizon “virtual” telescope that pooled the capacity of telescopes around the world to test Einstein’s theory of relativity. At the event, four of the United Kingdom’s most prominent operators—Telefonica, Three UK, BT Group and Vodafone UK—worked to make sense of 5G from an urban planning, environmental and capital cost point-of-view in the fireside chat “Realising 5G Services,” which I was privileged to moderate. During the discussion, Andrea Dona, head of Vodafone UK Networks, described how enhanced mobile broadband would make fixed wireless access a substitute for fixed broadband connectivity—the likely monetization model that will get things rolling and set the stage for the B2B2C and B2B models that will eventually emerge around 5G hot spots with an EMBB boost, not to mention the IoT and mission-critical control use cases that will have far-reaching B2B consequences. Three UK’s COO Graham Baxter offered insight into what the average Three UK customer’s usage might be in the future, citing Ofcom projections of 90GB per month by 2025. In preparation, he outlined how regulationss will impact investment in terms of access to fiber, planning permissions, mobile spectrum leases, and net neutrality decisions that affect 5G slicing and monetization capabilities. BT Group’s CTIO Howard Watson outlined how mobile subsidiary EE will switch on 5G services in 16 U.K. cities in 2019, and the overall vision to create “one smart network” that is always connected and always optimized through an evolutionary path from first extending IMS to BT and EE customers, to then switching on its 5G network, to IP voice and public WiFi “on the go,” and a new core in the next few years. Brendan O' Reilly, the CTO of Telefonica said that "collaboration" was critical for the rapid build and deployment of the network, and this meant collaboration among the operators, government, local authorities, and enterprise, and so far this collaboration is going very well. He also felt that aside form the enterprise and FMA, gaming and entertainment users would be among the early adapters. The willingness to share visions and journeys was not unique to European carriers, as I see U.S. carriers like AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint working together in the 5G realm through the 3GPP, ATIS, and CSRIC, to drive standards and momentum. Everyone realizes they can’t do this alone and the only way to accelerate 5G progress is to work together on spectrum, construction and network build outs in the urban areas that will be ground zero for the first 5G deployments. Those 5G use cases will depend on how well all members of the value chain work together to address key challenges: Infrastructure: how to have enough fixed wireless antennas to maintain line-of-sight with nearby cells for fixed 5G wireless, and the future of mobile 5G.  What’s the best way to set up “street furniture,” the cellular base stations on street lamps and utility poles that will make 5G viable without having to put cell sites every 600 feet? Spectrum: How much and where?  Just this week, controversy erupted when the White House and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced there’d be auctions in the 37, 39 & 47 GHz bands, only to have the FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel and many in the press contend that the “rest of the world” would be focused on mid-band airwaves (i.e., CBRS and C-Band spectrum) that are less susceptible to obstruction by buildings, trees, people and even air. Leadership: Who will be driving the vision—will it be the CSPs that bring use cases to the industries most hungry for innovation, or will it be certain industries whose needs catalyze disruption enough to spark real 5G use cases of import? One of the key values of 5G Realised was the tangible effort to connect those who want 5G sooner rather than later with those who can actually supply it. All who attended worked to put aside the unrealistic and explore more of the pragmatic in terms of where 5G would first work and the use cases that would really be viable in gaming, energy, security, financial services, agriculture, health, automotive, transportation and other industries. Though leaders across industries admit they don’t really know what the true impact of 5G will be for them, they do know they have real problems to solve and real pressure to create new revenues. There would be no Uber, Instagram, Snapchat, Lyft or Airbnb today without 4G, and none of us thought of it before. And just like the discovery of Pōwehi, the value of the 5G journey is in what we don’t yet know. Related Content: On-Demand Webinar: The Potential of Network Slicing in 5G White Paper: 5G Core: How To Get There Blog: We Must All Push for Worldwide 5G Security Now  

Meaningful investment in 5G requires that industries, governments and suppliers believe in something they cannot yet see or even imagine. Think of the extraordinary scientific collaboration that led...

Customer Experience

Are You Ready for Digital Customer Engagement?

  Customer experience is at the heart of digital transformation. Today’s consumers engage brands electronically – on the web, using mobile apps, and through social sites. But is a voice-centric contact center standing in the way as you embrace digital innovation? Nemertes Research recently talked about the diminishing role of contact centers, and some of the questions organizations can ask to assess where they are with digital customer experience, such as: Do you offer a mobile app that connects your customer to the right service associate? Have you added contextual chat, voice, or video to your website? Can you proactively engage customers across the buyer journey? Can you interact with customers via their preferred channels? Can you intelligently upsell and cross-sell based on past transactions and business insights? Can your associates share and annotate screens to assist customers and spur product adoption? If the answer to many of the above-questions was “no,” then it’s time to accept that you can no longer rely on the patterns that worked yesterday, and certainly not yester-year! Customers expect you to know exactly what they want and how to deliver it. All generations of people now interact with sales and support professionals through an array of channels—chat, voice, and video. And they expect the experience to be meaningful and satisfying. According to an Oracle Communications survey of 5000+ consumers, 95% of consumers today are mobile and 70% are highly engaged through their mobile applications. This creates complexity for organizations, as the customer journey is no longer linear, as it used to be. The use of smart applications and mobile devices to research, review, purchase and get customer service now triggers more erratic or unpredictable behaviors and choices. So how can organizations meet their customers at critical junctures, especially as the number of touchpoints and preferred channels increase? Two Major Approaches to Digital Transformation According to Mark Mortensen of ACG Research, there are two approaches to digital transformation: an outside-in approach, where a company digitalizes the interactions between itself and its customers using digital-first, digital-only and ominichannel options to go after more revenue, and greater customer satisfaction; or the inside-out model of getting infrastructure in place that transforms the back office so that the company begins faster, agile and cheaper to transact with. Both are hard to do, and most companies ultimately choose one or the other to get the ball rolling. A good plan is to take a page from digital natives like Netflix and Uber, which excel at carving out any inconveniences a person might encounter in the customer lifecycle by very frequently evaluating business models and the technologies and trends that will help them build more satisfying and enduring relationships. Keep in mind these “innovators” started as small disruptors who did NOT get the “right idea” right away. They worked at it and made sometimes painful investments in infrastructure, processes and culture to ensure their evolution was smooth to the customers. Oracle Live Experience customer TelkomTelstra said in a recent video that if a customer has a single fail when trying something new, it is likely that customer will simply go to another provider that fulfills his or her expectations. That’s why the company’s transformation involves flexible business models powered by small APIs that can be rapidly implemented on existing customer infrastructure and applications — without major investment in skilled developers, infrastructure and applications. The Next Step: Cultural Shift As organizations figure out how to move the contact center from cost center to a revenue generator and loyalty driver, they can simultaneously think of how to incentivize even their least digital customers to try new engagement channels, rewarding them for trying something new, as well as giving them an “out” if something new isn’t working for them. Most people won’t take kindly to being driven down a “customer journey” they didn’t choose, as happens when they get stuck in a process and have to search for an 800 number once they reach a point of frustration. For customers not familiar with AI chatbots and video chat, there can be a step-wise transition. Modern customer engagement strategy can aim to provide proactive engagement and transformative experience, moving customers at their own pace beyond the contact center with small steps at first. And as multiple satisfactory experiences are created, they will be more likely to try new things. Companies can offer incentives that reward customers for interacting digitally-i.e., free music downloads, event tickets, digital movie rentals or eBooks. Think of how digital CX innovators are doing things and adopt what you can. Look at Oracle customer Marriott, which is setting the pace for digital in the hospitality industry, using digital rewards to delight customers and make them promoters of their brand. By creating high-touch experiences, Marriott is enhancing, not replacing, the experience customers expect by personalizing experiences, especially for customers that want mobile check in and check out, two-way digital conversations, connections of their personal devices to in-room entertainment, or mobile requests for food and beverage. As another example, Insurance companies can streamline operations, improving efficiencies and scaling their business, while also providing a compelling customer experience. Watch how digital insurance companies can deliver zero-touch claims processing, as well how banks are delivering in-app banking experiences on mobile devices. To learn more about modernizing customer engagement for the mobile generation, download our new eBook.  

  Customer experience is at the heart of digital transformation. Today’s consumers engage brands electronically – on the web, using mobile apps, and through social sites. But is a...

Digital Transformation

CSPs Uniquely Positioned to Enable Comms-Driven Digital Ecosystems-But How to Go About It?

When launching digital services, organizations have to evaluate the ways in which they handle customer acquisition, engagement, service delivery, and monetization across the social-to-cash-to-care lifecycle. Digital services have shown immense traction and benefits across vertical markets as they increasingly prove themselves as the way forward. These services are all about tapping into and connecting with customers through a broader range of more flexible, personalized and customized services. To fluidly connect people and process across ever-expanding boundaries in digital services, it’s necessary that enterprises and their communications providers digitally transform in their own right—continually introducing more robust and flexible communications as the underpinning of evolving digital services and the ecosystems that will enable them. Communications is becoming increasingly fundamental to digital services for not only connectivity, but also increasingly mobile, sensor- and device-driven, real-time services that demand and generate incredible amounts of data. That will uniquely position telecommunications service providers as the only ones in these ecosystems capable of connecting key stakeholders and managing the innate complexity of having so many comms, IT, operational and business pieces working together in increasingly smart interconnected ecosystems. It’s through ecosystems that the best services will be provided, integrating the unique capabilities and position of the CSPs with a range of services for increasingly higher value verticalized offers. The Challenge: there is no one way to do this! To fully capitalize on the opportunity to become the horizontal underpinning of digital services and ecosystems, as well as to provide increasingly integrated vertical offerings, CSPs are setting the stage for working in new Cloud- and Edge-driven ecosystems.  This is not a simple proposition as there are a number of different approaches to cloud deployments, including public and private clouds, edges, and hybrid approaches.  These may all be used in different flavors and combinations depending on the providers, ecosystems and use cases. The maturation of IoT and the move toward 5G each has its own implications as well. Many CSPs have been building up private clouds to address their own deployment needs and to move into digital services. There are some common approaches to this that are evolving to be more Cloud Native. Challenges abound, however, with multiple environments within these clouds and a range of complicated orchestration that is struggling to serve business needs.  Time-proven approaches of standing up networks out of individual boxes for a limited set of use cases do not scale rapidly enough as ecosystems rapidly evolve along with their cloud, and now edge technologies. 5G and SBA, enough? The changes in 5G introduce some relief, as a move towards a much more cloud-friendly approach gives rise to the Service-Based Architecture that allows for a better fit into cloud and edge environments, not to mention more rapid evolution of the building blocks of the services provided by these networks.  Though it’s an improvement, it does fall short in several ways. For one, these changes need to fold into the need of operators to participate in and host ecosystems around more integrated services.  That, in turn, requires a different mindset than building networks only out of boxes and a move towards providing and integrating higher value services using the advantages of ecosystems and clouds.  For example, the value in the network slices popularized by 5G, and starting to be deployed on 4G, is not just in the specialization potential.  It is just as much in the ability to bundle up entire slices as offerings and realize the reduction in complexity and operations that can bring, along with the possibility of better integration in to vertical services and ecosystems. As an industry, we must continue down this path and work to take advantage of communications as the underpinning of these ecosystems. To learn more about ecosystems and integrating services via marketplaces, listen to our new webinar “5G and Cloud—Accelerating New Growth Opportunities for Operators.” Also read our new white paper “A Cloud-Native Journey for Telecommunications” to see how practitioners responsible for network-oriented applications are trying to move to the “web services” model.      

When launching digital services, organizations have to evaluate the ways in which they handle customer acquisition, engagement, service delivery, and monetization across the...

UC and Contact Center

The ‘Darlings’ of Enterprise Connect were UCaaS, SD-WAN, & Artificial Intelligence

During my many years attending Enterprise Connect 2019, I have noticed there are either dramatic shifts or incremental changes that are showcased each year. This year was one of incremental change, and—in sharp contrast to Mobile World Congress a few weeks ago—5G was not the darling of the event, as four other areas seemed to steal the show: Cloud-based UC, Collaboration and CC: Since Enterprise Connect is really more about communications than networking, it had a strong focus on unified communications (UC) and the Contact Center (CC), with everything becoming available “as-a-service” through the cloud. Whether UCaaS or CCaaS or Communications PaaS, it was apparent that everyone had embraced comms in the cloud, and subscriptions to the cloud as opposed to anything targeting on-prem sales. The focus was UC&C (collaboration) that would integrate different elements of comms for faster, better, cheaper collaboration, culminating with in-app communications that would capitalize on real-time video and audio communications integrated into mobile, cloud, and desktop apps. While most vendors were showing they were “all in” with cloud, Oracle Communications also felt it was important to emphasize to customers that they could extend the life of their on-prem telephony infrastructure as they evolved toward cloud-driven audio, video, mobile and Internet-driven capabilities. A case in point was our announcement about fortifying Microsoft Teams with our Session Border Controller, showing a hybrid option for taming complexity and managing security across chat, meetings, and calling as enterprises evolve. That would give orgs Teams features while maintaining their on-prem voice, which they could augment with cloud-based audio/video collaboration and messaging. SD-WAN: As enterprises move their real-time communications to the cloud through Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS), with packets running over the Internet, it will be SD-WAN that ensures QoE over the network, no matter where their users are. And the more real-time communications move over to the cloud, the more organizations will need border security. Enterprises will need more secure pipes for apps and services being delivered to users. That means not only generic security, but also app-level security. That’s where our enterprise portfolio shines, and that’s what we were really demonstrating at Enterprise Connect—our SBCs as the voice edge of an enterprise network and our Failsafe SD-WAN technology as the data edge of the enterprise network. Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning & Advanced Data Analytics: As evidenced by the five keynotes, the combination of AI, ML and Advanced Data Analytics are already enhancing employees’ interactions. We saw, for example, how real-time translation during conference calls could improve collaboration and productivity among employees speaking different languages. On top of that, adding context about each person on a conference call could give each individual insight about his or her relation to others on the call—giving a better understanding of past interactions and the potential for future synergies and interactions. It was refreshing to see practical demonstrations of how these technologies are transforming customer engagement. Virtual assistants and bots were already cutting out most if not all extraneous questions so that human agents and associates could focus on higher-value engagement with customers—driving contact centers toward the profit side of the spectrum as opposed to cost. As enterprises get better at understanding and even predicting customer behavior (and their preferences around channels, devices, locations, etc.). it will be contextual insight that informs companies on how to engage increasingly mobile and demanding customers throughout their engagement lifecycle to drive up loyalty and sustainable revenues. 5G-driven mobile data capabilities: Though most enterprises at the show were not really talking about 5G and IoT, many analysts present were discussing how 5G speeds and lower latencies would be game changers for enterprises in the not too distant future. Improved network capacity and performance will inevitably mean happier customers. SD-WAN will play a critical role in ‘gluing’ 5G with other existing network access technologies like MPLS and Broadband Internet. We have recently explored the potential of network-slice-as-a-service and other exciting opportunities 5G will bring to enterprises. To learn more about how to transition enterprise networks, explore the findings of our new research about managing enterprise networks, and watch our recent Webcast with Oracle Communications Senior Vice President and General Manager Doug Suriano, Oracle Communications Worldwide Vice President Vin La Rocca, and Oracle Communications Vice President, Products and Co-Founder Talari Networks John Dickey.

During my many years attending Enterprise Connect 2019, I have noticed there are either dramatic shifts or incremental changes that are showcased each year. This year was one of incremental change,...


Cracking Down on ‘Call Spoofing’ With STIR/SHAKEN & Next-Gen Call Authentication

Most people today know the stress of either getting tricked by an illegal call or the inconvenience of having their phone numbers erroneously identified as “spam” by blocking apps. Unwanted calls in the form of illegal and spoofed robocalls have become the FCC's top consumer complaint. Illegal robocalls are also the prevailing complaints for Europe’s OFCOM and UK ICO, as well as Canada’s CRTC. Call “spoofing” — the practice of deliberately falsifying information transmitted to caller ID displays or tricking someone into giving away valuable personal information — has become so prevalent that FCC Chairman Pai this past November demanded that CSPs adopt a robust call authentication system to combat illegal caller ID spoofing, threatening that the agency would intervene if carriers didn’t commit to a solution. As a follow up, the FCC this month called on all in the industry to "catch up" so that regulatory intervention wouldn’t be necessary in light of this heightening epidemic. Heeding the call of both the FCC and their consumers, many carriers have begun researching how to best implement ATIS’ STIR/SHAKEN standards and solutions. ATIS’ and the SIP Forum’s publication of the Signature-based Handling of Asserted Information Using toKENs (SHAKEN) and the Secure Telephone Identity Revisited (STIR) standards provide a framework of interconnected standards intended to help carriers digitally validate the handoff of phone calls as they travel through interconnected phone networks. The hope is that by having originating carriers affirm caller IDs as “legitimate” and by having those caller IDs further validated by other carriers before reaching consumers, the level of confidence that verified calls are indeed legitimate will go up, restoring trust among consumers, and helping legitimate businesses regain one of the most tried-and-true marketing tools in phone-based communications with potential or existing customers. Call Authentication in the Age of the Dynamic Reputation Database To keep up with the criminals’ adaptability, STIR/SHAKEN solutions must be robust, flexible and rapidly extensible through an application delivery model that enables CSPs to deploy standards-compliant functionalities on day one. They must have the ability to alter applications rapidly, with feature enhancements deployable in weeks or months, not quarters or years.   Oracle Communications has achieved all three with its next-gen call authentication solution, which runs STIR/SHAKEN components on carrier-grade platforms and extensible technology, integrating with licensed and long-proven components: Oracle Commerce Cloud (OCC) Applications; Oracle Communications Converged Application Server (OCCAS Middleware); Oracle Key Vault (OKV) and Oracle Communications User Data Repository (UDR); as well as additional platform and application support from MyOracle Support and the Oracle Communications Consulting application delivery model, which can triage and respond in accordance with SLAs. The OCCAS Middleware delivers feature-rich SIP and Web applications like the STIR/SHAKEN secure telephone identity (STI-AS/STI-VS). As a robust development toolkit, OCCAS enables applications to natively support SIP, REST, JSON, SOAP, LDAP, and JDBC — scaling horizontally, and deployable as a virtual machine or Bare Metal. It’s also important to note that OCCAS is extensible so that it can be central to multi-analytics capabilities, which means it can integrate with a cloud-based, third-party nuisance analytics database. In such a case, it would help pull nuisance analytics and push feedback. The Oracle Key Vault (OKV) is a purpose-built hardened appliance that is well suited to storing private and sensitive data.  Finally, Oracle’s “on-demand development as a service” changes the traditional feature delivery model by removing the concept of a request for enhancement (RFE) back log from the start and empowers CSPs to rapidly deploy feature enhancements. All of these components comprise a solution that provides STIR SHAKEN “Caller-ID Attestation,” ensuring originating operators can validate caller identity, and inserting a signed “Identity” header into SIP INVITE messages. “Signing” is done with a certificate issued to the origination operator and terminating operators are then able to validate the signature and take appropriate action based on the results. Inter-operator trust can therefore be established though certificate chains. To learn more about how STIR/SHAKEN runs on Oracle, go to this new video, and to find out more contact us.

Most people today know the stress of either getting tricked by an illegal call or the inconvenience of having their phone numbers erroneously identified as “spam” by blocking apps. Unwanted calls in...


Top-10 Ways a Failsafe SD-WAN Delivers Better QoE - Part 2

In the first half of our series on how a Failsafe SD-WAN enables superior Quality of Experience (QoE), we highlighted five specific benefits of failsafe SD-WAN technology. Each of those five SD-WAN capabilities contributes to better real-time experiences for enterprise end users: Enabling MPLS-class failsafe technology. Facilitating better access to SaaS. Leveraging techniques for more intelligent routing. Synergy with Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) solutions. Combination of QoE with Network Quality of Service. There's still plenty of ground to cover on the different ways an SD-WAN solution powers the real-time enterprise. Let's go right into the next five entries on our list, starting with the most talked-about QoE benefits of all: SD-WAN's real-time impact on voice and video. 6. Traffic shaping for videoconferencing By the early 2020s, video will constitute a supermajority of all network traffic, up from the already-considerable share it accounted for during the 2010s. Unlike TCP apps, enterprise videoconferencing services are real-time applications requiring significant bandwidth and strict requirements in terms of minimal packet loss and jitter. Failsafe SD-WAN technology allows network managers to augment or replace low-bandwidth, expensive MPLS circuits with high-bandwidth inexpensive Internet links, and all while delivering the necessary technology for network bandwidth management via techniques like traffic/packet shaping, packet replication and Inbound Multisource QoS. This means video is prioritized and runs successfully, without adversely affecting QoE for other applications that share the same WAN. 7. Crisper, more reliable VoIP quality On paper, VoIP seems like a must-have for any organization wanting to leave behind its costly and inflexible PBX system.  Enterprises also want to ensure high-quality voice support for their increasingly distributed teams. In practice, though, there are often barriers to success, including inconsistent service from the locally available ISPs, which can lead to choppy call quality. A proper Failsafe SD-WAN implementation constantly measures path quality and sends performance-sensitive traffic like VoIP and video down the best links available at any given moment. It will even offer replication of VoIP calls on two different paths to ensure platinum-quality voice even in the face of network problems on more than one connection. Failsafe SD-WAN technology turns problematic VoIP implementations into a reliable real-time communications offering, in a way that SD-WAN solutions lacking such technology simply cannot. 8. Streamlined WAN management SD-WAN delivers a better experience not only for end users of services like video and VoIP but also for the administrators who configure and manage the network. Features such as zero-touch provisioning (ZTP), centralized management and web-based consoles allow administrators to make changes to global network configurations with just a few clicks.  Easier management reduces the chances of configuration errors that cause problems with the WAN. A Failsafe SD-WAN goes a step further, making the network fault-tolerant even to configuration errors elsewhere on the network. The automated processes and ease-of-use of managing SD-WAN tools are big improvements from the days of more manual network operations. 9. Cloud-based network security In MPLS WANs, creating a secure connection to the cloud often came at the cost of QoE.  Backhauling traffic to a data center or HQ across thin MPLS links created a noticeable hit to network and application performance. Additionally, fully distributing NGFW (Next-Generation FireWall) network security functionality to all locations proved expensive in terms of both CapEx and OpEx. SD-WANs solve these problems through integrations with cloud-based network security services such as Zscaler and Palo Alto GlobalProtect.  Beyond providing a robust security stack within a direct-to-cloud gateway, cloud security gains the elasticity, flexibility, ease of management and ability to add new security services that cloud-based network security-as-a-service offers. 10.QoS + QoE, revisited We'll end this post like we ended part one, with a look at QoE vs QoS. The QoS capabilities of an SD-WAN, as ZK Research founder and principal analyst Zeus Kerravala points out, are about more than the prioritization of real-time traffic. If delivered with Failsafe SD-WAN technology, they also enable features such as Inbound Multisource QoS that enables bandwidth reservation and ensures more predictable and reliable performance of both TCP and real-time traffic. That is true even with shared inbound Internet links, which allows enterprise to safely leverage Internet links for real-time and mission-critical interactive traffic. Want to learn more about SD-WAN and QoE?  Please review our FAQ, opt in for future Oracle SD-WAN updates or request a demo to learn more about how Oracle delivers Failsafe SD-WAN.

In the first half of our series on how a Failsafe SD-WAN enables superior Quality of Experience (QoE), we highlighted five specific benefits of failsafe SD-WAN technology. Each of those five SD-WAN...


Sneak-Peek of Oracle Communications at Enterprise Connect: SD-WAN, E911 & More

Next week kicks off Enterprise Connect 2019, for which Oracle Communications is not only a Platinum sponsor but also an active participant in sessions covering SD-WAN, security and compliance, E911 and unified communications, contact centers, and customer experience. On March 18, from 1:00-1:45, Oracle Communications will have subject matter experts speaking in two concurrent sessions: Communications Hacks: Sources and Solutions As part of the Security and Compliance Track, this session focuses on call centers and whether they are becoming the main target for toll fraud. Our own Rajat Gopal, senior director product management and strategy, will join a panel discussion about security architectures and what enterprise IT departments can do about SIP access attacks, telephony denial of service (TDoS) and the emerging variations on legacy security threats. Attendees will gain a better understanding of the security approaches required to stay ahead of threats. Some key questions the panel will answer: Is toll fraud growing as a problem, even as long-distance telephony declines? What kind of SIP-based attacks are most prevalent? What impact are TDoS attacks having? What should Session Border Controllers and other devices be able to do? How can employees be better trained to reduce risks? Meeting the E911 Challenge: Under the Unified Communications Track, Andrew Gottlieb, vice president, SD-WAN Solutions, Oracle Communications, will take part in a panel that will address 911 strategy, and how to maintain accurate 911 information in a multi-vendor environment, on premises and in the cloud, while implementing features such as the ability to notify security desks of 911 calls, call recording, and misdial prevention. Key questions the panel hopes to address include: How to identify a caller’s location and route that call to the proper public safety answering point (PSAP)? How can UC architects manage E911 location in wireless and softphone-based environments? How to best track user locations and what to do with emergency location tracking information provided by Apple and Google? What happens to E911 location information when moving to the cloud? Deploying Failsafe SD-WANs for Contact Centers On day one, from 6:10PM – 6:30 PM, Oracle Communications will have a  Contact Center and Customer Experience presentation in EC Theater 2200. Oracle SD-WAN experts will explain how to improve traffic reliability while lowering costs. The focus will be MPLS-class reliability and application QoE for both hybrid and all-Internet WANs, delving into both virtual- and cloud platforms to deliver UCC, Data-Center apps, and reliable mission critical real-time communications —even when networks fail or are compromised. The presentation will cover questions such as: How can enterprise WAN managers and CIOs work with limited IT resources in remote locations? How can managers feel secure replacing time-tested MPLS-based solutions with unpredictable Internet connections? How can WAN administrators avoid having to map applications to network connections on a per-session basis? We hope to see you next week in Orlando at booth 1619—stop by for a demo and set up a meeting with one of our Oracle Communications team members! Additionally, we look forward to seeing those who will be attending  our Enterprise Customer Advisory Board event, held Thursday, March 21st at the Gaylord Palms Convention Center. For further reading in preparation of what you will experience at the event, go to the  Oracle  + Talari Networks blog page for a comprehensive look at SD-WANs; download this recent Nemertes UC Security Whitepaper, “What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You"; and see our Webinar “Is Your IP Telephony Network Vulnerable?”      

Next week kicks off Enterprise Connect 2019, for which Oracle Communications is not only a Platinum sponsor but also an active participant in sessions covering SD-WAN, security and compliance, E911 an...


10 Ways a Failsafe SD-WAN Delivers Better QoE - Part 1

A few years ago, SD-WANs were innovative technical concepts with limited adoption. Not anymore. Growth of SD-WAN solutions is now escalating along a hockey stick-shaped trajectory.  Initially slow trial-balloon enterprise adoption has been followed by a rapid increase in investment. That said, not all SD-WAN solutions are created equally. Many are just better network management tools. Only a tiny number offer failsafe SD-WAN technology, helping get your traffic where you want it to go. With that in mind, let's focus on a main reason for choosing SD-WAN: better support for real-time operations across the enterprise. The notion of the real-time enterprise dates back to the early 2000s, when Gartner defined it as an organization that used up-to-date information to streamline its business functions. Real-time technologies like VoIP, videoconferencing and UCaaS, as well as other mission-critical enterprise applications, have helped turned this concept into a reality. End-users have high expectations for instantaneous application service and responsiveness. An unreliable network connection to an echoing VoIP call or interactive application – whether that application is SaaS, hosted in the cloud or at a private data center – will not only feel out-of-place, it will drive them away and lower productivity. Real-time customer experiences require the superior Quality of Experience (QoE) that a failsafe SD-WAN solution delivers. With that in mind, here are 10 of the top ways a failsafe SD-WAN platform boosts QoE across the network, starting with these five to whet your appetite, and then five more in a subsequent post: 1. MPLS-class high availability and QoE MPLS has long been the go-to option as the WAN architecture that delivers high availability together with predictable application performance (a.k.a. QoE). A failsafe SD-WAN provides these same benefits and many others, whether augmenting or replacing MPLS with inexpensive Internet connections, with a more cost-effective, flexible and carrier-agnostic solution. A failsafe SD-WAN harnesses the full aggregated bandwidth of the network and leverage multiple types of transport, including broadband, while also making real-time experiences more reliable. 2. Superior Cloud and SaaS access Cloud access and SaaS applications are integral to real-time experiences such as document collaboration among internal users, or chat-based call center engagement with external customers. MPLS WANs never excelled at cloud access, but failsafe SD-WANs do, through more varied connectivity options and the ability to connect to the cloud points of presence and SaaS using the same failsafe technology connecting private locations. 3. Truly intelligent traffic forwarding As WANs evolve, ensuring reliable performance for real-time applications like VoIP and video will sometimes require forwarding traffic across dissimilar link types.  For example, a failsafe SD-WAN can instantly determine when it's OK to split a session across multiple links, delivering predictable, superior performance.  Failsafe SD-WANs move far beyond limitations of simple load balancing that often lead to poor QoE thanks issues like excessive out-of-order packets and TCP retransmissions. 4. Real UCaaS Unified communications as-a-service (UCaaS) achieved liftoff in the late 2010s as many organizations transitioned from their premises-based phone systems, ditching costly PBXes for more feature-rich hosted and cloud-based alternatives. RingCentral/Oracle customer RTI discussed this migration in a recent webinar.  UCaaS is a particularly great vehicle for enhanced customer care and remote team collaboration. A failsafe SD-WAN is the perfect complement to UCaaS thanks to multi-link connectivity with high QoE. 5.QoE with bi-directional, end-to-end QoS QoE and Quality of Service (QoS) go hand in hand. Whereas QoE is what the end user actually feels, QoS is the behind-the-scenes real-time network counterpart, referring to the performance of packet flows across the WAN. Routers and WAN Optimization devices have always been able to do outbound QoS on a WAN link  Failsafe SD-WAN technology performs continuous, unidirectional measurement of all traffic between locations, measures latency, jitter and packet loss and enables not merely outbound QoS, but end-to-end QoS, including otherwise almost-impossible to achieve QoS on shared inbound WAN links, and thus  can enables policies to ensure that QoS enforcement align with real-time requirements. Stay tuned for part two of this series where we'll cover five more ways a failsafe SD-WAN delivers real-time QoE.  In the meantime, please review our FAQ, opt in for future Oracle SD-WAN updates or request a demo to learn more about how Oracle delivers failsafe SD-WANs.

A few years ago, SD-WANs were innovative technical concepts with limited adoption. Not anymore. Growth of SD-WAN solutions is now escalating along a hockey stick-shaped trajectory.  Initially slow...


We Must ‘All’ Push for Worldwide 5G Security NOW

The United States and China are racing towards 5G, and subsequent advances in AI, ML, IoT, robotics, autonomous, and quantum computers. However, there is a balance to strike between speed of innovation and security as we transition from 4G to 5G. Security encompasses the network itself (the RAN and CORE), the application layer, and the devices connecting to those networks. Where security used to be layered in “after the fact” we all know that with 5G it must be built in from the ground up. The influence we as a nation, and foreign countries, have over 5G standards will have wide-ranging impact as 5G is like nothing we have ever seen before. After decades of trying, 5G represents the first true convergence of IT technologies and telecoms business—making SS7, SIP and Diameter relics of the past as truly cloud-based, software-based data centers come into replace the Central Office. Our decades of lessons around SS7 and Diameter taught us that it’s not the technology that is the problem, but rather the partners we “trust” and to which we connect that can prove themselves to be untrustworthy. Many show themselves to be complicit, providing access to rogue companies and actors, which demands a re-think about network boundaries as we develop 5G. Currently, the work is falling squarely on the 3GPP SA WG 3, whose 3GPP TS 33.501 is the first 5G spec to come from the collaboration of industry, which worked with the GSMA to address issues like session hijacking, network spoofing and security architecture and procedures for 5G systems. We all want to get there fast, but we have to build in security and know that the standards are complete before we open up catastrophic vulnerabilities—catastrophic to not only individuals, but to industry, government and societies as a whole. It will be another year to year and a half before release 16 will be done, but an amazing amount of work has been done in release 15.  We focused on the 5G radio so that first 5G spectrum would work on existing 4G networks, and with the next release, we can look at the core network functionality, and defining things like congestion control and other basic fundamentals. There is yet more standards work underway, focusing on the tools and security controls that should be built into 5G design specifications in order to ensure 5G networks and devices are sufficiently secure from their inception. Consider that your connected toothbrush doesn’t need to have the same level of security as your pacemaker, so there has to first be classification of devices to ensure the most critical get the security treatment they demand.  That is something ATIS,for example, has been very active in when it comes to 5G security requirements.   The U.S. market is an anomaly in that it has as many as 400+ telephone companies—some with less than 1,000 subscribers—who will sometimes choose to do what’s fastest or cheapest rather than what’s most secure. As a result, it’s very important that not only the “big 4” telcos commit to 5G security, but that all of the small- to mid-sized telcos do so as well. It’s everyone’s responsibility to become well educated about how existing vulnerabilities will affect not only 5G, but even existing 3G and 4G networks. Recently I attended the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) panel “Mitigating Security Risks to Emerging 5G Networks” as Chairman of the Network Security Working Group of the Communications Security Reliability and Interoperability Council (CSRIC). I was joined by security experts from AT&T, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. State Department, and FCC Chairman Jessica Rosenworcel delivered the keynote. She noted “these are interesting times” in that they represent the best option for making sure equipment manufacturers, CSPs, government agencies and consumers think about how to: Build security into devices; Implement security practices for the entire lifecycle of equipment; Educate IT and business leaders, as well as consumers about “cyberhygiene”; Ensure compliance to best practices for security; Establish a common language for managing risk. During the CSIS talk, Rosenworcel referred to the race to 5G as a microcosm for the broader debate about global leadership and economic security. And because it is the FCC that will have to license the millions of devices that come with the rise in 5G and the IoT, Rosenworcel urged that all of us consider some salient challenges and questions, such as: With every device emitting a radio frequency passing through the FCC, what role should the agency play when issuing licenses for public airways in terms of encouraging service providers and manufacturers to comply with security best practices? What level of disclosure should there be around security practices for the full lifecycle of equipment? Can there be a common language instituted for managing risk—across industry, government and different sectors? What can be done to evangelize better consumer cyberhygiene (i.e., when downloading software upgrades, when assessing connection security in cases of unlicensed airwaves)? With these questions looming, it is important that all stakeholders join forces, as did AT&T, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. State Department, Oracle and the FCC during the CSIS event. With Mobile World Congress coming to a close, and other events coming up, like TM Forum’s Digital Transformation World, we should continue to make the impact of nations’ decisions on 5G security a critical issue, and all should join forces to educate consumers, enterprises, governments and industries overall of the what breaches in IoT and 5G devices, networks and infrastructure could mean. It’s also extremely important that government agencies continue to work with leaders in the industry to address the risks posed by those suppliers’ who do “on site” development and customizations in ways that are risky to the greater whole who stand to otherwise benefit from all that 5G has to offer. For example, the work by the DHS’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to issue alerts and educational materials will help guide IT service providers and customers. To watch CISA’s most recent webinars, go here. Also, look at the this video “Securing the Network” about how to protect yourself as network virtualization creates a larger attack surface for cyber-criminals.

The United States and China are racing towards 5G, and subsequent advances in AI, ML, IoT, robotics, autonomous, and quantum computers. However, there is a balance to strike between speed of...


Three Observations on the 2019 SD-WAN Outlook

By now, you may have already read a few takes on the road ahead for SD-WAN in 2019, and how that squares with what happened in 2018. We're going to take a slightly different approach to this annual tradition. It is February already after all.  In this article, instead of making predictions – which are difficult and rarely age well – here are three questions and observations about SD-WAN solutions.  Based on customer input, we'll expand on these possibilities for how they might evolve from 2018 to 2019 and beyond. 1. Is 2019 the year that MPLS erosion finally sets in? Every year, pundits offer fresh predictions about the impending decline of MPLS. The fact that they happen like clockwork brings to mind the Mark Twain quip that "rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated."  If MPLS were visibly collapsing, no one would need to keep predicting it. Is this year different, though? In 2019, analysts and customers are discussing two distinct possibilities for MPLS: MPLS could continue to expand, albeit at a fairly slow pace – seven percent compound annual growth from 2018 to 2023 is Research And Markets' forecast. In this case, MPLS remains a viable option for failsafe connectivity for years to come, likely together with SD-WAN for augmenting it with inexpensive Internet connections in many implementations. A precipitous drop thanks to the low service costs of multi-link broadband and 4G LTE.  Many organizations are intent on ditching or reducing MPLS investments.  Between 2017 and 2018, enterprise MPLS footprints the pace of enterprises considering alternative approaches jumped from 23 to 41 percent, according to Nemertes Research.  Of course, those enterprises that don't want to sacrifice MPLS-class high availability and QoE in such a move will require failsafe SD-WAN technology – something that most SD-WAN vendors have not developed. A joint Oracle/Talari & RingCentral customer RTI noted on a UCaaS Realities webinar earlier this month it was dropping its MPLS service due to cost thanks to the more-than-capable failsafe SD-WAN QoE it has attained for its dozens of branch locations.  Other customers are taking a hybrid approach and keeping a smaller MPLS footprint while adding multiple broadband connections to their SD-WAN instance. 2. Will the SD-WAN vendor market consolidate or diversify? Would you believe us if we said the answer might be "both"? Consolidation of the SD-WAN vendor landscape has already begun as major enterprise and networking vendors have sought a presence in a rapidly growing market. Look no further than Oracle acquiring Talari, with Oracle becoming the only major cloud provider with a SD-WAN offering.  That trend should continue in 2019, since the number of stand-alone SD-WAN companies is fairly high, creating many acquisition opportunities. At the same time, SD-WAN has also become a "feature set" integrated into other network infrastructure offerings, not just a standalone solution.  Many vendors are now claiming to be SD-WAN providers by virtue of weaving some rudimentary WAN aggregation functionality into their products; prospective customers should tread carefully, and will need to pay attention to whether these offerings can deliver the same level of reliability and application performance predictability that they have been used to with their MPLS-only WANs, as most simply cannot. Finally, rising demand for cloud-based managed SD-WAN service is also likely to bring some new faces into the marketplace. 3. What will UCaaS adoption look like in 2019? UCaaS represents an important growth opportunity for SD-WAN vendors. Cloud-based delivery models are becoming more common and customers both large and small are migrating many of their communications to UCaaS platforms. A Nemertes Research survey of 600 end-user organizations found 29 percent UCaaS adoption demonstrating large enterprise headroom for further uptake. The integration of SD-WAN services into UCaaS offerings, including Oracle SD-WAN partner RingCentral, has the potential to dramatically increase production deployment of SD-WAN and continue the strong adoption growth of the last two years. Maintaining voice and video call quality is another obvious area where having failsafe SD-WAN technology is critical for QoE and user satisfaction. We'll be thinking about these questions and others throughout 2019. In the meantime, please review our FAQ, opt in for future Oracle SD-WAN updates or request a demo to learn more about how Oracle delivers failsafe SD-WAN.

By now, you may have already read a few takes on the road ahead for SD-WAN in 2019, and how that squares with what happened in 2018. We're going to take a slightly different approach to this annual...


Survey Says 5G Smart Ecosystems Critical To Going Digital

Oracle’s report “5G Smart Ecosystems are Transforming the Enterprise – Are You Ready?” surveyed 265 key business and IT decision makers at medium and large enterprises across industries. The findings revealed that the overwhelming majority of enterprises are aware of the benefits that 5G can bring to their business, with 60 percent of IT and business executives saying they are already undertaking a strategic review of 5G network technologies, evaluating its potential impact on business objectives—the most salient being: Increasing employee productivity Reducing costs Enhancing customer experience Improving business agility When asked about the importance of network qualities, the IT decision-makers highlighted network speed and resilience as key benefits they expect, but interestingly, business decision-makers focused on QoE, which was the highest-ranked network quality they said they would like with 5G. At the heart of that QoE they cited “extremely reliable mobile connectivity” as critical. As for expectations around timing for 5G, it seems the majority of enterprises feel basic connectivity solutions to be deployed by 2021 and more advanced “transformative” capabilities to be available in the 2022-2023 timeframe. In the meantime, respondents noted that the “ecosystems” in which 5G will be structured will be based on 5G network-enabled solutions. That means CSPs will be critical enablers to those ecosystem buildouts. Because 5G-driven smart ecosystems will be the foundation for new 5G-driven business models, there will be key innovations that arise from their evolution, namely: Network slices-as-a-service using integrated Cloud and 4G/5G/SD-WAN network infrastructure; Cloud-based digital business engines; End-to-end security across cloud and networks, as well as secure identity management.  With these innovations, smart ecosystems will be the means by which digital and IoT innovators build interconnected, scalable, service-oriented software capable of bringing together “things,” data, mobile apps and business systems and processes. To learn more about smart ecosystems, download our new white paper “Be Digital: 5G Smart Ecosystems Are the Future” and visit us at Mobile World Congress at booth 3B30 in Hall 3 at #MWC 2019. Find out how to expand your competitive advantage with transitional 4G-to-5G network and monetization solutions, advanced cloud capabilities, and end-to-end security and SD-WAN solutions.

Oracle’s report “5G Smart Ecosystems are Transforming the Enterprise – Are You Ready?” surveyed 265 key business and IT decision makers at medium and large enterprises across industries. The findings...

Customer Experience

Digital Customer Experience: Are Your Customers Struggling to Connect with You?

If only customers could say ‘Alexa, fix my Netflix.' However, Digital CX (DXC) is not about technology, but what technology can enable, as it can fundamentally change how work gets done, how companies interact with their customers and how decisions are made. Business leaders are taking note. In fact, a recent Nemertes Research survey of 700 global organizations found that as many as 85 percent of companies have developed or are planning to develop Digital Customer Experience (DCX) strategies. Many in the survey indicated they will devote measurable budgets and employees to the efforts as most companies, on average, have experienced the following success metrics after launching a DCX initiative: 50% improvement in customer ratings 
 15% reduction in operational costs 
 31% growth in sales 
 68% more customers won; 14% fewer customers lost 
 31% reduction in contact-center agent turnover 
. [Note: for access to the Nemertes paper, register for our Digital Customer Experience Webinar]. Here at Oracle Communications, we have found that companies that do not invest in DCX risk severe competitive disadvantage. Measurable success in revenue growth, cost reduction, and higher customer ratings requires a DCX strategy that helps address certain key questions, such as: Are your customers struggling to connect with you? Can you meet your customers where they are in terms of device, location, engagement channel choice? How well does your mobile app provide service and sales support? Would you like to improve customer satisfaction and convert service opportunities into sales? Coming into your store and having a personal meeting with you as a business owner or manager is often the last thing a customer will do. Instead, that customer wants to engage through a peferred device to immediately connect and create a meaningful experience. To create that desired experience, DCX transformation focuses on omnichannel communications, new methods of proactive collaboration and outreach and loyalty-building programs and campaigns. Businesses can empower customers to make DCX truly personalized, contextual and meaningful throughout the entire customer engagement lifecycle. To do so, they must increasingly realize the customers expect them to cater to their needs, regardless of where they are or whether they are using multiple devices to research/shop/buy/get support. Customers want a choice in the paths they can take, and rarely will they follow the paths that businesses have carefully laid out for them. As they navigate their own path of engagement, they build an individualized journey. Businesses have to honor that journey, meeting customers where they are, in context, with the appropriate interaction to make the most of their individualized journeys. As this happens, there will continue to be a dramatic shift in the balance of power between organizations and their customers across virtually all industries. Customers will continue to redefined their “ideal experience,” and business leaders will have to determine whether they are ready to take the next step. To learn more about that "next step,"  register for our upcoming Webinar “Real-World Success Metrics for Digital Customer Experience" and view our recent video: “Why Should Companies Invest in Digital Customer Engagement?” Additionally, you can view our recent eBook, “New Ways to Engage the Connected Customer.”

If only customers could say ‘Alexa, fix my Netflix.' However, Digital CX (DXC) is not about technology, but what technology can enable, as it can fundamentally change how work gets done, how...


Top-Four Benefits of Combining UCaaS with Failsafe SD-WAN

During its early years, the value proposition for a failsafe SD-WAN solution – i.e. one the delivers MPLS-class high availability and predictable Quality of Experience (QoE) – such as Oracle's revolved around its ability to deliver MPLS-class performance at a fraction of the expense of actual MPLS, thanks to the ability to augment or replace MPLS with broadband transport options such as DSL, Cable and 4G LTE. Today, a failsafe SD-WAN is far more than a cost-cutting solution – it's also an engine offering improved application performance and an on-ramp to real-time and highly interactive  applications based in the cloud, including valuable collaboration solutions like Unified Communications-as-a-Service (UCaaS) suites. How can you balance cost, complexity and performance in UCaaS deployments? On paper, UCaaS makes life easier for enterprises by providing a streamlined communications platform built from the ground up for their mobile and highly-distributed workforces. UCaaS seamlessly combines telephony, messaging, screen sharing, videoconferencing and more into a powerful cloud-based service that's both easy to scale and simple to manage. As an organization grows and evolves, its UCaaS deployment can scale to meet changing business and staff requirements without any of the complicated configurations or hardware management of a traditional PBX. So what's the catch? Start with the Wide Area Connectivity (WAN) used to access UCaaS. When you shift all of your vital real-time communications to the cloud, the WAN must accommodate greatly increased demand and QoS requirements. Dedicated WAN connections from UCaaS providers can help, but are pricey, while broadband Internet links by themselves lack the built-in QoS, let alone end-to-end QoE, to ensure an optimal user experience. Top-Four failsafe SD-WAN benefits Failsafe SD-WAN solutions strike the right balance between cost, ease of management and performance when making the move to using widely available Internet connectivity and UCaaS: Incorporation of inexpensive transport options like commodity Internet into a failsafe WAN capable of prioritizing and efficiently transporting demanding UCaaS traffic like VoIP and video Preservation and leverage of existing MPLS circuits, without requiring a costly rip-and-replace. Beyond the hard dollar cost savings versus WANs using only low-bandwidth, expensive private circuit WANs like MPLS, failsafe SD-WANs deliver cost reductions in the form of higher UCaaS reliability and lower downtime, which together boost company productivity. Bundling carrier-agnostic SD-WANs directly with the UCaaS solution is a natural fit. By pairing them, UCaaS, SaaS and other communication service providers simplify their customers' journeys to the cloud and enable them to focus more on business-related matters than the technical aspects of their WANs. Driving deeper into the SD-WAN-UCaaS connection Oracle recently hosted a UCaaS & SD-WAN webinar featuring a joint customer – Riverside Transport Inc. – a senior executive from RingCentral, and technology analyst Lee Doyle. This interactive session detailed the synergies of UCaaS and failsafe SD-WANs, noting how to reliably deploy services such as VoIP and SIP trunking and the overall shape of the market for cloud-based communications. To listen/watch, visit this page. In the meantime, please visit our FAQ or request an Oracle demo at www.oracle.com/sd-wan to learn more about the benefits of SD-WAN for UCaaS and other solutions.

During its early years, the value proposition for a failsafe SD-WAN solution – i.e. one the delivers MPLS-class high availability and predictable Quality of Experience (QoE) – such as Oracle's...


5G Smart Ecosystems Are Critical to Digital Business

Digital Smart Ecosystems will be the foundation for new 5G-driven business models. They will be the means by which digital and IoT innovators will build interconnected, scalable, service-oriented platforms capable of bringing together “things,” data, mobile apps and business systems and processes. With so many moving parts, service providers and enterprises must make sure to keep customer experience top of mind. Customers expect intuitive experiences and context-driven interactions that are real time and dynamic in nature. Whether moving toward smart homes, smart workplaces or smart cities, it is digital smart ecosystems that must somehow improve peoples’ lives. They can do so only by abstracting the complexity that comes with managing far-flung data, monetization models, partner ecosystems, clouds and connectivity infrastructure. To manage that complexity, there are three key innovations that will underpin successful Smart Ecosystems: Network slices-as-a-service using integrated Cloud and 4G/5G/SD-WAN network infrastructure; Cloud-based digital business engine; End-to-end security across cloud and networks, as well as secure identity management.  These innovations will make CSPs the ideal enablers of smart ecosystems, particularly as they move toward 5G. Their role will be paramount in expanding beyond connectivity to application and service provisioning, as well as enablement of digital services like connected cars, entertainment and IoT management. A recent Oracle survey revealed that 49 percent of network and IT executives are exploring 5G-enabled smart city services, looking to 5G as a way to increase penetration in the enterprise market. As they evaluate roles in smart ecosystems, they will need to seek out solutions that help them to integrate network and cloud infrastructure, systems, software, and applications. They must also increasingly leverage analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML) in order to deliver a more personalized, seamless, and secure digital experience. To find out more about how to build and leverage digital smart ecosystems, download our recent white paper, “Be Digital: 5G Smart Ecosystems are the Future.”  

Digital Smart Ecosystems will be the foundation for new 5G-driven business models. They will be the means by which digital and IoT innovators will build interconnected, scalable, service-oriented...


What Does It Really Mean to Be in the Cloud?

It means DevOps, Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD), as well as Microservices. Each of these concepts are of paramount importance to the Cloud. The more DevOps resources you have developing and running the software, the more continuous delivery and integration you have, the greater the opportunity to improve software quality with shorter cycles—and overall, the better off you are.   Microservices come into play in the operations realm, with each piece of deployed software having an independent lifecycle of upgrades and scalability. If you cannot scale and upgrade automatically, then you are not truly taking advantage of all the Cloud has to offer! Of course, there is more to operating in the Cloud than the aforementioned three concepts when building out a Cloud 2.0 journey. Below we offer up eight principles that have been foundational to Oracle Communications in establishing its own SaaS services. The principles are derived from the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, and we believe they are crucial to this journey: System Immutability: Since everything is code, and all changes are made through CI/CD, no manual configurations or customizations are allowed. This enforces an effective intrusion detection framework and any changes that are not part of the programmed pipeline are considered malicious. Automate Everything: Since all aspects of build, test, verification and deployment are automated, this enables a DevOps pipeline for rapid repair and minimizes human error factors. Disposability:  This is all about faster recovery from failure with regular repaving (re-deployment) where failing services are automatically removed and new ones deployed. Externalized Configuration: Decoupling the configuration from the software and treating it as a build artifact in a controlled and versioned manner enables development and production parity, with versioned configuration eliminating costly operational errors. Logs as Event Streams and Constant Telemetry: This is a fundamental enabler for better threat monitoring, forensics and diagnostics for an aggregated and time-ordered holistic view of events. Delegated Governance: This puts in place a business agility compliance enforcement and feedback loop for greater control of the rate of change in a DevOps environment. Independent Lifecycle: Independently upgrading, scaling and deploying each Microservice is paramount for supporting other cloud native principles as well as minimizing the amount of change in the system at a given time. These eight principles are enablers for better cloud operation. And as 5G introduces increased connectivity and speed, along with the need for more security and reliability, service providers will need the agility, flexibility and security of the Cloud and Cloud-Native principles.  By leveraging these principles, organizations will be able to evolve and prepare for 5G and its promise for innovative business models and new revenue streams. For more insights, view our on-demand webinar "5G and Cloud, Accelerating New Growth Opportunities for Operators."   Also listen to other related webinars: 5G Core: How to Get There The Potential of Network Slicing

It means DevOps, Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD), as well as Microservices. Each of these concepts are of paramount importance to the Cloud. The more DevOps resources you...

Oracle Communications

Customer Advisory Boards Offer Unique Opportunities For Oracle Customers

In major cities around the world, exclusive networks of hundreds of Oracle Communications customers gather each year to help shape the future direction of the Oracle Communications Product Suite. At these Customer Advisory Board (CAB) events, customers get direct access to experts in the Oracle Communications product teams, building relationships that help align and accelerate product innovation and implementation. Customers also engage in conversations and build relationships with peers — one of most unique aspects of CAB being the camaraderie and the ability to share individual experiences along with views of technology and business evolution. “CAB is a great platform where we get to meet the communities that are using similar types of products. It’s great to interact with peers who have similar domain knowledge and to be able to talk to them to see if they face similar challenges,” says SiriusXM’s Dalbir Gambhir, senior director, application development. “Also, we get to meet the oracle team that is working on innovation and advancement of products and processes.” Vittal Cooduvalli, senior director, application platform operations at Charter Communications also values the intimate sessions with Oracle experts: “The product sessions have been very valuable on two faces - one, in trying to understand the roadmap, and two, to correlate it to what we do in our business.” If you are interested in this unique experience of relationship building and having direct access to product and industry experts, you are welcome to join the Oracle Communications Customer Advisory Board meetings coming this spring: The Global Enterprise CAB to be held in conjunction with Enterprise Connect on March 21 in Orlando, Florida; The Global CSP CAB to be held April 9-10 at the Oracle Conference Center in Redwood Shores, CA The theme for both CABs will be “smart ecosystems,” with agendas that delve into areas such as 5G, IoT, Network Slices, SD-WAN, SaaS, Security, and Analytics.  Agendas span functional and business innovations along with security aspects of building these ecosystems.  Agendas also include discussions of the roles CSPs and enterprises can play in these innovations.   Subject matter experts and customers will have deep discussions about integrated network and cloud infrastructure, systems, software, and applications and how to leverage analytics, AI and ML. The goal is to help customers and partners build more personalized, seamless, and secure digital experiences for their subscribers. Breakout sessions will be organized in tracks focused on Enterprise Communications, Monetization, Orchestration, RODOD, Digital Business Experience, Session Delivery and Signaling (Spanning 3G, 4G, 5G). There will be deep dives on upcoming features, functionality, and use-cases. Also find out what’s up and coming in demonstrations taking place during networking breaks. How to Join the Community If you would like to attend either of the upcoming Oracle Communications CAB meetings so that you too can play a role in product direction and future releases, first check that you are eligible to attend as a customer. That means you must be licensed with one or more products in the areas of: Enterprise Communications Orchestration, RODOD and Digital Business Experience Monetization Session Delivery Signaling and Policy Please note that customers must have a valid and active Customer or Partner Participation Confidentiality Agreement (CPCA) in place to attend the CAB. Then, contact your Oracle Sales Representative to become a part of the community.   1.    

In major cities around the world, exclusive networks of hundreds of Oracle Communications customers gather each year to help shape the future direction of the Oracle Communications Product Suite. At...


What to do? Botnets on the Rise with Voice-Enabled Smart Devices

When people say “Alexa, play my music list” or “get me a recipe,” they don’t think about the vulnerabilities voice-enabled devices open up on carrier networks. But CSPs sure do!  A landscape once made up of PCS, handsets, servers and devices now bursts with millions of tiny, connected “things” — in homes and enterprises: security cameras, door locks, DVRs, WiFi routers, printers, appliances, monitors. What happens when millions more users begin streaming music, setting timers, controlling in-home and in-office devices with the IoT-driven digital services? How many millions of potentially “infected” “things” will make us all vulnerable to sabotage and espionage? Of particular concern are botnet-driven malware attacks, like the Hide-n-Seek and Mirai attacks. Not too long ago, 50,000 unsecured IP surveillance cameras in Japan carried out a massive DDoS botnet attack. These types of attacks can be self propagating and trigger massive IoT infections, and even DoS attacks. These attacks are even “monetized, with cryptocurrency sites becoming the most recent target. And as perpetrators succeed, they make the code publicly available so that copycats can race to also capture their “15 minutes of fame” —albeit anonymously. These threats are certainly catching the attention of service providers offering smart-home and intelligent-business services, but even “hardening” of devices cannot fully offset what manufacturers fail to do. For this reason, most security and IT professionals never “breathe easy.” They know the bad guys are racing to be 20 steps ahead, as evidenced in a recent Oracle Communications’ industry survey that shows security as the #1 network challenge. We expect security to be an increasing concern with the migration from 4G to 5G architecture and the expansion of the IoT. As the surface area of security risk exposure expands, CSP customers and enterprises will demand that suppliers invest in broader network and web application security—anything that helps them gain visibility into botnet activity and to detect when bots are being distributed in various parts of their networks. In that vein, Oracle Communications has invested significantly in 5G next-gen core security, as well as improving its capabilities to detect new security threats with the acquisition of DNS pioneer DYN. The global DNS is a critical core component and a natural extension to Oracle’s Cloud Infrastructure and Network solutions — all of which are intrinsically architected with Security as a number-one priority. For CSPs and their enterprise customers to protect against botnets, they have to continue to explore solutions that are securely architected, securely deployed, securely maintained and independently verified. That is the case, for example, with Oracle Communications Session Border Controller, which offers SBC denial of service (DoS) self-protection. The SBC is just one example of the Oracle Communications solutions available to provide multiple levels of security. And as our CSP and enterprise customers get into IoT-driven digital services and feel the pressure to ensure their customers, partners and employees are protected from botnet-driven malware attacks, they will see that security is part of our DNA, as we have architected foundational solutions like Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) and Oracle Autonomous Database with security as a number-one priority. To read more about defeating malicious bots, go here. And to learn more about security best practices, go here.  

When people say “Alexa, play my music list” or “get me a recipe,” they don’t think about the vulnerabilities voice-enabled devices open up on carrier networks. But CSPs sure do!  A landscape once made...


SD-WAN: Comparing Three Different Network Security Model Architectures

A failsafe SD-WAN is a catalyst for digital transformation of an organization's branches.  Enterprises count on failsafe SD-WANs for tangible user benefits like enhanced Quality of Experience (QoE) for real-time and highly interactive applications even as they are using Internet links to augment or replace their expensive, low-bandwidth MPLS WANs.  But this cannot come at the expense of network security. Rather than sometimes requiring costly rip-and-replace approaches, it's important that an enterprise SD-WAN solution support the network security model that the enterprise prefers, or simply has in place today. Three distinctly different options here – centralized, distributed and cloud-based architectures – naturally prompt security concerns and specific benefits.  How does an SD-WAN solution protect enterprise network traffic?  What are the cost and network management implications?  Are there any upgrades required to the rest of the enterprise WAN or LAN? Failsafe SD-WANs are multilayered and offer high business value for fault-tolerant networks. To uncover the truth about an SD-WAN platform, let's focus now on the general network security capabilities for the 3 specific architectures. The fundamentals of SD-WAN security Regardless of the network security architecture, encryption is table stakes for a modern SD-WAN. Data-level security, via 128- or 256-bit AES encryption, meets this requirement by ensuring traffic is secure for traffic between branches, from branch to data center and between branches or private data centers and the cloud. Additional features such as per-session rotating keys, IPsec termination, virtual routing and forwarding and extended packet authentication headers further shore up security on this front.  All of these features are fundamental to a secure failsafe SD-WAN. Now let's look at the differences based on the 3 network security models mentioned earlier: Centralized The most common network security model for larger enterprises has traditionally entailed using low-bandwidth, expensive MPLS links to backhaul branch traffic to a central data center or HQ, which serves as the point for centralized network security policy and Internet egress. The setup is meant to balance overall performance and security concerns and security costs (both CapEx and OpEx) by harnessing the reliability of private MPLS links and centralizing complex, expensive network security functionality at a small number of locations, but  in addition to the obvious issue of the higher average latency for cloud and SaaS access, there are problems in terms of scaling the WAN for bandwith-intensive applications. In contrast, businesses using a Talari SD-WAN gain reliable backhaul transport via high-bandwidth, inexpensive broadband instead of MPLS. Moreover, it delivers this benefit without requiring a forklift upgrade of existing infrastructure. Distributed Distributed internet access is the common alternative to the centralized model for new SD-WAN deployments. While it does offer lower average latency for Internet and cloud access than the centralized approach, it carries its own set of security, QoE and reliability issues.  Network security is much more expensive to deploy and harder to manage with this distributed approach. This makes it particularly expensive to deploy and maintain advanced next-generation firewall (NGFW) capabilities. A lapse at just one branch is enough to cause an incident, making it important to ensure the presence of sufficient threat management capability. As with centralized security, Talari supports a fully distributed model without the need for an infrastructure overhaul. Cloud-based Looking ahead, cloud-based network security deployments may end up being the most viable network security model for addressing cloud and SaaS access with SD-WAN deployments since it doesn't require ongoing reliance on advanced distributed network security infrastructure, while still delivering lower average latency for cloud access.  The key, though, is ensuring the reliability and security of the connection to the cloud.  Existing integrations with services such as Zscaler and Palo Alto Networks' Global Protect Cloud are a start, as they simplify internet traffic flows and eliminate complex setups. And new solutions like Talari Cloud Connect go even further in streamlining SaaS connectivity and delivering reliability and QoE without the hassle of deploying infrastructure in the cloud, so stay tuned for more news on this topic. For now, the changes required under the cloud model bear watching for many organizations with substantial WAN investments. Fortunately, with a Talari failsafe SD-WAN, customers don't have to change their network security model simply to meet the requirement of the SD-WAN solution. Instead, customers can be confident that SD-WAN innovation will seamlessly match all their architectural choices today and tomorrow. Learn more by requesting a demo or reviewing our FAQ.

A failsafe SD-WAN is a catalyst for digital transformation of an organization's branches.  Enterprises count on failsafe SD-WANs for tangible user benefits like enhanced Quality of Experience (QoE)...

Internet of Things

How to Combine Mobile Internet, IoT, and Cloud for 'Internet of Value'

The evolution from Internet, to mobile Internet, to Internet of Things has set the stage for the cloud-enabled “Internet of Value” in which individuals and businesses derive more value from the combination of Internet and Cloud. In a recent study, we demonstrate why delivering a differentiated customer experience is strategically important, and the urgency monetization decision-makers feel to streamline the entire ERP/CRM/Monetization value chain. If you manage to heighten the level of “value” experienced by a customer, you can drive up satisfaction and perhaps loyalty, both of which translate into longer-term B2C relationships and recurring revenues over time. We give a real-world example of how this can happen in our video "Going Digital: the Internet of Value," in which a solar-panel business handles purchase, analytics, and monetization stages in the cloud, enhancing the value" as the customer goes through the customer journey. For most companies, value begins at the point where the customer is seeking to know more about a product, solution or service—the primary source of the information likely being Internet searches on a preferred device, likely a smart phone, tablet or laptop. To remove friction in the purchase, installation, power generation, and settlements, the business process is facilitated by a combination of clouds. For example, in Oracle Monetization Cloud, the customer can begin to evaluate specifications around performance, quality, durability and warranties to better understand how different solar-panel brands compare to one another. In simplifying the otherwise complex and confusing process of comparing brands, a relationship is initiated and early-stage trust is established. In our video example, the customer chooses the brand of solar panel that is the best fit for his or her needs, after which a bill is sent, panels installed and electricity begins to generate. As this happens, Oracle Monetization Cloud not only keeps track of the billing, but also collects how much energy is generated from the system. The Solar Panel owner goes to the cloud for both payments, and to receive payments on the power generated by the panels. As information is gathered, it can be stored in Oracle Analytics Cloud for historical reference about how much power is produced during different seasons and different types of weather, helping the consumer better understand how much they are producing versus how much they are consuming, as well as how much energy is being sold back to an energy company. If questions or information needs to be shared between the solar panel owner and the power company or the solar company, the Oracle Live Experience Cloud provides a direct voice or data connection through an application or a website. The information from Oracle Monetization Cloud and Analytics Cloud may be presented through an easy-to-use GUI, with information about the performance of individual panels or arrays of panels graphically depicted and drilled into through the touch of the screen. For example, panels lit up on the screen can at the touch of a button be expanded for more information about specific energy production. If there are panels that have gone dark, a tap on the screen can initiate an immediate, one-click engagement with an agent from the solar-panel company, and through screen-sharing, that agent can immediately see what is on the consumer’s screen. The consumer and agent can even mark with a pen/stylus certain characteristics on the shared Live Experience screen, and then determine action, such as whether the panel will be re-set by the agent, who can then also issue a credit or take other action to further satisfy the customer and heighten the perception of value from the brand. That “value” of that customer-service interaction further augments the tangible value the consumer sees when drilling down into energy credits and the monthly, or yearly statistics about money saved or money generated by that initial solar-panel purchase. Over the lifetime of the relationship with the customer, that value can increase through the high-value engagements that come through combining Internet, mobile and cloud. For energy, financial services, retail, manufacturing and other sectors, this combination of technologies will combine with more cognitive and predictive technologies (fueled for example by 3D, AI, ML) to further drive the Internet of Value.  

The evolution from Internet, to mobile Internet, to Internet of Things has set the stage for the cloud-enabled “Internet of Value” in which individuals and businesses derive more value from...

Strategic OSS

Strategic OSS as 'Incubator' for Digital Innovation

When Oracle Communications was named a Leader in Gartner’s 2018 Magic Quadrant for Operations Support Systems for the seventh consecutive time, it was recognized in particular for its modern OSS, which provides open, multi-domain, service fulfillment, and cross-layer orchestration to enhance business and operational agility across traditional and virtualized networks. When going digital, CSPs will need modern OSS, with OSS data becoming more important to lines of business, as well as to marketing and strategic planning departments — all of which strive to better understand how the creation, fulfillment, provisioning and assurance of products and solutions will affect customer experience. More strategic OSS will necessitate a convergence of network/service assurance (which has a direct impact on end users' perceived QoE) and service fulfillment (all actions and processes involved in implementing a service order and provisioning the service to the customer). It will also require embedded analytics, automated business processes, and workflows that make OSS more automated and configurable—the ultimate being a self-orchestrating, horizontal software layer that supports hybrid physical and virtual resources—ostensibly, an SDN- and NFV-driven OSS execution layer (OSS orchestration). In that vein, Oracle Communications provides both traditional OSS and strategic OSS. To learn more, read about our Oracle Communications Service and Network Orchestration, an open, agile, model-driven approach designed to accelerate CSPs' digital transformation efforts by supporting both physical and virtual environments. Also view our vIMS Orchestration Demonstration to learn about self-service and on-demand delivery of services such as Carrier Ethernet across multiple sites with the addition of Value-Added services (i.e.,  using virtual Session Border Controller and Core Session Management).       

When Oracle Communications was named a Leader in Gartner’s 2018 Magic Quadrant for Operations Support Systems for the seventh consecutive time, it was recognized in particular for its modern OSS,...


Gone With One-Size-Fits-All Approach, In With Network Slicing

One of the most exciting concepts enforced in 5G is network slicing, which provides the opportunity for CSPs to tailor connectivity services to the precise requirements of any given application, user, device or context, by logically isolating virtualized network resources. When applied appropriately, service level agreements (SLAs) may be attached that provide the building blocks of the business model. The Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) provides a concise definition of network slicing: 'A network slice Instance is a set of run-time network functions, and resources to run these network functions, forming a complete instantiated logical network to meet certain network characteristics required by the Service Instance(s).”  As a highly dynamic process of defining, instantiating, and selecting, scaling, and de-instancing slices, there are certain capabilities needed to support network slicing, such as: Resource and lifecycle management Orchestration Real-time selection and Key Performance Indicator (KPI) monitoring The concept of a dedicated core network is not new and was introduced in 4G as a DECOR feature. 5G however bakes network slicing into its core service and extends it to be end to end. That means the one-size-fits-all approach to network infrastructure goes by the wayside, as 5G brings a service-based architecture, IT-centric cloud services, and an exciting new ability to personalize network “slices” that match the specific requirements of industry-vertical applications to customer segments. This evolution will empower CSPs to launch and evolve custom-fit network slices-as-a-service rapidly—with lower capital and operating costs—and provide opportunity for new revenue-generating, customized digital business services. Register for the second webinar in our 5G series, “The Potential of Network Slicing in 5G,”  to discuss the potential of network slicing and its impact on smart ecosystems through slice-as-a-service business models and potentially a slice market place.  

One of the most exciting concepts enforced in 5G is network slicing, which provides the opportunity for CSPs to tailor connectivity services to the precise requirements of any given application, user,...


Today, the SD-WANscape Changes

Today, Talari Networks is proud to announce it is entering into an agreement to be acquired by Oracle. Once the transaction closes, we believe the impact to existing and new customers will be tremendous. Our loyal customers can expect to see powerful new network functionality and capabilities at an accelerated pace. And the vast span of Oracle’s brand and reach will extend the Talari solution across the globe. Together, Oracle and Talari plan to accelerate digital transformation and cloud adoption by providing companies with complete enterprise network solutions that deliver reliable real-time communications and performance of mission-critical applications over any network. This is an exciting market and an amazing time to join Oracle!  The SD-WAN-scape is crucial to the ongoing evolution of digital transformation.  And, the Talari solution accelerates what is possible by means of its Failsafe SD-WAN technology.  Proprietary Failsafe technology enhances the benefits of SD-WAN by adding greater reliability and predictability while maintaining security for site-to-cloud and site-to-site connectivity and application access over any IP network. Today, Talari serves over 500 enterprise customers in 40 different countries across a variety of industries including public sector, financial services, insurance, retail and manufacturing. When the transaction closes, we’ll serve a vastly expanded landscape with Oracle. I simply couldn’t be prouder or more excited.  And most importantly, both company’s customers will be the beneficiaries of this transaction. Patrick Sweeney CEO Talari Networks

Today, Talari Networks is proud to announce it is entering into an agreement to be acquired by Oracle. Once the transaction closes, we believe the impact to existing and new customers will be...


Everything-as-a-Service Model Depends on Robust Monetization Capabilities

Across industries, leading businesses are increasingly shifting their business models from selling products as a single transaction to selling everything as-a-Service (XaaS). Who wouldn’t want to trade lumpy revenues in for recurring and predicable revenue streams with the added benefit of much deeper customer relationships and the data to continue to improve offerings? In fact, 75% of monetization decision-makers see launching a subscription-based service as a priority, recognizing that to compete in the digital economy they must move away from product-centric, transactional relationships toward more sustained and meaningful relationships with customers. But competing today requires much more than a simple subscription that lacks personalization, flexibility, incentives and a way to stand out in the marketplace. In fact, companies who are leading the pack are moving beyond product sales and simple subscriptions and now offering creative packages with bundled services, intuitive pricing measurements and flexibility in subscription account setup. Business leaders who want to move toward those capabilities need to take a fresh look at their business models and the systems and solutions they use for monetization. Yesterday’s ERP-based solutions can provide stop-gap capabilities, but savvy business leaders understand that to truly scale their XaaS business — with the flexibility to imagine any business model — they need purpose-built monetization solutions that tightly integrate with front- and back-office applications. That is not easy to achieve, as most companies that are operating in a product-centric world lack the pricing, billing, monitoring, revenue management and other monetization capabilities necessary to complete the shift from selling physical products to digital services. That means that companies moving toward XaaS must seriously evaluate whether their existing solutions can support unique services and bundles by enabling flexible pricing based on custom attributes, or advanced cross-product discounting and charging based on events, downloads or other measurements that relate to consumption. The companies that are winning in XaaS today strive for some common capabilities that help them stand out, including: Accelerated launch of creative subscriptions and usage-based offers that no longer hinder the evolution of business models; Increased subscriber control through online tools and the ability to personalize everything from threshold notifications to payment methods by account owner; Advanced capabilities like AI for product recommendations, bots for intelligent customer interaction, and analytics to monitor subscription KPIs; Opportunity to take advantage of REST APIs and best practices based on standards that foster integration among commerce, point-of-sale, engagement and ERP applications. And of course no one wants to risk security breaches, limits to business growth or stalled innovation, so the most robust monetization solutions must be delivered on high-security, high-performance cloud infrastructure with the ability to instantly scale up and down. To learn more about how Oracle is bringing the power of communications-grade billing to the cloud for all industries, read our latest major Oracle Monetization Cloud release. Additionally, check out a recent OVUM report about XaaS and requirements for software-driven strategic approaches to monetizing digital services .    

Across industries, leading businesses are increasingly shifting their business models from selling products as a single transaction to selling everything as-a-Service (XaaS). Who wouldn’t want...


MPLS is Dead, Long Live MPLS and Failsafe SD-WAN

Natural selection is a proven process. Darwin is still correct to note that, in the long run, newer and better business technologies will easily replace older ones. The annual release of faster iPhones and the ongoing improvement of IEEE Wi-Fi standards offer compelling "technology evolution" evidence. Iteration works and proves that there's no point in clinging to the past when it's prologue. Evolution is not always smooth in technology transitions. For example, MPLS services date back to the mid-1990s, before many businesses heard the muted mating calls of dial-up public internet access. While the transition from Frame Relay to MPLS in the early 2000s was relatively quick and uneventful, MPLS ~15 years later remains in wide use, with a longevity and resilience to change that would make even 2001's Microsoft Windows XP (popular well into the early 2010s) blush. The MPLS services market is still expected to exceed $20 billion in 2020. Some service providers outside North America and Western Europe even continue to see growth in MPLS subscriptions. Others are feeling Darwin's evolutionary grip already, largely because of enterprise's move to the cloud and the introduction of newer, better, less costly approaches like software-defined WANs (SD-WANs). There are plenty of reasons for the ongoing utilization of MPLS, despite its disadvantages in terms of cost, capabilities and versatility vis-a-vis the combination of SD-WAN technology and less expensive transport options such as broadband. But clearly the most important reason why MPLS will not be going away altogether any time soon is that MPLS delivers a failsafe WAN. What is a Failsafe WAN? Failsafe WANs deliver both high availability (simple "uptime") and predictable performance that meets the key requirements of both TCP and real-time applications like Unified Communications. While expensive and in some ways "overengineered", MPLS still delivers traffic more reliably and predictably than the unaided public internet and offer built-in QoS mechanisms key for real-time or other mission-critical traffic. Prior to failsafe SD-WAN technology, MPLS was the only widely available WAN service available for delivering failsafe WANs. The evolutionary wave of SD-WANs might seem in the abstract like an existential threat to MPLS. SD-WANs offer enterprises numerous benefits at a much lower ongoing cost. SD-WANs work with multiple forms of network transport – not just MPLS, but also broadband, LTE and satellite links. On the other hand, the technology from many SD-WAN vendors cannot deliver on failsafe. In fact, only a tiny handful of vendors have developed failsafe SD-WAN technology (and no one does failsafe SD-WANs as well as Talari).  Failsafe SD-WANs, however, do deliver on the core value propositions of MPLS, while providing more versatility and a long-term way to cost-effectively grow the enterprise WAN, an also delivering additional advantages like superior connections to SaaS and cloud services. MPLS as a Cog in the Failsafe SD-WAN Machine With the right carrier-agnostic, failsafe SD-WAN technology, enterprises can have their cake and eat it, too – and do so in an evolutionary fashion. MPLS paired with SD-WAN in a hybrid WAN evolutionary combination plays a pivotal part in this new and more streamlined setup for many enterprises. A failsafe SD-WAN offers MPLS-class high availability coupled with Quality of Experience, regardless of whether it's extended over a hybrid combination of MPLS plus an internet WAN fabric, or a set of exclusively Internet connections. This leaves it up to the enterprise to determine whether and when to decommission expensive MPLS links as they incorporate more Internet connections into their WAN, knowing that they will not have to sacrifice reliability or application predictability in the process – as they would if they chose an SD-WAN solution lacking critical failsafe capabilities. With failsafe SD-WAN technology from Talari, it's possible to aggregate bandwidth across disparate links (e.g., MPLS and Internet) for even a single traffic flow.  Moreover, the centralized orchestration and analytics available through the management console enables unprecedented visibility into WAN conditions. These features make SD-WAN a genus breakthrough upgrade even if you prefer to protect your MPLS investment.  Darwin is again correct. Newer WAN innovations do improve management, performance and scalability as your application mix evolves. Talari Networks offers a new genus of failsafe SD-WAN compatible with all forms of modern network transport. Learn more by requesting a demo today.

Natural selection is a proven process. Darwin is still correct to note that, in the long run, newer and better business technologies will easily replace older ones. The annual release of faster...


Security: Trust Is No Longer a Reasonable Assumption

IP networks introduce the vulnerabilities of the Internet to telecoms infrastructure, as the concept of “trusted partners” falls apart in ever-expanding digital- and IoT-driven ecosystems in which illicit actors purchase roaming network connectivity and network credentials from wireless service providers, using IP connections (i.e., via SIGTRAN in SS7). Because SS7 and Diameter are the standard for roaming interconnects, they become the vehicles for network-connections abuse. Readily accessible tools for location tracking and SMS/voice interception mean that once-effective authentication such as two-factor sign-in used by banks and credit card companies is no longer secure enough to protect subscribers’ personal information. Deploying a security appliance is not the answer. It’s important for CSPs to create a security framework and implement security at the gateways (session border controllers (SBCs), signaling transfer points (STPs) and Diameter edge agents). It also necessitates defense-in-depth, with security in the home location register (HLR)/ home subscriber server (HSS), the Serving GPRS Support Node (SGSN) / Gateway GPRS Support Node (GGSN), and other points in the network. Defense in depth means security implemented in as many places as possible. Persistent monitoring and analytics is critical. Without visibility, CSPs will not be able to identify attacks on subscribers. Visibility is critical in all networks, especially as we move towards 5G. While many have discussed encryption as the solution,  the reality is encryption (at the MAP or AVP layers) will not prevent SS7 or Diameter location tracking, SMS intercept, or call intercept. Only solid, comprehensive security frameworks implemented in the signaling gateways ensures robust signaling security. To learn more about securing the network, watch this TIA NOW panel debate about the best path forward.

IP networks introduce the vulnerabilities of the Internet to telecoms infrastructure, as the concept of “trusted partners” falls apart in ever-expanding digital- and IoT-driven ecosystems in...


UCaaS and SD-WAN Marriage Delivers Reliable B2B Cloud, Voice, Chat and Video Comms

If any enterprise application should be labeled a perfect candidate for cloud-based delivery, it's unified communications. Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) improves upon the costly classic private branch exchange in all the same ways that SaaS outdoes traditionally licensed software, namely by being much more cost-effective, scalable and versatile. UCaaS takes B2B benefits to another level by entrusting system upkeep and performance to a cloud provider bound by a service-level agreement. But while it relieves internal IT teams of the burden of managing and maintaining a complex UC software base, and gives end users more options for boosting their productivity, it place even more burden on WAN administrators to ensure that cloud access offers the network reliability, availability and Quality of Experience (QoE) that enterprises have come to expect from their private MPLS WAN. At its best, UCaaS enables real-time communications with far less overhead than an on-prem equivalent. And while adoption has been brisk, with a recent Gartner report finding that the majority of businesses with 1,000 or more staffers are already considering UCaaS services, there are still obstacles that can impede UCaaS implementation. Many would-be adopters worry about the control and security of their data, for example. But the ability to deliver the same high QoE for real-time applications such as VoIP and videoconferencing that end users have received from their on-premise system is often the greatest challenge. Why UCaaS Needs Failsafe SD-WAN to Meet User Expectations The challenge comes from the reality that the unaided public internet simply does not provide QoS and so is far from ideal for carrying real-time voice and data traffic. UCaaS traffic must compete with TCP applications coming from multiple sources, and be subjected to the same set of behaviors, such as WAN router packet buffers filling up, first causing higher latency (jitter) and ultimately packet loss form those routers discarding packets during periods of congestion. While file transfers, emails and casual web browsing can handle jitter and packet loss with relatively minimal productivity impact, for UCaaS, that same jitter and packet loss creates a noticeable effect and can completely degrade the experience of making a VoIP call or videoconference. While backhauling traffic destined to the cloud first to a private data center will generally result in less observed packet loss and jitter, this solution is very pricey over expensive MPLS connections, adds higher latency to all cloud-destined traffic, and there still remains the issue of the Internet link at the data center itself. In this context, a failsafe software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) with real Quality of Experience (QoE) is the difference-maker. SD-WAN: Jump-starting UCaaS with Multilink Failsafe Connectivity UCaaS is among the top cloud services essential to today's enterprises. Ensuring its predictable performance requires a WAN that accommodates new traffic flows, reduces complexity and simplifies access. All of these capabilities are embodied in a failsafe SD-WAN. By connecting the SD-WAN to a UCaaS platform, enterprises gain a reliable, multi-link cloud conduit with the same visibility, reliability and QoS that exist in failsafe SD-WAN connections between a corporate data center or headquarters and branch sites. That translates into reliable multilink connectivity and better QoE. Mean opinion scores (MOS) are often used for UCaaS services to help measure the Quality of Experience. A failsafe SD-WAN will boost MOS measurements for acceptable to exceptional UCaaS deployments. Improving UCaaS with SD-WAN connectivity solves the thorniest technical issues for ensuring predictability and high QoE with the service. As a result, organizations can leverage UCaaS to reach employees at geographically disparate locations. These facilities gain better communication with partners and customers for conducting real-time, profitable business transactions. UCaaS' value as a business tool can exceed the solution's value as a technical advancement. Talari Networks' unique Cloud Connect SD-WAN offering is the perfect on-ramp to superior UCaaS performance and reliability. Request a demo to learn more about how Talari can help you improve your cloud connections.

If any enterprise application should be labeled a perfect candidate for cloud-based delivery, it's unified communications. Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) improves upon the costly classic...


SD-WAN: Healing Overloaded Healthcare WANs

Healthcare has always posed a complicated relationship with technology. Relatively recent innovations – like guest Wi-Fi for patients' families, video conferencing for telemedicine and advanced practice management (PM) software for easy self-service scheduling – all sit alongside legacy technology including the fax machine, not to mention patchwork electronic health records (EHR) systems. As a result, today's healthcare WANs transport complex, heterogeneous mixes of traffic. Different users and needs, namely medical staff and patients, end up competing for limited bandwidth.  With literal life and death decisions based on reliable network communications, every second counts in delivering life-saving care. The ideal healthcare WAN achieves: Acceptable uptime and predictable performance of critical applications. Prioritization and logical segmentation of traffic, using software-defined policies. Scalable bandwidth and high availability using multiple transport options. Let's go through these 3 parameters individually and examine how a failsafe software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) keeps all users, applications and services in the best of health. Performance Both TCP and real-time applications play important parts in healthcare delivery. For example, every modern orthopedic practice relies on an EHR solution, PM software and a picture archiving and communications system (PACs) to collectively manage multiple aspects of patient care. At the same time, telemedicine follow-up – via video chat – is an increasingly important part of specialties like orthopedics, since it allows physicians to monitor progress and provide instructions about brace adjustments. An SD-WAN ensures health care professionals and patients alike get consistent performance for all of these applications. This applies to organizations with many branch sites, or with distributed large medical centers. Prioritization and segmentation As we noted earlier, healthcare WANs are highly active, with medical personnel and patients using them concurrently for different purposes. A physician might use the network to retrieve MRIs and X-rays via the PACS, while a visitor might log on to the guest Wi-Fi network to send messages or watch videos, especially with poor cellular coverage inside of medical facilities. SD-WAN solutions are the best way to make sure apps in the latter mold don't squeeze out more important ones, while still providing bandwidth and access for all needs, thanks to policy-driven prioritization and segmentation of traffic. Centralized management also makes it straightforward to update configurations across the entire WAN in minutes. Bandwidth Healthcare WANs often fall ill due to reliance on expensive and thin MPLS links. Inadequate bandwidth will compromise the performance of mission-critical apps and also make it more difficult to support next-generation applications like video-aided training sessions. Fortunately, failsafe SD-WANs dynamically aggregate bandwidth from multiple connections, whether all MPLS or a combination of MPLS with alternatives like broadband, cellular and satellite connectivity. This approach is far more scalable and cost-effective than a simple MPLS WAN, even one using Internet backup. To learn more about how a failsafe SD-WAN from Talari Networks benefits your healthcare organization, take a look at the eBook below or setup a demo today.

Healthcare has always posed a complicated relationship with technology. Relatively recent innovations – like guest Wi-Fi for patients' families, video conferencing for telemedicine and advanced...


Evolution of SBC from Purpose Built to Virtualized

Most Session Border Controller (SBC) deployments combine purpose-built processing with signaling and media controls in a single appliance or network element to stop front-line of DOS or DDOS attacks. But as organizations virtualize and move to the cloud, they want the type of scalability and flexibility not generally available with hardware. As a result, a new breed of SBCs has emerged—virtualized and fully orchestrated—to work well in software-defined environments, particularly those using white-box solutions from managed service providers that lack robust security for VoIP and SIP. The virtualized SBCs can be used on both the customer and service provider ends when firewalls do not provide enough protection, with security functions delivered via software implemented on devices, such as IP PBXs, to stop network intrusions and provide network management and transcoding. In addition to agility, elasticity, and freedom from proprietary hardware, virtualizing SBCs means faster introduction of services and shorter innovation cycles. Additionally, multitenancy is addressed by dedicating one or more instances of an SBC to a customer, which also means scalability on demand and improved user experience and SLA adherence. Oracle Communications has built out a robust set of requirements for VoLTE, video calling and conferencing, SIP trunking and hosted services, HD voice and RCS, and WebRTC, as shown in the table below. With new SBC and VoLTE technology, Oracle Communications is focused on powering networks of the future, building SBCs that enable trusted communications across IP network access borders and IP interconnect borders, including fixed line, mobile (VoLTE), and OTT services. Learn more about purpose-built and virtualized SBCs. For more information: White paper: Choosing Future-Generation Session Border Controllers (PDF) Case study: Italian Ministry of Labour Video: Telefónica Pursues Virtualization with Oracle Communications Video: Telefónica Stops Threats with Oracle

Most Session Border Controller (SBC) deployments combine purpose-built processing with signaling and media controls in a single appliance or network element to stop front-line of DOS or DDOS attacks....


Leapfrogging Competition for Enterprise SD-WAN Cloud/SaaS Access

Introducing Talari Cloud Connect Today we’re very excited to introduce our newest SD-WAN innovation: Talari Cloud Connect. As enterprises embrace public cloud computing, SaaS, hybrid IT and multi-cloud postures in pursuit of their digital-transformation objectives, they are compelled to overhaul their WAN architectures and management models. This ensures the businesses can reliably, securely, and cost-effectively deliver the cloud-based applications and services that are becoming increasingly valuable to business outcomes.  While most SD-WAN offerings provide some value in providing access to cloud services and SaaS, almost all prior approaches face significant challenges in meeting real-time enterprise business requirements. Failsafe cloud/SaaS connectivity, without the typical Enterprise set-up hassle Talari’s Cloud Connect platform, together with our ecosystem partners, addresses each of these problems with an approach that leapfrogs the SD-WAN competition. Cloud Connect offers enterprises simple, failsafe cloud/SaaS access, delivering reliable, high Quality of Experience (QoE) when accessing the cloud without the enterprise hassle of deploying and managing cloud-based infrastructure. Talari Cloud Connect ensures SaaS services such as Unified Communications (e.g. VoIP) deliver all the MPLS-class high availability and predictable application QoE benefits. Talari’s award-winning, failsafe SD-WAN offering delivers this service while accessing the cloud, cloud services and SaaS just as it does between enterprise sites. With Talari Cloud Connect, enterprises avoid the dreaded “two steps forward, one step back” approaches dragging down SD-WAN solutions who claim to fix the problems of cloud/SaaS access.  Enterprises can now safely migrate applications to public cloud and SaaS at their own desired pace. All prior cloud/SaaS access approaches have significant limitations or challenges Since the introduction of public cloud computing, enterprises actively sought to migrate applications to the cloud, but without sacrificing the reliability and application performance predictability benefits of their expensive private MPLS WANs.  Business users far prefer lower ongoing administrative costs and dealing with complex set-up and high turn-up costs. Every previous SD-WAN approach to the issue of cloud/SaaS access faced challenges and limitations: Fully distributed Internet access delivers lower average latency, but comes with high network security CapEx and OpEx costs, and the core fundamental problem of unreliable and unpredictable access to cloud-based resources Backhauling traffic to HQ/data center involves higher latency for access, and can still have QoE uses with data center link access Cloud-based, distributed security-as-a-service well addresses cost and management costs for security, but still faces the same issues that distributed Internet access has in terms of unreliable and unpredictable “first mile” access to that cloud-based security service of simple tunnels. Virtual IaaS SD-WAN instances do address the reliability and QoE issues (if from a vendor offering failsafe technology) but a) are usually complex to stand up, and b) don’t address the more general issue of SaaS access DIY build your own colocation using failsafe SD-WAN technology does address almost all issues, is perhaps the ideal way for larger enterprises today to do true hybrid private-public cloud computing, but is still not perfect, and more importantly is more effort and infrastructure management than most enterprises want to do Managed cloud gateways also address many of the challenges, but some lock you in to a particular service provider, while other offer limited first/last mile reliability. Talari Cloud Connect: Simple, failsafe cloud/SaaS access Talari Cloud Connect addresses the limitations of all prior approaches. We’ve built a short video detailing how Cloud Connect works. The Talari Cloud Connect platform enables Talari SD-WAN customers to easily, reliably connect to 3rd party services available on the Internet. Cloud Connect POP offers multi-tenant Service Provider software that aggregates Cloud Conduit connections. To maximize the number of SaaS and cloud services partners that take advantage of this technology to provide added value to enterprise customers, Talari is providing this technology free-of-charge to Service Providers to deploy at their POPs and data centers to connect to Talari SD-WAN customers. Cloud Conduits are the failsafe multi-link, multipath connection between customer location and Cloud Connect POP. The Cloud Conduit delivers reliability, visibility, QoS like other conduits on customer’s Talari SD-WAN. Thanks to the shared administration of the Cloud Conduit, besides offering multi-link and reliable connectivity, customers can easily set full inbound and outbound QoS ”fair shares,” etc., since the connection to the POP is two-ended. Talari Cloud Connect delivers multiple use cases: Connecting directly to the POPs/data centers of SaaS providers that deploy Cloud Connect POPs – our multiple UCaaS partnerships, including RingCentral, Pure IP and Evolve IP, are prime examples here Providing reliable, multi-link connectivity to cloud-based services, such as cloud-based network security services – our Meta Networks partnership is doing just this Providing failsafe access to cloud gateways, or cloud private networks offering cost-effective, reliable predictable access to all sites on the Internet – our partnership with Mode is doing just this For more information on this exciting innovation in reliable enterprise access to cloud services and SaaS, see here and here.

Introducing Talari Cloud Connect Today we’re very excited to introduce our newest SD-WAN innovation: Talari Cloud Connect. As enterprises embrace public cloud computing, SaaS, hybrid IT and multi-cloud...

Digital Transformation

CSP Investment in AI and ML Set the Stage for 5G

Inspired by real-world deployments of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (Ml), Oracle recently released GraphPipe into open source—the main purpose of which was the simplification of the deployment and querying of machine learning models for developers, freeing them to choose from a variety of their preferred frameworks and tools. As simplification of AI and ML continues, service providers will more readily derive insight from the enormous amount of data that comes in from millions — and ultimately billions —of network elements, devices, monitors and sensors. If you look at the leaders in the triumvirate of AI, ML and predictive analytics, the most popular applications today revolve around customer-service chatbots, speech and voice services, and more and more around predictive maintenance for cell towers and power lines (i.e., equipment troubleshooting, technician updates). For example, Verizon’s investment in analytics and AI-driven technologies such as ML and chatbots have helped it proactively address hundreds of customer-impacting events related to speed and QoS of its FIOS service. AI-driven monitoring of services and predictive models are helping the company transform gigabytes of data from network elements and monitors into insight about potential issues and interruptions to customers before their customer experience is affected. AT&T is another service provider that has focused on AI-driven voice apps and speech recognition technology for improving customer experience, as well as an impending strategy to build self-healing and self-learning networks. In its most recent move, AT&T began capitalized on FAA approval of drones, using AI and ML for analysis of drone-captured video for tech support and infrastructure maintenance of cell towers—something that could not only reduce costs, but prevent fatalities related to cell-tower maintenance. As cognitive technologies continue to help CSPs automate operations, such as call center processes and outage troubleshooting, they will set the stage for a future of increasingly secure and self-healing networks — a crucial step toward 5G, where AI, ML and predictive analytics will help manage and orchestrate the rapid growth of traffic on mobile networks and IoT’s prodigious data volumes. In that evolution, the interrelationships among AI, ML and analytics will become more important to CSP strategies around customer experience, digital business models and network evolution.  To find out more about the interrelationships of AI, ML priorities, download our recent white paper, “Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are the Future of Communications.”    

Inspired by real-world deployments of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (Ml), Oracle recently released GraphPipe into open source—the main purpose of which was the simplification of...


Three Common UC Headaches You Can Alleviate with a Failsafe SD-WAN

Unified communications (UC) solutions combine a major leap forward in call, video and messaging functionality with an equally big jump up in network performance requirements. As a suite of real-time applications, the modern UC platform stretches the typical WAN to its limits by straining its existing MPLS connections. Routing traffic from hosted VoIP and team collaboration applications over MPLS, especially to branches, is both expensive and inefficient, due to the required bandwidth for functionality beyond simple VoIP, and low margin for error. Then there's the related issue of monitoring path quality for acceptable levels of latency, jitter and packet loss so that calls/conferences don't devolve into echo-fests. On the bright side, some of the most common problems for UC platforms are solvable with failsafe SD-WAN solutions, which alleviate the cost and performance headaches of trying to support real-time services with a traditional WAN. Problem #1: Not enough cost-effective and reliable bandwidth MPLS is the core of many WANs because of its reliability. At the same time, because MPLS bandwidth is so expensive, branch WAN links are usually too thin to handle the bandwidth demands of UC applications. Solution: Bandwidth aggregation within a hybrid WAN An SD-WAN can aggregate bandwidth across different modes of transport. It can be layered over a combination of MPLS and internet connections including broadband and wireless, or even a WAN comprised entirely of Internet connections. A failsafe SD-WAN, in particular, delivers sufficient bandwidth by leveraging inexpensive Internet connections and yet still delivering MPLS-class reliability when doing so. Problem #2: Unpredictable performance of UC apps "Can you hear me now?" was once the somewhat humorous tagline of a famous Verizon commercial, but it's a frequent refrain for anyone enduring subpar UC platform performance. Issues such as latency, jitter and packet loss may barely impact most TCP apps, yet they're game-breakers for VoIP and video. Solution: MPLS-class high availability and QoE. With a failsafe SD-WAN, traffic for real-time applications can be routed over the best paths available at any given moment. Traffic is moved sub-second in the face of WAN congestion issues. Session traffic can even be replicated on two different paths, ensuring a seamless experience for end users, who won't see any interruptions in their sessions even in the face of problems on more than one WAN connection. Problem #3: Extending UC to the branch Branch offices have traditionally lacked the resources, including bandwidth and technical personnel, to support UC deployments. The associated change management can also take considerable time and be quite complex. Solution: Zero-touch provisioning and streamlined management via SD-WAN SD-WAN platforms can greatly simplify branch office deployments, through automated provisioning and simplified security infrastructure. An SD-WAN gives you the added reliability and flexibility to scale your network in a cost-effective fashion as requirements evolve. To learn more about the Talari Network SD-WAN difference, try a demo today or download our free eBook below.

Unified communications (UC) solutions combine a major leap forward in call, video and messaging functionality with an equally big jump up in network performance requirements. As a suite of real-time...

UC and Contact Center

Reducing TCO for UC and Contact Center Networks

Voice is transforming through digital and cloud transformation, with webRTC, video collaboration and unified communications woven into customer journeys inside and outside the contact center. The emergence of unified communications as a service (UCaaS) will further influence requirements IT must evaluate for on prem and cloud environments. As these transformations take place, contact centers should integrate or complement unified communications, but in many cases, contact center networks are fractured—made up of many IP communications platforms, endpoints and services that become difficult to administer. This fosters a reactive rather than proactive approach to managing the network, and IT organizations are forced to put out fires as they erupt as opposed to proactively identifying issues, correlating data and resolving problems. When managing many vendor-specific management applications or general-purpose packet capture and analysis tools, it helps to have comprehensive network monitoring and troubleshooting tools. The can become essential to ensuring service quality and user experiences, especially in complex enterprise UC networks. In fact, third-party management tools can help businesses reduce implementation costs by as much as 76 percent and reduce annual operations expenses by 25 percent. But choosing the right tools can be daunting, as architectures and features vary greatly vendor to vendor. To help streamline the process, Oracle Communications has rolled out a “UC Monitoring and Troubleshootiong Buyer’s Guide,” intended to help organizations choose the right management tools by zeroing in on the foundational capabilities and criteria to seek out in network monitoring and troubleshooting tools. The buyer’s guide reviews the key features and functions of an advanced UC monitoring and troubleshooting solution, providing advice on how to determine if a solution is designed for real-time IP communications sessions, or whether it will provide an end-to-end view of sessions. To assess the functionality, scalability, extensibility and costs of each solution, download the UC buyer’s guide. For more information: White paper: Maximizing Profitability with Cloud Collaboration Enterprise Connect Video: Customer Engagement in the Contact Center

Voice is transforming through digital and cloud transformation, with webRTC, video collaboration and unified communications woven into customer journeys inside and outside the contact center....


TIM Brasil Implements Oracle Session Border Controller as VNF For Increased Agility

TIM Brasil, the Brazilian subsidiary of Telecom Italia, has positioned itself as a leader in 4G and fixed ultra-broadband network markets, with more than 56 million customers and double-digit ARPU growth for this year. With a new brand signature of “Evolution never stops,” TIM is making infrastructure a strategic priority through investments in advanced IP networking technologies and IP services. A large part of its investments have focused on increasing SIP interconnect and peering capabilities with other Brazilian operators to help TIM expand its footprint for Internet, video, voice and cloud services throughout Brazil. As it extends its reach, TIM needs to accommodate an ever-changing array of services and service deployment models, and needed the flexibility and agility to quickly expand and scale as needed. The operator sought a solution that would give it the flexibility to pick and choose different interconnect approaches in different markets while also ensuring security at its borders. In that vein, TIM worked with long-time partner Oracle Communications on virtualizing the Oracle Communications Session Border Controller (OC-SBC), which it had for many years used for SIP trunking and peering. Through its NFV-based data center, TIM implemented the OC-SBC as a virtualized network function (VNF) running on an Oracle-supported bare metal hypervisor from VMWare® (ESXi). Multiple instances of the OC-SBC can now be clustered along with TIM’s existing purpose-built platforms, providing a way to gradually introduce “hybrid clusters,” which offer more deployment flexibility and network agility— and all without compromising the security, interoperability, and reliability of TIM’s purpose-built SBCs. As a service provider in a market as large and dynamic as Brazil, the virtual SBC’s support of all commonly used IP communications enables TIM to peer with a wide range of service providers and to resolve multivendor interoperability and multiprotocol interworking issues. As a result, TIM has shortened innovation cycles and accelerated the introduction of services in competitive markets. Because of the success of this virtualization effort —the SBC being the first virtualized element in TIM’s NFV-based data center—TIM plans to extend this software-based approach to other network functions. To find out more about how Oracle Communications Session Border Controller can enable innovation, reduce capital equipment expenditures and contain ongoing operations expenses, download the following related assets: TIM Brasil Case Study: Oracle Session Border Controllers Accelerate SIP Interconnect Initiative White Paper: Choosing a Future Generation Session Border Controller Platform Trusted Communications Across IP Network Borders

TIM Brasil, the Brazilian subsidiary of Telecom Italia, has positioned itself as a leader in 4G and fixed ultra-broadband network markets, with more than 56 million customers and double-digit ARPU...


Why MPLS and SD-WAN isn’t an Either-Or Situation

"MPLS WAN" vs "Internet WAN" – more specifically, an SD-WAN run entirely over-the-top (OTT) of only public Internet connections – is a common frame when evaluating options for network evolution. There's good reason for pitting these two against each other: MPLS links are low-bandwidth and expensive, while broadband and wireless deliver much greater bandwidth at a enormously lower per-Mbps prices. It's a stark contrast, with MPLS typically being literally a hundred times costlier than broadband Internet connectivity in terms of cost per Mbps. Still, the demise of MPLS has been greatly exaggerated, despite the meteoric growth in SD-WAN solution deployments in the last couple years. Satisfaction with MPLS services has remained high, and MPLS revenues have not fallen off a cliff.  So why is MPLS often framed as something that's definitively on its way out? What's really behind the MPLS doom and gloom Even with the emergence of SD-WANs, MPLS remains on solid footing: According to a 2017 survey by Nemertes Research, 60 percent of respondents planned no changes to their MPLS deployments despite ongoing SD-WAN layering. A separate study by GlobalData revealed that IT professionals were by and large happy with their current MPLS WAN service providers. The near future of MPLS looks strong, especially globally, with a 4.4 percent compound annual growth rate projected between 2016 and 2021. At the same time, the ubiquity and reliability of MPLS are not, by themselves, sufficient reasons to simply maintain the WAN status quo in the context of the ongoing transition to cloud-based services. For example, popular applications like Salesforce, Microsoft Office 365 and hosted VoIP solutions will pass through public networks en route to branches, nullifying much of the reliability and predictability advantages of MPLS. More flexibility is needed, along with a roadmap for scaling the company WAN for increased bandwidth consumption and for evolving traffic patterns. Such shortcomings in MPLS are the roots of the often highly negative outlook for its prospects vis-a-vis SD-WAN. But SD-WAN solutions can actually help resolve these very issues, by serving as enhancements rather than outright replacements for many MPLS-based WANs. There are multiple substantial benefits to augmenting existing MPLS investments with failsafe SD-WAN technology. MPLS plus failsafe SD-WAN equals safe WAN evolution For starters, implementing SD-WAN can bend the cost curve of your WAN. It gives you the option to supplement those thin MPLS links with less pricey alternatives including broadband, LTE and satellite. With a Talari failsafe SD-WAN, you also get MPLS-class high availability and predictable Quality of Experience for all of your applications. That ensures acceptable performance without needing to rip and replace everything in your network architecture. Finally, you align your WAN with the growing preference for cloud computing services. You can support centralized, cloud-based or more distributed security models while having bandwidth to run your most important apps and bandwidth-intensive or performance-sensitive next-generation applications. For more information on MPLS and SD-WAN, check out our previous entry on the subject. Also be sure to request a demo to learn more about how our particular approach to SD-WAN can benefit your operations.

"MPLS WAN" vs "Internet WAN" – more specifically, an SD-WAN run entirely over-the-top (OTT) of only public Internet connections – is a common frame when evaluating options for network...

Customer Experience

Survey Links Modern-Engagement Technologies to Greater CX and Loyalty

Businesses can expect a 25-30-percent increase in loyalty when using modern-engagement channels, such as HD Voice, HD video, screen sharing, and chatbots, according to a recent Oracle Communications survey, Modern Experiences for Connected Consumers: Creating Digital Customer Engagement." In the survey of 5,028 consumers, 70 percent said they would buy more from a brand that provided contextual, personalized customer service, with 79 percent of respondents citing one-click connectivity with a well-informed associate or knowledge worker (i.e., technician, claims agent, loan officer, nurse, etc.) as key to enhanced customer experience. Another key factor cited by respondents for enhanced CX was prompt, first-time resolution to problems, with 77 percent admitting traditional engagement channels “detracted from their lives,” namely through the friction of navigating menus, having to talk to multiple people, and repeating information. For brands looking to eliminate those frustrations and seeking new ways to nurture existing relationships or forge new ones, 76 percent of respondents in the survey agreed they would use a company that promptly gets them to the appropriate individual with a minimal number of menu selections or inconveniences (i.e., waiting for truck rolls, having to drive to offices, stores or branches). Younger consumers and those highly engaged through mobile apps in particular viewed traditional engagement channels and activities as “tedious and inefficient,” with them voicing an eagerness to experience interactions that are more direct and efficient over their mobile devices at times that in-person human contact are not possible. Satisfaction with engagement was highest in-person, with technologies like mobile apps, video chat and web chat topping the list as well. To find out more about what consumers value in terms of modern-engagement channels, see a summary of key findings in our infographic, and in two sister reports: Regions in Focus, which looks at the main reports’ trends across North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand Industry Segments in Focus, which looks at five modern-engagement use cases spanning health care, cable, insurance, and banking (loan and fraud detection) In reading these reports, you will see which technologies can help your brand emotionally connect with customers, improving their perceptions around engagement, value, connectedness, and caring. For more information: New eBook: New Ways to Engage the Connected Consumer Learn more about Oracle Communications modern-engagement technologies Ovum Report: Oracle Live Experience Cloud inserts context across the customer journey Live Experience eBook: Modernize Customer Engagement for the Mobile Generation

Businesses can expect a 25-30-percent increase in loyalty when using modern-engagement channels, such as HD Voice, HD video, screen sharing, and chatbots, according to a recent Oracle Communications...


Oracle Emphasizes Focus on Monetization in Subscription Economy

As companies shift from physical products to digital services, they will need to rapidly design and monetize of offerings across cloud, IoT, and future 5G services. They will have to differentiate their services and convert customers with attractive price points and compelling discounts and offers. That will require sophisticated billing, revenue management, customer lifecycle management, pricing, sales, and support. Oracle Communications has continued to invest in each of those areas, even winning recognition recently for being “uniquely positioned” in a post-Oracle Industry Connect report by IDC that evaluated Oracle Communications’ strategy around monetization of new business models. In particular, IDC noted our triumvirate of solutions: Oracle Monetization Cloud, Billing and Revenue Management and Network Charging and Control —a monetization suite that complements greater Oracle’s ERP applications and pre-integrated, easily provisioned SaaS options. Soon after the report, Oracle Communications announced major new enhancements to its Billing and Revenue Management, including new operational user experience features, enhanced security capabilities and updated technology platform support. Of particular importance to digital communications services would be the complete revenue management capabilities that are built to accommodate high-volume, low-latency, and convergent-usage processing. The Elastic Charging Engine will support advanced charging models for mobile, fixed and cable digital services as well as lay a foundation for IoT and future 5G services. For more information: Download the IDC monetization report. Also check out our recent study on creating digital engagement in the age of the connected consumer. And learn more about our major new enhancements to its Billing and Revenue Management, including new operational user experience features, enhanced security capabilities and updated technology platform support.

As companies shift from physical products to digital services, they will need to rapidly design and monetize of offerings across cloud, IoT, and future 5G services. They will have to...


Communications-Enabled AI Will Drive Automation, Personalization

With artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), businesses will become more adaptive, real-time, predictive and cognitive—moving away from manual, process-centric approaches to completely automated, data-driven ones that will set the stage for prescriptive and predictive analytics, and a future of autonomous capabilities that will add value to services, interactions, collaborations and relationships. Whether in personal, work or B2C and B2B environments, the predictive capabilities triggered by advances in AI and ML will mean more personalized and value-driven approaches to everything we do. Netflix is experimenting with AI-powered algorithms for personalized movie trailers; automotive companies are thinking about the ways in which cars can transcend transportation and become full-blown IoT devices that entertain, inform and connect people to other devices and collective intelligence; health care providers are improving not only patient outcomes but enhancing the work-life balance of healthcare professionals using AI; airlines are transforming the passenger experience and revolutionizing the detection of anomalies in aircraft. The goals are to remove friction, to automate, personalize, secure, and add value. To succeed, businesses will need to more effectively capture "context" so that a person’s real intentions and preferences are actually reflected in the digital channels and options presented to them. As that happens, businesses will have to provide better interfaces for customers to dynamically change and control their preferences about interactions, devices, channels of engagement and relationships with third parties, as well as what information that can and cannot be shared at certain times, in certain places. These will change as people evolve and become more comfortable or less comfortable with certain technologies, interactions and third-party relationships. For an enterprise to be truly AI-centric, every aspect of the business will require communications in order to enable a better customer experience; accelerate digital business; and improve networks and security.

With artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), businesses will become more adaptive, real-time, predictive and cognitive—moving away from manual, process-centric approaches to completely...

Digital Transformation

Top-Five Requirements for a Successful Digital Transformation

Our world is experiencing a digital transformation that is fundamentally reinventing the customer experience, upending traditional business models and operations, and placing greater demands on network and cloud infrastructure. According to the World Economic Forum, digital transformation is a $2.3 Trillion opportunity in the telecommunications and media sectors alone. But it is more than that for communications service providers and enterprises offering digital service platforms because you have a critical role to play in enabling the digital transformation of all industries. Why? Because you provide the communications networks, Internet of Things platforms, and cloud infrastructure, applications and services that help enterprises deliver digital services. More than $10 Trillion of value from digitalization over the next decade depends on the telecom industry. As enterprises and service providers undergo digital transformation, there will be a number of challenges to conquer, including how to: Scale, manage and secure billions of transactions and zettabytes of complex data generated by digital services and content; Manage billions of devices and machines as more people and ‘things’ become connected and communicate with each other; Simplify and automate network functions and operational processes; Monetize and secure digital services and customer data using a wide array of usage and subscription models; and Create more personalized, "live" customer experiences across any digital channel. Here are my top-five requirements to meet these challenges and ensure a successful digital transformation: 1. Connect the Dots There are three key pillars to a successful digital transformation journey — Network Evolution, Digital Business and Customer Experience. By ensuring that your transformation efforts encompass all three pillars in a holistic way, you will be able to connect, monetize, and engage your customers to create new digital experiences. For example, video optimization in the network will improve the monetization of video content as well as the customer’s video experience. End-to-end security, policy, customer data management and analytics across all three pillars can bring the digital experience to a whole new level. 2. Integrate. Integrate. Integrate. Integrated cloud and communications infrastructure, platforms, and services with service-based architectures and open application programming interfaces are essential as more people, devices, and “things” connect, communicate, and transact with each other. This requires that you simplify, virtualize, automate, and integrate network functions and IT operational processes in an on-premise, public, private or hybrid cloud environment. It also requires security at every layer — from data center, silicon chip, database, network, application — to complete monitoring and self-remediation against security policies. And finally, it requires integration of Enterprise Resource Planning, Customer Experience, and IoT platforms with monetization and communications applications to connect your entire business — people, processes, and things — to deliver successful digital services. 3. Provide a Complete Concept-to-Cash-to-Care Customer Experience Successful digital organizations put customer experience at the center of every process and operation in their digital transformation journey. They deliver a personalized, contextual and meaningful experience to customers across the entire customer engagement lifecycle, from concept-to-cash-to care. This requires a 360-degree view of what each customer is experiencing, which can be achieved by collecting, analyzing and acting on data at every touch point — from network nodes to mobile apps to social media to self-service to contact centers. By engaging customers on the right channel at the right time, having access to contextual customer data and insights, and quickly resolving customer issues, empowered associates can deliver meaningful and proactive engagement for a better customer experience. Cloud-based customer experience solutions with integrated monetization capabilities will ensure the smooth on-boarding of new customers, with the ability to create, rate, bill, invoice and report on new digital service offers. 4. Deliver Innovative Digital Services Innovation is critical in designing digital services. This can mean providing an all-digital service or a product-as-a-service enabled by digital channels. Either way, the flexibility to design innovative offers that provide customers with choices in how to pay for and consume services is key — whether it’s a recurring subscription, consumption-based pricing, pay-as-you-go charging, freemium pricing, cross-product discounts, bundling services together in different combinations, or charging based on creative metrics. The name of the game is having the flexibility to evolve quickly as market conditions change. Predictive analytics that take advantage of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), social listening, and Big Data can help service providers and enterprises present compelling offers based on past behaviors, respond rapidly to social sentiment, and deliver real-time views of business performance. 5. Take Advantage of the Latest Technology Innovations Innovations such as highly scalable and reliable cloud and 4G/5G mobility infrastructure and platforms, AI, ML, biometrics, and blockchain are all part of ensuring a successful digital transformation journey. Integrated Cloud and mobile network infrastructure will need to scale, store, and secure more data, more connections and more transactions. The use of AI in everything from customer service chat bots and robotics to analytics, will allow service providers and enterprises to deliver customer experiences in ways that are both personalized and automated. ML will shift the burden from the user to the applications, which must find the right answers even if the user asks the wrong questions. It will also provide meaningful insights based on data from devices and applications. Biometrics like emotion and behavior recognition will further personalize customer engagements. Knowing what people want to buy or how they want to be treated based on their emotions and behaviors will allow for more effective communications. And finally, Blockchain technology will make value transactions like payments, sharing IoT and customer data and identity, and tracking customer purchases and billing both instantaneous and secure. The future belongs to those organizations that can meet these top-five requirements and capture the trillions of dollars in digital transformation opportunities. Learn more about how Oracle Communications is helping service providers and enterprises in their Digital Transformation journey: For more information: Read the whitepaper: Accelerating Your Digital Transformation Journey: From Network Evolution to Digital Business to Customer Experience The Economist: Pricing strategies and business models for the on-demand economy Monetization as a Competitive Advantage: New Services, New Opportunities Ovum: 10 Imperatives for Digital Customer Engagement The Future of Enterprise Communications: The Cloud Redefines Customer Experience The Forrester Wave™: Digital Experience Platforms, Q3 2017

Our world is experiencing a digital transformation that is fundamentally reinventing the customer experience, upending traditional business models and operations, and placing greater demands on...


What is Digital Transformation, and How Can SD-WAN Help?

Digital transformation is one of the most discussed trends affecting today's enterprises, but what does this nebulous term actually mean? The "digital" in the name isn't just an empty signifier, as it refers in part to how organizations are modernizing their internal and external communications. For example, many are replacing analog private branch exchanges (PBXs) with digital unified communications (UC) solutions in the cloud, which are much more versatile, scalable and cost-effective. At the same time, these UC platforms have particular performance requirements – for apps like VoIP and video – that traditional WANs cannot meet: Since legacy WANs are predominantly MPLS-based, they frequently have low bandwidth per site, and can take weeks or months to provision new locations. Visibility is limited. It's easy to miss many different issues across the network until it's too late, including bottlenecks from limited MPLS capacity and uncertainty about the security of cloud-bound traffic. They're not optimized for cloud, even though cloud services including UC might have already accounted for half of WAN traffic by 2017. Old-fashioned WANs are insular, difficult to scale and inordinately expensive because of the high price per megabit for MPLS. Enter failsafe software-defined WANs (SD-WANs). SD-WAN solutions simplify the management of networks in a similar way to how graphical user interfaces streamline the experience of using a computer: by disguising the underlying complexity with point-and-click simplicity. Accordingly, they deliver benefits for cost control, application performance, IT agility and network security during digital transformation projects. Failsafe SD-WAN solutions deliver all these SD-WAN benefits without sacrificing the high WAN availability and predictable application performance (a.k.a. QoE, or Quality of Experience) that users and WAN Managers are accustomed to from their MPLS WANs, even as Internet links are leveraged to augment or replace those expensive MPLS connections. How SD-WAN platforms fuel digital transformation SD-WAN is a key infrastructure piece that fits perfectly into the digital transformation puzzle, alongside cloud computing, UC, software-defined networking, network functions virtualization and similar technologies. Instead of a WAN locked in to a particular carrier and to long provisioning times and cumbersome manual management processes, enterprise have more agile, cost-effective infrastructure that enables leverage of the cloud for agile, cost-effective computing services. Zero-touch provisioning embodies the transformative capabilities of SD-WAN. Network policies, device configurations, update instructions and much more can be pre-configured and pushed to literally thousands of sites, all from a single pane of glass. It's a far cry from the error-prone days of needing to wait around for an administrator to manually complete the same task. This level of agility means sites and their teams are easier than ever to support. Digital transformation projects are more likely to pay dividends if they include failsafe SD-WANs that ensure that the QoE of the applications passing through it. Talari Networks offers a failsafe SD-WAN engine for fueling worthwhile digital transformation. Learn more by requesting a product demo today and viewing the ebook linked below.

Digital transformation is one of the most discussed trends affecting today's enterprises, but what does this nebulous term actually mean? The "digital" in the name isn't just an empty signifier, as it...


SD-WAN’s Critical Role in Modern EMS/911 Systems

Although it seems like something that's a permanent feature of the phone system, 911 is a relatively recent innovation. This year actually marks the 50th anniversary of the first 911 call, between two Alabama politicians. Nearly a quarter billion 911 calls are now made each year in the U.S., with up to 80 percent of them via mobile devices in many locations, according to the National Emergency Number Association. In this context, next-generation 911 (NG911) platforms must improve failover and caller location, while retaining the life-saving reliability usually associated with legacy 911. Software-defined WAN technologies make these goals realistic. They support converged IP network infrastructure for voice as well as data services, providing access to bandwidth across multiple links for real-time adaptability and predictable performance. How 911 systems have changed since the 1960s Traditionally, 911 networks were built on circuit-switched TDM. Public safety answering points (PSAPs) relied on path diversity to minimize possible points of failure in TDM-based networks, but today they face significant challenges to performance, such as: Slow failover to backup circuits, in situations when each second can be the difference between life and death. No support for text messages, photos or videos, at a time when over 80 percent of Americans have mobile phones. Relatively poor location accuracy, unless you're using a landline. Mobile callers transmit nothing to PSAPs except their phone numbers. Enter next-gen 911: NG911 is superior to old-fashioned 911 on all three counts, due to its basis in packet-switched networking, which allows it to meet new requirements for accuracy and multimedia support among an increasingly mobile caller base. As such, it's the ideal solution to the response challenges created by wireless devices, assuming it has sufficient underlying infrastructure for distributed call control, acceptable responsiveness and high reliability. An SD-WAN can serve as the guarantor of a NG911 implementation by ensuring a failsafe last mile, empowering dispatchers and increasing the value of its IT investments. The benefits of SD-WAN for next-gen 911 systems Every fraction of a second matters in 911 response. A Talari SD-WAN rises to the occasion by offering unidirectional measurement of jitter, latency and packet loss, enabling sub-second response to any issues around the network, as well as packet and flow replication. Accordingly, mission-critical traffic for applications such as VoIP and video can be securely directed down the best possible paths at a given moment, regardless of their underlying transport. PSAPs can leverage options such as Metro Ethernet, MPLS, commodity Internet and T1, in accordance with their current investments, budgets and performance requirements. Many municipalities have shifted to NG911 in recent years, including some of the most populous counties in the country. Proposed legislation in the U.S. Senate has even focused national attention on the need for "the advanced functionality, interoperability and capabilities that come with the adoption of new, digital communications technologies" in 911 systems. With SD-WAN, this transition to more effective 911 is within reach. Click the banner below to find out more about how a Talari Networks SD-WAN can make safe, secure and scalable NG911 into a reality.

Although it seems like something that's a permanent feature of the phone system, 911 is a relatively recent innovation. This year actually marks the 50th anniversary of the first 911 call, between two...


SD-WAN Benefits for Modern Financial Applications

You've probably heard Benjamin Franklin's famous quote "time is money," but nowhere is its truth better revealed than in modern financial networks, which have been built from the ground up to reduce latency and boost profitability. Every decision related to their design, from where each electronic trading platform is located to how its TCP/IP stack is set up, is influenced by the goal of lowering latency, especially for high frequency trading (HFT). Even outside the uniquely demanding environments of HFT, similar considerations about latency, packet loss and jitter inform the architectural choices of all financial services provider wide area networks (WAN). For example, just a slight increase in packet loss will dramatically reduce throughput, degrading the experience for employees as well as the customers they serve, according to NetCraftsmen. SD-WAN in Finance: A Key Piece in the New Performance Puzzle With that in mind, let's look at the specific software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) benefits for today's financial institutions. SD-WAN offers a comprehensive solution for more reliable, agile and cost-effective services, even as business models evolve and new challenges such as blockchain and the Internet of Things (IoT) enter the picture. It can deliver: Cutting-Edge Branch Operations The various HFT optimizations we mentioned earlier represent just one side of how financial network WANs are customized for speedier performance in finance. Via SD-WAN solutions, these adjustments make pay off in the form of enhanced consultative and advisory operations at branches. There has long been debate about the decline of bank branches. A CACI study projected bank branch traffic would decline 36 percent from 2017 to 2022 as mobile banking replaced many of the essential branch functions. However, DepositAccounts has estimated the number of branches per institution actually rose from 2004 to 2016 amid industry consolidation. Overall, branches remain pivotal in the delivery of specific products such as auto and home loans. Instead of placing dedicated staff at branch offices without the budgets or foot traffic to justify them, many banks and credit unions have turned to telepresence instead. Video conferencing and augmented/virtual reality applications will continue to redefine these experiences. SD-WAN can ensure their viability by tapping virtually unlimited bandwidth pools supported by commodity Internet links. Plus, its path and session layer intelligence enable quick adaptability to congestion that would otherwise jeopardize performance, not to mention customer satisfaction. Future-Proofing for Blockchain and IoT Both blockchain and the IoT present significant challenges in scaling. These obstacles threaten to reduce the utility of new digital currencies and IP-enabled devices for financial institutions: For example, the average Bitcoin transaction takes 43 minutes to clear. Cryptocurrencies in general struggle with widespread adoption and with the protective services consumers are accustomed to with their payment cards. The financial IoT could encompass billions of devices designed to enhance credit assessments, insurance policies and much more. But performance and security issues, highlighted by the recent KRACK exploit in WPA2, remain front and center. While an SD-WAN alone will not solve these problems, it offers a more resilient and future-proof foundation for the network. Its compatibility with any type of transport, along with immersive connectivity that is both link and carrier agnostic, combined with its security integrations and its WAN link intelligence, provide a smooth trip for key application traffic, with risk to low latency, packet loss and jitter mitigated. Learn more by scheduling a demo today.

You've probably heard Benjamin Franklin's famous quote "time is money," but nowhere is its truth better revealed than in modern financial networks, which have been built from the ground up to reduce...


SD-WAN Complements Session Boarder Controllers and Unified Communications

As enterprises replace conventional private branch exchange (PBX) systems with VoIP, Unified Communications (UC) solutions and cloud services, network solution vendors like Talari have an opportunity to capture advantages that are more than a feature check off. The networks that the Talari SD-WAN monitors and manages become even more business-critical, as communication transitions from TDM to IP, and on-premises to the hybrid-cloud. As business becomes more virtual, with more users communicating and interacting from anywhere and anytime, enterprise IP networks need to be safeguarded by securing UC, and assuring the highest levels of service quality. For enterprise communications, the lines between work, home and in-bound and around are becoming completely blurred. User devices have created an environment where location is no longer bound by walls or distance. IT infrastructure cannot become a barrier or obstruction, and the technology suppliers that successfully unlock those barriers will be the dominant market players. For SD-WAN vendors, supporting SIP (the predominant signaling protocol for IP communications) that enables seamless communications, and supports business policies and rule enforcement, will more than likely become a must-have capability. Session Boarder Controllers (SBCs) are the source and destination appliances for all signaling messages and media streams entering and leaving a service provider’s network. Talari’s intelligent-edge appliances work as a gateway for bi-directional data and control, enabling enterprises and service providers to streamline operations, and more easily manage diverse communications for enterprise WANs. When combined with Talari’s centrally managed controller, service providers can optimize their UC solutions by blending SD-WAN with service-chained SBC functions, to include features such as: SIP interoperability Automated detection Service-quality monitoring Proactive troubleshooting Secure communications One of the biggest benefits of an SBC is managing SIP interoperability within multi-vendor environments. An SD-WAN integrated with an SBC that controls SIP traffic could offer advantages for service providers to support customers with AI-chatbots, messaging apps, instant messaging, voice, mobility, audio, web, video conferencing, fixed-mobile convergence, desktop sharing, data sharing, call control and speech recognition (e.g., unified communications). SBCs assist policy administrators in managing the flow of session data across borders, and can provide measurement, access control and data conversion for the calls they control. SBCs allow network operators to manage calls made on their networks, fix or change protocols and protocol syntax to achieve interoperability, and overcome some of the problems that firewalls and NATs present for VoIP calls. SBCs are inserted into the signaling and/or media paths of VoIP calls, predominantly using SIP, H.323 and MGCP call-signaling protocols. An SBC manages signaling between two VoIP systems, establishing the parameters for a successful call. They are typically deployed in VoIP and multi-media networks to provide control over the signaling, as well as the media streams involved in setting up, conducting and tearing down telephone calls or other interactive media communications. An enterprise SBC (E-SBC) can be located and managed from within the enterprise, and managed by internal IT staff for VoIP, Unified Communications, media video conferencing, and can manage multiple service providers and cloud platforms. Other E-SBC capabilities: Redirect media traffic to different elements within the network, for recording, generating music-on-hold, and other purposes. Modify the stream of call control (signaling) data; for example, limiting the kinds of calls that can be made, changing the codec choices, and so forth. Hide network topology to protect the service provider or enterprise packet network, by terminating a received call, and initiating a second call leg to the destination party. When used within the SIP protocol, this is called a back-to-back user agent (B2BUA). Voice and video apps and the Internet The quality of voice and video applications running over the public Internet can vary significantly, depending on available bandwidth, the number of simultaneous users, and how the various applications and their functions impact network performance by adding latency and packet loss. Although Internet and the many broadband networks, such as xDSL, Cable, 3G/4G, Wireless, Satellite and others, are cost-effective compared to dedicated circuits such as MPLS, they transmit only on a best-effort basis in which all traffic have equal priority, and varying degrees of quality for voice and video applications. Voice and video traffic is reliable and secure over closed networks such as PSTN. But voice and video traffic over the Internet is vulnerable to disruptive and fraudulent behavior like identity theft, viruses, spam, unauthorized use, and others. When voice and video traffic run across Internet and broadband-based edge networks without Talari SD-WAN, they potentially face network congestion, jitter, packet loss and service outages.

As enterprises replace conventional private branch exchange (PBX) systems with VoIP, Unified Communications (UC) solutions and cloud services, network solution vendors like Talari have an opportunity...


The Last Mile of Bandwidth Access: Creating a High-Performance VDI Environment

Your virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) delivers substantial benefits to your business: It supports your BYOD initiatives and boosts employee mobility, while helping to lower IT management costs. VDI also improves security by eliminating endpoint data storage and enabling centralized desktop management and control. It even provides the legs your company may need to keep critical 32-bit legacy apps standing in a 64-bit OS world. However, given that VDI often runs over a hyperconverged or hybrid-cloud IT infrastructure, network congestion and edge disruption may lead to end-user complaints about remote connectivity problems and degraded experiences. Packet loss, jitter and latency all take their toll on sensitive VDI applications, hurting real-time performance and leaving workers to grapple with slow log-ins, tiling or frozen screens, unresponsive sessions and lag-times around mouse and keyboard inputs. Network downtime and poor quality performance can have a negative impact not only on business users’ experiences but also on the key processes for which they’re responsible. Remote desktop virtualization in its various forms, including VDI, will power the digital workplace, Gartner says—an environment it describes as VDI’s ability to “maximize the creative potential of the workforce and allow new ways of working that deliver better business outcomes.” In another report, Gartner encourages enterprise architects to increase network bandwidth and resilience, and plan for reduced latency tolerance as organizations move to VDI and as users depend increasingly on the network for IT functionality. Take the High Road with Failsafe SD-WAN   Businesses can move toward VDI with the help of failsafe SD-WAN technology that assures high availability, elastic bandwidth and scalable throughput for last-mile branch-office connections between the data center and virtual desktops. With a failsafe SD-WAN in place, users’ workdays won’t be disrupted, waiting for application access, responses and screen refreshes—even in high-scale environments serving scores of remote and mobile workers and under the most demanding conditions, such as running graphics-rich software with complex screen renderings. SD-WAN intelligence makes it possible to improve users’ VDI experiences by picking the network traffic path that has the least one-way packet loss, jitter and latency—and continuously monitoring it to immediately redirect traffic if quality dips. Equally important to enable uninterrupted performance is that SD-WANs can efficiently retransmit lost packets without degradation to the VDI session. Advanced SD-WAN solutions like Talari’s manage all that, while keeping VDI session responsiveness high with support for packet-by-packet duplication that drives down latency and lost packets. Thanks to its dynamic bandwidth management, An SD-WAN also enables high-priority applications to take precedence over others when network congestion rears its head. The opportunity also is evident with failsafe SD-WAN technology like Talari’s to maximize network capacity and performance by augmenting the enterprise’s traditional MPLS WAN circuits with inexpensive broadband connections without compromising quality SD-WAN Mitigates Risk of VDI Slack A recent survey conducted by Talari shows that 95 percent of companies rely on the WAN for their most important enterprise tasks. A key beneficiary of Talari’s SD-WAN technology for a VDI initiative is Dayton Superior, a $400 million supplier of concrete construction supplies headquartered in Dayton, OH. “We’re aggressively moving toward VDI with VMware, and Talari will help us improve performance,” says Dave Badgley, senior systems engineer. WAN optimization appliances don’t help in this scenario, since the VDI traffic is already encrypted and compressed. But Talari provides Dayton Superior with the quality of service and sustained bandwidth IT needs to meet service-level agreements for VDI and other essential business applications, assuring that they take the best quality path over the network at all times. Badgley notes that even if a network problem occurs, desktop virtualization applications don’t drop and users don’t have to reconnect. “Users,” he says, “have a better experience with Talari.” Learn More Many Talari customers are enjoying the flexibility benefits of reliable last mile bandwidth for VDI. You can find out more on how to provide superior support for your VDI infrastructure and enable the best-quality user experiences in the white paper, “Take the Frustration out of VDI.” This Talari video will give you additional insight into how a Talari SD-WAN ensures that your users can depend on a quality VDI application experience.

Your virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) delivers substantial benefits to your business: It supports your BYOD initiatives and boosts employee mobility, while helping to lower IT management costs....


The History of WAN

Very good expensive WANs have moved from rock solid service on point-to-point leased circuits that carried real regulatory weight and consequences for reliability to less reliable packet switch technologies with QoS but with substantially weaker SLAs and consequences for failure to meet the SLA. IPSec/SSL VPNs over broadband are good for some data users but the broadband connections they use at remote offices are via providers and networks that have issues with network availability, are frequently oversubscribed, and have unpredictable performance for latency, loss, and jitter. These networks are not reliable enough on their own for most business quality voice and mission critical data needs. The availability and the amount of bandwidth of broadband have continued expand while the cost per bit continues to be lower. Network applications and users have continued to evolve to be more forgiving of less “than a pin drop” quality service  but are ever more demanding for more bandwidth. And they want their access to the internet and the cloud on their own terms with their own devices but on your constrained WAN budget. The IT team is held accountable to the company and the users for its own SLA. In the end, providing for reliable, cost effective WAN services to the enterprise and  end users and has shifted from the service provider’s problem to the enterprise IT team themselves. The burden has grown and the odds are less in your favor. How can we change those odds so the enterprise has a higher probable solution for success while still containing costs and improving user access to ever more bandwidth? Expensive, deterministic technology evolves to redundant, inexpensive, highly probabilistic technology A pendulum consistently swings in the world of technology evolution. Technology typically starts in its first generation as a highly engineered, expensive, deterministic solution. Soon, as the market place evolves with greater competition, the need for cost reductions pushes the pendulum to a much more inexpensive solution that is less deterministic and more probabilistic in nature. The initial low cost solution is frequently too unreliable for many mission critical uses and so the market is driven to improve the odds. As the market continues to mature, the technology is enhanced to swing back (retrograde) to at a higher probabilistic solution where the likelihood of failure is less but the economic cost still at a reasonable. When we use the term deterministic, the meaning is that the outcome of the technology’s use is predestined prior to its use. There is little to no variability or chance that it will work differently than its predetermined outcome. When we use the term probabilistic technology, the meaning is that the outcome is not entirely determined prior to its use. There exists some chance that the technology may not perform well and the outcome is only really determined by empirically observing its actual use (heuristic). Low probabilistic technology is a relative measure that there exists a substantial chance the technology may not perform well enough for its needed typical use. Higher probabilistic technology is relative measure where the typical use of the technology has a very high chance of being satisfactory to most typical use cases. Why, you may be wondering, would anybody not want to use deterministic technology at all times? The simple answer is: Because probabilistic technology is almost always very much less expensive and therefore more plentiful than expensive deterministic technology. When a probabilistic cheap alternative is developed it is able to be utilized by more consumers resulting in a rapidly expanding market. The probabilistic technology is cheap but the chance of it performing reliably enough is too low for many use cases that evolved in the more deterministic time prior. By utilizing techniques, such as redundancies and greater optimizing for the intended typical use cases, the chances of successful outcomes with the probabilistic technology may be enhanced to be more acceptable for the greater market. This improvement in the probability of success does come at some additional incremental costs but the cost is significantly less than the prior available deterministic alternative. Let’s look at a few non networking historical examples: Mainframes were/are expensive. Today they can cost from a hundred thousand dollars to millions of dollars per unit. Because of the expense and the criticality of their function to the users they were/are highly engineered for up time and deterministic outcomes. Down time is measured in seconds per year. With the arrival of the microprocessor based personal computer the client/server world was born. PCs, even in the first generation, were relatively cheap at a few thousand dollars each. Many companies moved to use the PC platforms as cheap alternatives to expensive mainframes. Soon it became evident that an off the shelf PC acting as a server was not up to the task for most enterprise users. Typical PCs running server software were not reliable enough for mission critical use. They were cheap but they failed far too often. So enhancements were made to increase the redundancies and robustness within the server, at some higher incremental cost, to increase probability of solution being reliable. To cite a few, redundant array of inexpensive hard drives (RAID) were introduced, redundant power supplies, battery backup systems were added, the central processors, buses and memories (ECC) were improved for reliability. These enhancements came at some additional costs but, even with these additions, the costs of the higher probabilistic servers were substantially less than the prior mainframe deterministic equivalent. Mainframes still exist and are used for many of our everyday mission critical needs but the microprocessor servers are a permanent player in the marketplace. Another example is computer memories. In the 1980s, the race was on to increase the speed of all computer memories. The reason was that the CPU speeds had advanced beyond the rate that the memories could feed them data. The CPUs were stalling waiting for the memories to provide data to process. Memories were pushing the limits of physics and budgets. This resulted in very expensive Static RAM (SRAM) technology. Having 10 nanosecond access SRAMs was a very deterministic approach to computer processing but it came at great expense. The cost per unit of SRAM is a thousand or more times per unit as compared to Dynamic RAM (DRAM). The dedicated SRAMs worked very well and were deterministic. It was possible to do mathematical static modeling of algorithms and pre determine the performance but the costs were exorbitant and prohibitive for anything but very special use cases. The cheaper probabilistic approach was to implement a CPU cache. Cache methods apply a limited amount of SRAMs as fast access fetch storage over top of much cheaper and slower DRAM. That said, processor caches are not deterministic. There are some algorithms, for example memory scans, that run worse in a CPU with memory caches than if the CPU had no caches at all, but for typical use cases, caches provide a decent high probability that the data the CPU needs will be there when it is required without stalling the CPU for long durations. Larger caches further increase the probability of data being ready in Cache with fewer CPU stalls as a result. First implementations of cache on Intel computers used separate external SRAMs to the CPU. Later the cache was integrated into the CPU to minimize I/O bus width and latency. When cache misses where considered still too costly, a second tier of cache was added. This L2 cache was typically bigger than the L1 cache but provided a second level of probabilistic tech that reduced potential for misses for the L1 and L2. L2 caches also reduced the consequence of missing the L1 cache, since the memory requests could be frequently served from the lower latency L2 cache as compared to the much slower DRAM. For many processors, the L2 cache was eventually added into the CPU die as well. So the pattern applies again. Deterministic costly technology is replaced with cheaper intelligent probabilistic technology using redundancy and optimization techniques. The same pattern can be seen with DASDs to NAS Appliances, TCP/IP networks over SNA, Web browsing over 3270/VT100 terminals, Virtual Machines over dedicated servers, cloud over data centers, quality of digital mobile phones over analog mobile phones, WAN optimization over local site file servers, remote desktop (RDI) over local PCs, and many more instances. Interesting, maybe, but what does this have to do with my WANs? The evolution of private WANs: LANs and WANs converge Plain, old, slow, regulated, expensive but quality WAN service In the mid to late 1970s and 1980s, enterprises created wide area networks with interconnecting sets of dedicated leased circuits using T1s and later T3s.  These Time Division Multiplex (TDM) point to point leased circuits were originally developed for digital voice (telecom) but served reasonably well for data communication (datacom).  The circuits were deterministic but expensive per bit.   The payloads were fixed and cells were the rule since the bandwidth was low and large frames could potentially cause substantial voice blocking and jitter.  What we now refer to as plain old telephone service (POTS) provided by phone switch telephone network providers (PSTN) is remembered for its high quality voice and data services over long distances.  For example, Sprint marketed the quality of their long distance voice service with the ability to audibly hear a pin drop over long distances phone calls.  The quality of the network was supported end to end.   If you sent a packet into the network at one side, it was coming out the other side with extremely high confidence. You paid for a TDM time slot in the network and you got it if you needed to use it.  On the other hand if you did not need to use the network, you paid for it anyway.  “Use it or lose it” was the arrangement. This and others factors resulted in the networks being reliable but, by today’s standards, relatively expensive. Enterprise shift from deterministic, hierarchical, centralized mainframe systems to decentralize, fast, inexpensive probabilistic LAN networks Meanwhile at the enterprise, in the 1980s- 1990s the enterprise data centers were evolving away from hub and spoke mainframe centric datacom networks toward local area networks (LANs) which utilized common shared network infrastructure with much higher speeds and much lower cost per bit. The economy of collectively using shared resources started driving a new generation of applications and data movement models such as client server and peer to peer. Technologies such as CDMA, Ethernet, LAN hubs, and LAN switches demonstrated that, for most uses, probabilistic LAN technology was good enough for many enterprises’ needs in terms of quality and the cost were low enough where they could afford to provide it to more user and for more diverse uses. CoS/QoS improves probability, but more bandwidth is easier Local area network technologies were enhanced to make them relatively higher probabilistic.  Methods such as token passing, priority queue (PQ) tagging and non-blocking layer 2 switches were developed.  For many enterprises, most local area networks issues of low quality service on the network could be dealt with the simple approach of just adding more bandwidth to eliminate congestion points. In the 1990s, it was common for LAN technology to grow in capacity by 10 times every few years. Local area networks were able to increase in speed more rapidly, as compared to wide area networks, because the shorter distances permitted the use of cheaper high speed copper technologies that are not viable over the longer haul wide area networks. LAN economics and WAN worlds converge, WANs become more probabilistic In the 90s and early 2000s, the worlds of enterprise telecom wide areas networks and datacom local area networks started to converge with the emergence of CLEC and the ending of the days of regulation.  The change was accelerated by the wide adoption of the Internet Protocol (IPv4) as the de facto standard for all networks LAN or WAN for OSI layer 3 and up over alternatives such as SNA, IPX, OSI, and other alternatives. New packet switched WAN technologies were developed, such as ATM, SMDS, Frame Relay, and eventually MPLS that were friendlier to variable packet sizes and higher speed with less cost per bit but are probabilistic as compared to the deterministic leased circuit services used prior. The capacity of the service providers access points greatly increased by the adoption of fiber service within provider’s infrastructure.  These speed improvements were brought to some enterprises customer premises where customers could gain access to OC3 (155 Mbps), OC12 (633 Mbps) and OC24 (2.4 Gbps) but the cost of these services to the enterprises was very high as compared to the equivalent speed improvements in available to LAN. The availability of these high speed optical circuits was limited to a small set of geographic locations.  At the remote offices the WANs stayed slow and expensive. But at least they have Service Level Agreements…Or did they? (Note to the international reader: In this section we refered to historical patterns as they pertain to the United States market.  Many of these same patterns may have or may not have happened in other national markets.  The trends notes are relevant to the overall evolution of networking and the underlying approach to technology.)

Very good expensive WANs have moved from rock solid service on point-to-point leased circuits that carried real regulatory weight and consequences for reliability to less reliable packet...


MPLS Versus Carrier Ethernet: What's The Right Choice?

When it comes to choices for WAN connectivity, it more often than not boils down to two choices: MPLS or carrier Ethernet. With this in mind, many enterprises are wondering which is best for their needs, and how the deployment of one over the other will impact their overall network. Let’s take a look: MPLS MPLS services, which typically refer to Layer-3 IP VPNs, enable connectivity through carrier peer and customer edge routers, where communications take place at the IP network layer, TechTarget contributor Johna Till Johnson wrote. MPLS lines are often leveraged to connect branch offices to the corporate data center, or to other branch locations. Overall, approximately 67 percent of companies leverage MPLS in their WAN in this way, and another 52 percent utilize it as an interconnection for multiple data centers. 67 percent of companies leverage MPLS in their WAN. MPLS services can offer numerous advantages for WAN connectivity, including the ability to support any-to-any traffic patterns, such as those used by voice and video applications. MPLS also includes inherent Quality of Service support, enabling users to specify limits for the packet loss, jitter and latency for each traffic type. Ethernet Ethernet, a Layer-2 protocol enabling routing control, comes with its own benefits for WAN connectivity. TechTarget contributor Paul Kirvan pointed out that not only is Ethernet an increasingly cost-effective option for the WAN, but these services are also incredibly versatile, as they can connect with synchronous optical network and synchronous digital hierarchy WANs. Ethernet also provides benefits when it comes to speed. While 10 GbE has traditionally been the standard, higher speeds – including 40 or 100 GbE – are now available. In this way, companies that consume considerable bandwidth resources and require low latency can select a higher protocol to ensure speed of service. Thanks to its low-latency and high-throughput capabilities, Ethernet is typically used to interconnect data center networks. In addition, it is often ideal for supporting disaster recovery needs. Selecting the best option Even with these considerations in mind, it can be difficult to choose between MPLS and Ethernet. Both have been viable connectivity options for years, and are not expected to disappear anytime in the near future, even with available alternatives. TechTarget contributor Tess Parmenter pointed out that each option has distinct differences and advantages when it comes to cost, scalability, routing, management and availability. Depending on the needs of the business, its current network topology and future requirements, either solution can offer the connectivity users are seeking. Thankfully, with an SD-WAN solution in place, companies don’t have to choose between one or the other. SD-WAN technology enables a business to make the most of all of its available links – be they MPLS service or Ethernet – to provide a seamless, continual connection and top-notch application performance. With an SD-WAN in place like Talari’s Failsafe SD-WAN, the network is able to make intelligent decisions about the treatment of each data packet. It selects the best possible path according to current network conditions and available links. In this way, enterprises can leverage both MPLS and Ethernet services as part of its WAN, and can leverage each link for certain types of traffic, as a failover backup, or both. To find out more about how Talari’s Software Defined WAN makes this possible, contact us for a custom demonstration today.

When it comes to choices for WAN connectivity, it more often than not boils down to two choices: MPLS or carrier Ethernet. With this in mind, many enterprises are wondering which is best for their...


How Brownouts Impact The Network -- And Your Business

It is usually easy to tell if part of your WAN has had a blackout. One or more of its circuits stops working and then your backups probably kick in, after seeing that the downed link(s) are no longer responding to pings. A brownout, though, is more of a gray area. Just as an electrical brownout implies a severe drop in voltage but might not be an outage per se, a WAN brownout follows a sharp degradation in link quality but might result in the affected circuits still being technically “up.” This decline may be triggered by congestion across the network or a problem on the service provider’s end. The real costs of a WAN brownout Regardless of the cause, a brownout can stir up major problems for the WAN. For example, a low-bandwidth circuit could slow application performance to a crawl, yet not cause your auxiliary circuits to activate, since it can still respond to pings. Dealing with a network brownout requires an intelligent WAN solution. The financial toll from brownouts can also be considerable. Research firm Gartner has estimated that the average cost of network downtime is $5,600 per minute, or more than $300,000 per hour. Each enterprise must determine what functions are at risk from a WAN outage and plan their mitigation and disaster recovery strategies accordingly. With a WAN blackout/brownout, the total costs will consist of “hard” figures such as the number of branch and remote sites that depend on the WAN, as well as “soft” ones such as the amount of retail or banking business potentially lost because of the incident. Can a software defined WAN solve the brownout issue? What really needs to happen when a brownout occurs? Traditional WANs, as we have touched upon here, often struggle to respond to the quasi-outage conditions that surround a brownout. Faster, more intelligent network mechanisms are needed. Enter the software defined WAN. An SD-WAN solution such as Talari’s Failsafe SD-WAN excels at the tasks required to navigate a brownout: It constantly measures the quality of network paths for latency, jitter and packet loss, while measuring performance to the destination. It then relays this information to the appliance to enable dynamic, real-time traffic engineering that supports mission-critical applications. It can, as such, respond to a brownout by sending traffic over more reliable paths than the ones experiencing congestion. These capabilities are made possible by the SD-WAN’s intelligent utilization of links, whether they’re all MPLS, a mix of MPLS and broadband Internet or some other combination (e.g., one with 5G LTE, etc.). It makes the most of available bandwidth and reacts instantly, with subsecond failover, to changes in demand on the WAN, as well as both blackouts and brownout. An SD-WAN ensures a more reliable network. Brownouts may be an issue for traditional WANs that lack the responsiveness to quickly identify and mitigate drastic changes in link quality. This is not the case for a solution such as THINKING WAN that knows how each path is performing at all times. Find out more with a demo today!

It is usually easy to tell if part of your WAN has had a blackout. One or more of its circuits stops working and then your backups probably kick in, after seeing that the downed link(s) are no longer...


SD-WAN Technology Overview

Why are enterprises being drawn to software defined WANs? For starters, SD-WANs can help improve network performance (including branch office connectivity) while also streamlining costs and simplifying implementation and maintenance. According to a 2015 IHS survey of 150 North American businesses, almost half (45 percent) of respondents, eyeing these potential benefits among others, planned to spend more on SD-WAN solutions over the next two years. SD-WAN is part of a broader trend of using intelligence (i.e., decision-making) to make networks more agile as well as highly responsive to ever-evolving business requirements. It is not the same as software-defined networking – the term for separating the control and forwarding planes of an IT network – although it follows similar principles of abstraction and programmability. Ultimately, enterprises expect SD-WAN, like SDN, to give them a superior, cost-effective foundation for modern real-time applications like voice and video along with cloud-based applications. Research firm Gartner released a comprehensive report on current SD-WAN technologies and how they should be implemented. Let’s look at a few of the big takeaways from this document, so that it becomes easier for enterprises to understand the stakes for migrating from traditional WANs to more effective SD-WANs. 1) SD-WAN addresses problem with WAN cost, control and security The rise of cloud computing has put mounting pressure on legacy WANs. Traffic now moves in complex patterns that may traverse data centers, branch offices and private and public cloud instances. The high costs of WAN connectivity, especially MPLS links, is increasingly difficult to foot in this context. Moreover, the manual configuration processes long used with classic WANs are difficult to scale for today’s dynamic applications and business requirements. Automation is needed to ensure that traffic loads are moved to the most reliable, high-quality paths so as to avoid costly outages and failures. SD-WANs have adaptability and real-time analysis to direct network resources to applications that need them. At the same time, with so much traffic moving to the cloud, enterprises face an uphill climb in maintaining visibility into, and security over, their network traffic. While old-fashioned WANs were not designed with this use case in mind, SD-WANs include the adaptability and real-time analysis to best direct network resources to the applications that need them most. 2) SD-WANs are lightweight, secure and straightforward to use To qualify as an SD-WAN, a solution must meet several basic criteria. First, it should be compatible with a variety of transport media, including broadband Internet and 5G LTE in addition to MPLS. This way, it can fall back on different channels when a particular link encounters trouble. Second, load sharing across many WAN connections, including ones to branch offices and remote sites, should be supported. Policies for specific applications and business requirements can thus be enforced, giving priority to mission-critical programs while still supplying adequate bandwidth to less performance-sensitive ones. Third, the SD-WAN solution should be relatively simple to configure and scale. Even personnel without years of experience with network topologies should be able to set up a branch connection that can be aligned with a particular application or initiative. Administrators can save time that would have otherwise gone toward helping with deployment. SD-WANs are good for scaling connectivity to new branch sites. Finally, an SD-WAN must support secure VPNs with at least 128-bit encryption. It should also be service-chainable to other network devices such as secure Web gateways and firewalls. 3) Where do SD-WANs really shine? There are many possible use cases for an SD-WAN. A few of the most notable include: If a company has a large number of branch offices, an SD-WAN makes it easier and more cost-effective to deliver applications like video to many or all of them. An SD-WAN can lower the cost of equipment refreshes at these offices, and also drive down their total OPEX because it does not require numerous on-site personnel for maintenance. The flexibility of an SD-WAN makes it ideal for the hybrid network topologies needed for supporting the integration of public cloud services into the WAN. 4) SD-WANs can provide lower costs and faster provisioning These are two of the most prominent benefits that can be gained by SD-WAN deployment. Network changes at branches may be up to 80 percent faster thanks to simplified provisioning. Meanwhile, there is an opportunity to save on carrier services by moving away from traditional WAN architectures and to reduce the acquisition costs of both hardware and software. 5) Considerations to make during SD-WAN implementation Prospective buyers should thoroughly vet an SD-WAN solution and consider questions such as how SD-WAN sites will interact with their non-SD-WAN counterparts and whether management capability is handled through an on-premises interface or a software-as-a-service solution. These are just a few things to keep in mind when considering a switch to SD-WAN. Be sure to look at the full report on our website for additional information about the current SD-WAN market.

Why are enterprises being drawn to software defined WANs? For starters, SD-WANs can help improve network performance (including branch office connectivity) while also streamlining costs and...


Best Practices for Securing the WAN

As organizations expand their IT networking infrastructure to better serve end users in branch offices and support cloud-based applications (among other initiatives), WAN security must become a priority. Moreover, a major shift is underway in how network admins and their teams set up their WANs, and associated security practices have to keep pace. Rather than rely on expensive “guaranteed” MPLS lines, companies are integrating more broadband Internet links, which supply plenty of extra bandwidth for link aggregation but must also be properly secured. “This shift from using traditional WAN connections to broadband and Internet VPNs requires heightened WAN security at the branch offices,” explained Tessa Parmenter of TechTarget. “Branch offices will need Internet-facing security similar to the security methods deployed in data centers: firewall, intrusion detection and prevention, content filtering and anti-malware.” With that in mind, what specific steps, beyond the general ones Parmenter mentions, can admins et al take to protect the WAN? Let’s look a few useful techniques and practices that they can take up to ensure network integrity and data security. Best practice #1: Implement encryption The vulnerability of traditional connections such as MPLS and Frame Relay was highlighted a few years ago, following revelations about worldwide network surveillance by government bodies such as the U.S. National Security Agency. From that point on, enterprises could no longer assume that even these expensive links were safe from snooping and data interception. AES encryption can guard any packets that pass over public Internet circuits. Encryption is essential in this context. The good news is that, with the illusion of superior (but costly) MPLS security now dispelled, IPsec and SSL encryption over Internet VPNs can provide the comprehensive protection as well as the overall affordability (since broadband is cost-effective) that many network admins now expect from modern WANs. More specifically, 128- and 256-bit AES encryption can guard any packets that pass over increasingly popular public Internet circuits. Encryption helps maintain compliance for sensitive assets by using a VPN over broadband. Best practice #2: Keep everything up-to-date and patched Outdated software and firmware are constant risks to information security. Just look at the amount of attention and concern devoted to the end-of-life processes of Microsoft Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 over the past two years. WAN admins cannot afford to fall behind on their updates in the same way. In particular, applications and servers across the WAN must be regularly patched as new updates become available. An automated monitoring solution may be used to keep tabs on patch status, or admins may check manually from time to time. Either way, handle patch management with care. Make regular backups in case something goes wrong after an update, and if possible test patches on non-critical systems first to verify their safety. Best practice #3: Use policies and tools to keep tabs on network utilization Like a slug inching across the ground, a malicious application often leaves a trail behind itself. Maybe it is consuming excessive bandwidth or otherwise noticeably clashing with your historical application usage data. If you can spot it behaving like this, then you can take action to limit its impact and remove it from your network. One way to stay ahead of such problematic malware is to monitor overall network capacity and enforce prioritization of business-critical applications. This way, you can see how each network path is functioning, whether there are any deviations from the baselines and if your most important programs are still working as designed. If something ever needs adjustment, it pays to have a single point of configuration for your WAN security. That way, controlling any rogue traffic can be done easily and efficiently from just one location.

As organizations expand their IT networking infrastructure to better serve end users in branch offices and support cloud-based applications (among other initiatives), WAN security must become...


Tips For Securing Your WAN

Today’s enterprises face a wide range of security threats, from spear-phishing campaigns that attempt to lure susceptible individuals via email, to distributed denial-of-service attacks that flood their websites with meaningless traffic. Moreover, breaches such as the 2014 hacking of Sony Pictures and the 2013 theft of payment card data from Target clearly show the stakes are high for fending off such pressures by staying on top of network security. Sony Pictures had sensitive details about salaries, health care benefits and upcoming films leaked to the public Internet, while Target incurred more than a quarter of a billion dollars in costs in the wake of its incident. In both cases, critical company applications (email for Sony Pictures, payments processing for Target) were compromised from the outside. As security teams refresh their defense strategies to protect core programs and data from a similar fate, the WAN will have to be front and center, especially now that so many organizations are extending their networks to the cloud, supporting remote sites and workers and replacing their legacy business communications tools with services like VoIP and video conferencing. An unsecured WAN presents many potential vulnerabilities, so let’s look at a few tips and tricks for hardening it against attacks and unauthorized access. Here are three key security areas to keep in mind as you modernize your WAN: Setting up secure, cost-effective VPNs and hybrid WAN links VPNs are fundamental to network security, and in recent years many organizations have looked to ensure VPN reliability while at the same time moving on from costly traditional technologies such as Frame Relay, MPLS and T1 local circuits. Is it possible to strike a happy balance between performance, security and cost? Broadband Internet-based VPNs (i.e., ones that can be implemented on IPsec routers) are an appealing alternative, since they utilize less expensive links. However, an even better option in terms of cost, flexibility and security is Adaptive Private Networking with Talari, which wraps intelligence around the WAN through mechanisms such as constant path monitoring (i.e., for jitter, packet loss, etc.) and priority enforcement during failover. Adaptive Private Networking can be utilized over a combination of broadband Internet and MPLS and Frame Relay links. Packets that are routed over the Internet can be protected with up to 256-bit AES encryption and intranet traffic can be secured without the need for a separate VPN. Using WAN encryption instead of simply trusting the provider Speaking of encryption, it has become more important than ever in the last few years following the aforementioned breaches as well as other major cybersecurity events. Frame Relay, MPLS and ATM circuits managed by national carriers were once assumed to be safe from snooping, but such unwavering trust can no longer be maintained in today’s environment. “The price premium paid to service providers for the presumption of information security is no longer applicable,” explained Greg Ferro for Network Computing. “WAN services must be discounted to more closely match Internet circuits because they are now at the same level of trust. It may be possible to stop using dedicated WAN services completely.” Indeed, broadband Internet has become competitive with MPLS not just on price but on general acceptability as a basis for VPNs connecting main and branch offices. MPLS VPNs are increasingly seen as nothing special on the security front, opening the door for IPsec VPN, SSL VPN and APN. A few specific things to consider while implementing encryption include: Using public key instead of pre-shared key cryptography for tighter security. Tapping into virtual machines on x86 servers or cloud-managed VPN to trim endpoint costs. Replacing traditional WAN services with Internet connections for substantial ROI. Closing potential security loopholes in the WAN may have not been the highest priority in the past due to the assumption of safety. Now, though, it is essential to cybersecurity. Broadband Internet has become competitive with MPLS for VPN. Protecting your data and identities across the WAN WANs now field connections from more devices than they ever have. Phones and tablets in particular can remotely access the network just like PCs would. Bring-your-own-device initiatives have made mobile devices fixtures of the workplace as well as new security liabilities. Network administrators fortunately have many options for keeping all of these devices in check and protecting the organization’s sensitive data and identities. For example, centrally controlled admission policies can limit unfamiliar devices to the guest Wi-Fi network so that they cannot take bandwidth away from important applications. Other network security tools can strengthen the WAN against potential problems and prevent any WAN issues from eventually spreading to the LAN. Traffic monitoring, virus protections and anti-DDoS solutions are all good options for keeping malicious devices and applications at bay and ensuring that the WAN continues to function reliably.

Today’s enterprises face a wide range of security threats, from spear-phishing campaigns that attempt to lure susceptible individuals via email, to distributed denial-of-service attacks that flood...


How to Create a Virtual WAN

Recent industry research shows that virtual WANs are becoming increasingly popular, and will be deployed more often in the coming years. As more organizations look to implement and utilize virtual WAN technologies in their infrastructures, it is important that they have a full understanding of how the system works. Creating a virtual WAN includes several additional components that are layered onto WAN nodes, thereby making up a virtual environment in which network traffic travels. Let’s take a look at what it takes to create a virtual WAN, and how Talari’s Failsafe SD-WAN works in particular. What is a virtual WAN and what makes it beneficial? Virtual WANs are made up of physical or virtual appliances deployed at the WAN nodes as well as management and integration systems. In essence, a virtual WAN is a software-defined version of a traditional wide area network system. Peter Christy, director of networking practice at 451 Research, noted that while virtual WANs are all made up of physical or virtual appliances deployed at the WAN nodes as well as management and integration systems, the technology can differ depending on the users’ needs. “Each virtual WAN is defined by its topology (which nodes are connected), the service requirements (what each use requires), and the security, privacy and the regulatory compliance requirements that apply,” Christy wrote. “Each use can be configured independently, and created or changed on the fly, consistent with the physical underlay of being capable of meeting the requirements and the availability of enough aggregate connection capacity.” With this construction, virtual WANs are considerably flexible and can be adjusted, moved or changed depending on user demands. This is not the only advantage offered by a virtual WAN system, however. Many adopters flock to the technology due to the network agility it brings to overall network management. Within a virtual WAN, different traffic types can be prioritized to ensure that critical applications always have the support they need. Other Web-based systems are also more easily integrated within a virtual WAN, enabling businesses to create a more unified and streamlined network architecture. A look at the Talari Failsafe software defined WAN solution Talari’s Failsafe SD-WAN solution represents the gold standard in software defined WANs, and empowers the network to adapt to bandwidth needs and changing network conditions in real time. The system utilizes users’ available links to create a more accessible, reliable and available WAN offering the best performance possible. This virtual WAN solution utilizes an array of available links – including all MPLS, a hybrid system of MPLS and broadband or all Internet links – and backs these up with wireless or cloud extensions. This provides constant network availability, as well as more granular management of traffic. Through its SD-WAN, Talari is able to measure packet loss, latency, jitter as well as the overall availability of each path within the WAN and to the cloud. It does this for each and every packet traveling in each direction in the system, enabling real-time network insight that allows the Talari solution to select the most optimal path for each packet. This ensures that the network is continually responsive and is constantly providing the best performance depending on current conditions, bandwidth availability and overall demand. Click here to find out more about Talari’s Failsafe SD-WAN solution through a custom demo.

Recent industry research shows that virtual WANs are becoming increasingly popular, and will be deployed more often in the coming years. As more organizations look to implement and utilize virtual...