Network-as-a-service will enable Telus to sell globally

Alan Burkitt-Gray
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With SD-WAN services, Telus can expand its horizons beyond Canada to the rest of the world, Nuage Networks’ CEO Sunil Khandekar tells Alan Burkitt-Gray

Canadian operator Telus will be able to sell enterprise services around the world thanks to its deal with Nuage Networks, announced in July.

Nuage, which is owned by Nokia, is providing its software-defined wide-area network (SD-WAN) technology so that it can offer network-as-a-service (NaaS) to enterprise customers.

“It gives Telus the ability to provide new services out of its region, but to seamlessly interconnect them,” says Sunil Khandekar, the founder and CEO of Nuage. “It will be able to tie the old [on Telus’s existing network] with the new [connected via the internet, worldwide] seamlessly.” 

Indeed, Telus has been offering NaaS via Nuage’s technology for “almost six months”, says Khandekar, initially as a pilot and for the last three months as what he calls a ‘production pilot’, “and now the service is available for all customers”. 

That should come as a surprise to whoever runs Telus’s Twitter feed, who told me when I was researching this story that “we are a Canadian provider and don’t ship or sell products outside of Canada”. Why the issue? Because if you go to the homepage of the website asks you which Canadian province you live in, even before it will let you any further. 

“Therefore, it sure does makes sense to ask for the province,” said the Twittermeister in our brief exchange. Not if you’re now selling worldwide, it doesn’t: sometimes social media just finds it hard to keep up.

Khandekar helpfully sent links to the relevant section of Telus’s website – the site that’s inaccessible unless you log in with the lie that you live in Labrador or Manitoba. “We can install network-as-a-service over any Telus internet solution and those of most other providers,” says the site. “Network-as-a-service comes fully interoperable with MPLS; no expensive hardware upgrades required.”

The new service “is table stakes for enterprises that see IT as a component of whatever business they’re in”, says Khandekar. “Enterprises are looking at their provider to offer a service that’s as secure as regular services but has the agility, with the lower cost, to allow distant users, wherever they might be to securely access applications from the private and public cloud.” 

Today’s services “won’t go away”, but “this type of offering will enable services for customers in locations out of the region over the internet”, he says.

“Telus’s multinational customers that have footprints out of Canada at the moment need to have other partners.” And those other service providers will undoubtedly have different service level agreements (SLAs), and other features that add to the complexity. 

NaaS can also help them mingle workloads between public and private clouds, adds Khandekar, who founded Nuage in 2012 with the backing of Alcatel-Lucent, for which he had worked for the previous eight years. 

Nuage transferred to Nokia when it acquired Alcatel-Lucent at the start of 2016. The name will stay, at least for the moment, though “it’s a work in progress”, he says. “We will help the larger Nokia to get into large enterprises. We can help them directly.”

Those public and private cloud workloads “will have the same network governance and the same network policies”, says Khandekar. Telus will be able “to seamlessly extend [services] to the public cloud and will be able to monetise that”.

He and his colleagues in Nuage, based in Mountain View, California, are now looking towards phase two, so that service provider customers such as Telus “can upsell new capacity easily with a self-service portal”. That was “a very important criterion in Telus’s selection of Nuage”, he adds. 

Customers will be able to implement extra features, such as a firewall or a back-up, via a self-service portal. “It will be seamless.”

Telus is one of a number of service providers that have implemented software-defined services via Nuage. “We are working with service providers to take them through their paces. We don’t want to be selected for just a tactical deployment, to bring in an enterprise customer as window dressing. We have been busy working with the providers and all our hard work over the last two years has paid off.”

Now, “this is going mainstream and we are excited to lead the charge”, says Khandekar.