State of the WAN: Johan Ottosson

With the WAN world facing unprecedented challenges, how will buyers and sellers respond? We spoke to 16 people across the spectrum to discover where they think the important areas will be over the next few years.

Johan Ottosson, VP Strategy, Telia Carrier

‘Cloudification, softwarification, ‘anywhereisation’ – and no network left unturned.’

No network left unturned. Starting with the obvious: Covid-19 will fast-forward current trends. Cloud adoption and remote working shifts more traffic towards the Internet and SD-WAN. Austerity measures will trigger demand for more cost-efficient networks, comingled with the need for resilience to safeguard business continuity. 2020-2021 will be very hectic as most networks are overhauled – quite dramatically.

The Underlay Reimagined. The last three years have centered on SD-WAN. But as 80% of enterprises will still use a hybrid underlay, focus shifts to re-designing and right sizing the underlay. Here, end-to-end automation (including third party networks), significantly improves customer experience. Not all carriers are born equal though, and there will be a growing divide between carriers with consistent platforms and strong inventory control and those without. In addition, 5G deployments provides new options for outdoor urban and rural fixed wireless, though not yet consistently across global markets. Its increased dependability (compared to LTE) will add resilience and increase competition on the local access side – and potentially bring new business models, including private 5G networks.

“Anywherization” of services (whether centralized, at edge PoPs or uCPE), makes it possible to optimize workloads and traffic flows by bringing services closer to end-users. Most providers will now offer an integrated, multi-layered approach to network security (covering all of the above deployment models), rather than patchworks of point solutions. In the process, there will be significant convergence – and consolidation – between SD-WAN and Network security vendors.

Take it or leave it – “Cloudification” means standardization. Fewer and fewer global providers will support custom built solutions. As service providers make their networks programmable, bespoke solutions are replaced with standardized, modular, configurable offerings. But streamlined, automated services also mean more limited vendor portfolios and slashed product variants. Standardization between providers – such as MEF3.0 will also make it simpler for customers to buy – and integrate – services.

“Softwarization” of the network engineer. With more tools, APIs and data available, network engineers become more of like software programmers.  To make their networks smarter and more autonomous, they will demand full transparency from Carriers and CSPs – whether streams of performance, incident and routing data or APIs for better integration – to perform their own analytics and automate response. Together with mastering CSP routing networking products – what started with AWS Transit Gateway and Virtual WAN is only set to explode – this requires an injection of new competency into the network organization.