Transform Branch Estate into Future-proof Solution: Keith Langridge, BT

BT enables deployment of virtual network functions on site; Cisco provides the technology, which is crucial to the solution


Keith Langridge, VP, Connect Portfolio, BT.

BT recently announced the adoption of Cisco’s ENCS device as its first virtual customer premise equipment (vCPE) within BT’s Connect Edge product. Keith Langridge, VP, Connect Portfolio, BT, tells us more. Excerpts:

BW CIO: What is the announcement all about? And what does it do?

Keith Langridge: BT has announced the adoption of Cisco’s ENCS device as its first virtual customer premise equipment (vCPE) within BT’s Connect Edge product and the integration of Cisco’s Network Services Orchestrator (NSO) software platform into its network offering Connect Services Platform.

The three components (Connect Edge, Connect Services Platform and Virtualised services) comes together to enable the deployment of Virtual Network Functions on a site. This means that the customer no longer needs to ship additional boxes to a site when deploying new services, the network functions can be deployed almost instantly.

These network functions could include the firewall, acceleration services or the customer own functions. The simple deployment of network functions means that the customer can save the cost associated to local technical support and the hassle and time associated to shipping devices.

The fact that the services are virtual means that they can be taken away just as quickly as they are deployed. For example, the acceleration could be deployed to fix a short-term service issue.

BW CIO: Who is the solution aimed at?

Keith Langridge: The Connect Edge and Connect Services Platform is most appropriate for large organisations with international branch networks and require multiple services on site. They are suitable for customers looking to replace legacy end of life kit and transform their branch estate into a future-proof solution.

BW CIO: What are dynamic network services and how do they differ from the existing network services?

Keith Langridge: For leaders and managers in global enterprises, who need the right foundations to enable their digital transformation in a rapidly changing world, BT has the expertise, scale, agility and security infrastructure to define, deliver and manage software defined networks for digitally-enabled businesses. We call this Dynamic Network Services.

Dynamic Network Services are built on BT’s intelligent hybrid networks and use its existing network infrastructure. Hybrid networks allow the growth and flexibility required by digital transformation. SD WAN and VNF (Virtual Network Functions) allow companies to maintain explosive growth in traffic without incurring explosive cost and allows swift deployment of new sites or innovative new business units.

Meanwhile, MPLS provides robust support for business-critical functions. BT’s Dynamic Network Services also benefits from its cloud services and cloud connectivity plus along with the ability to overlay additional services such as BT’s market leading security capability.

BW CIO: What is Network Functions Virtualisation or NFV?

Keith Langridge: Network Functions Virtualisation allows for the function of a dedicated piece of network hardware to be virtualised and run as software. Multiple functions can be downloaded and run on a single network device, which is managed centrally via a portal.

NFV dramatically cuts the time taken to deploy new network functions as it removes the need for technicians to visit sites to install new hardware for each new function deployed. This reduces the cost and complexity of adding new network functions, making an organisation’s IT more flexible and responsive to business demands.

BT is working with all major players to integrate, test and deliver a set of virtual network functions as part of its offering. Those network functions range from security, acceleration, routing and intelligent routing to optimization and many more services to come.

BW CIO: What’s Cisco’s role in the provision of Connect Services and Connect Edge?

Keith Langridge: Cisco provides the technology, which is crucial to the solution. Connect Edge is a new, virtualised customer premise equipment (vCPE) service based on Cisco’s ENCS technology enabling VNFs for the branch.

In order to deploy its new virtualisation offerings, BT has integrated Cisco’s Network Services Orchestrator (NSO) software platform and virtual Branch Core Function Pack into its own networks and uses network automation to deliver high-quality services faster and more easily to its customers.

The NSO platform will improve BT’s ability to simultaneously manage, improve and orchestrate service delivery across NFV projects, software-defined networking (SDN) offerings and more traditional networks.

BW CIO: These software-based NFV services don’t sound as secure as traditional networks. What are you doing to ensure they are secure?

Keith Langridge: Security is a key consideration for any network solution and a focus for BT. At BT, we offer market leading security services to back up the increased threat associated to a Dynamic Network Service.

These services are actually a new security opportunity as they enable the virtual deployment of security solutions, making it much simpler and easy to deploy new security services.


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