Telstra lays out roadmap for programmable network

Telstra will add virtualised customer premises, pre-designed templates, managed services, and dynamic real-time control of IP VPN networks to its programmable network over the next few months.

Telstra has laid out its roadmap for the Telstra Programmable Network (TPN) during its annual Vantage conference in Melbourne, saying it will continue adding functionality over the next few months.

According to executive director of Global Products for Telstra Enterprise Michelle Bendschneider, it will take Australia's incumbent telecommunications provider "the next couple of years to fully digitise" its core network.

"What this solution does is give you, our customers, a digital platform to manage your own self-provisioning and consumption of many network functions," Bendschneider said of TPN on Wednesday.

Available now on TPN are Datacentre Interconnect; Exchange, to connect to Telstra and partner networks; and Marketplace, to install virtual network functions.

Ahead, the roadmap for TPN sees the next release before the end of 2017 involve virtualised customer premises, which will place virtual network functions on-premises; and Design Wizard for customer-led pre-designed templates.

Future releases to occur in 2018 would see managed services -- to design, configure, maintain, and manage services -- and dynamic IP for real-time control of IP VPN networks added to the TPN product suite.

According to Telstra director of Networks Mike Wright, the main goal for TPN is to individualise networks and services for its customers.

"What we want to be able to do is give our customers and ourself the ability to make it run," he explained during Vantage.

"Essentially, we want to be able to program our networks and services by starting with some of the business elements on the side and self-serve whether we want caching, or firewalls, or architectures that are spun up in software, rather than the traditional way.

"We want to be able to paint a glass, dial up the functionality for ourselves, and configure the bandwidth and speed of those devices."

Wright said TPN is a precursor to the concept of network slicing, which segments a physical network into several virtual mobile networks and allows dedicated networks to have functionality specific to a customer or to the service being provided, and is a key 5G technology being tested by technology partner Ericsson.

"The idea of network slicing is today, you can connect to our wireless network and have data connectivity with one size fits all ... in this new world with IoT, with connected cars, with all these different applications and services, there are different use cases, different requirements for latency, reliability, redundancy," Wright said.

"We will build different network slices to suit each of those architectures."

Wright said Telstra currently has a narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) network slice, ahead of establishing an NB-IoT network across the nation within the next six months.

"We've already built and got a network slice up and running for narrowband IoT, which we're just about to bring into the market," he said on Wednesday.

Telstra said TPN was primarily developed in Singapore, and launched and tested in APAC with clients in Singapore before being brought into Australia.

It was first announced in May, when Telstra called it a "network-as-a-service" offering via combining its networks, cloud platform, datacentres, software-defined networking (SDN), and network function virtualisation (NFV) capabilities in one integrated platform.

TPN provides a user interface for customers to automate and provision services in near real time without needing to upgrade their infrastructure, as well as with access to multiple public cloud services.

TPN is available not only to Australian Telstra network customers, but also international IP-based virtual private network customers, who can access it via Telstra's 2,000 points of presence worldwide.

Real-time software-defined wide-area network provisioning and security will also be added to TPN.

Disclosure: Corinne Reichert travelled to Telstra Vantage in Melbourne as a guest of Telstra

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