Telstra offers network control to business

Telstra is looking to give business customers on its private Next IP network greater control over their network traffic, is and launching what the company calls "application-aware networking".

Telstra is looking to give business customers on its private Next IP network greater control over their network traffic, is and launching what the company calls "application-aware networking".

Telstra's Application Assured Networking is an additional service for Next IP customers, which will be accessible through a business customer's portal for their Next IP private network. In the first phase, the product will allow customers to generate reports on what sort of traffic is flowing through their network, and how much bandwidth it is consuming at any one time, whether it is teleconferencing or YouTube.

Telstra has deployed intelligent routers in each of the major capital cities of Australia, with the help of Alcatel-Lucent. These routers, which Telstra calls Application Assured Gateways, have been deployed into the core of Telstra's Next IP network, and they monitor traffic for customers subscribed to the service.

The second phase of the project, to go live later this year, will be "policy control", which will allow Telstra customers to set controls in the network to optimise traffic for specific applications, at specific times. For example, a customer may set a dedicated level of bandwidth for a teleconference, at a specific time of day.

To allow this functionality, Telstra will be importing commercially available off-the-shelf policy event-manager software, which has been used for pay television, into the Next IP network, with the help of Juniper and Cisco.

"What we want to be able to do is deliver enough intelligence into the core of the network, whereby the network will [be able to] make policy decisions on the fly, based on application, device type, access type and even user identity," said John Ieraci, Telstra's director of IP data and security.

Telstra also plans on using the technology to offer different levels of cloud services across the Next IP network, Ieraci said. Telstra will look also at providing "gold, silver and bronze" levels of guaranteed bandwidth for its cloud services over Next IP.

Ieraci said that in addition to giving companies greater control over their network traffic, the service will also let chief information officers get an idea of what employees are doing on the network. While the service doesn't record the information travelling on the network, it does record what type of information that is, meaning bosses will be able to improve productivity by seeing how much time is spent on YouTube and other non-work-related applications.

Telstra chief technology officer Dr Hugh Bradlow said peer-to-peer file-sharing service BitTorrent is the worst offender in the workplaces that he visited.

"The whole so-called 'Bring Your Own Device' [BYOD] movement is leading people to bring devices, in which they are used ... for consumer-like activities — like entertainment. Obviously, the worst offender of all is BitTorrent and that is something which most businesses want visibility on, because it consumes a huge amount of bandwidth; plus, has all sorts of other implications," he said.

"Most other apps are very grey as to whether they are business or personal. Like, if I use Skype, is that a business or a personal application?"

With nine customers signed up already, Telstra will be pushing this product to all businesses; from small to large enterprise, and government. Bradlow believes that as cloud computing takes off and bandwidth becomes critical, this will be the beginning of the downfall of "dumb" IP networks.

"Once you become reliant on IP networks for your entire operation of your country, your business, your personal life — every damn thing you can think of — you really don't want 'best-effort' networks. You want engineered, telco-grade networks. So, we're now entering the fall of the 'dumb' networks and the re-rise of the 'intelligent' networks."


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