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Konrad is on the SDN/NFV bus, are you?

He is back and is still excited about the opportunities for SDN/NFV to help our customers' IT departments add value back into their business.

I was so excited to learn that one of our favourite colleagues, Konrad Niedzwiedz, returned to Telstra recently as a UC/Collaboration specialist in Adelaide.

With Konrad returning, I was reminded of some notes he dropped me last year around our SDN/NFV initiatives. I thought, particularly leading into Cisco Live this week, it was appropriate to share how our sales guys see the current evolution in the data space.

"A large portion of my day is spent keeping my clients informed on industry trends and product developments. These conversations are wide and varied which makes my job not only interesting, but also rewarding due to sheer breadth of subject matter. Understandably I tend to focus my technology conversations on areas of growth and innovation, all the while attempting to keep some relevance on the immediate needs of my audience and their business objectives."

"Being a networker, it is fortunate I work for an organisation that does much more than enterprise networking. Indeed, the network and its most advanced capabilities seem to be taken for granted, seldom the subject of developments that can be described as exciting."

Recently however, networking became cool again.

I first heard about this new "thing" called Software Defined Networking three or four years ago.

"Read up on SDN, it's gonna be big" was the recommendation I received from a colleague back then, and it was no coincidence that the next Cisco Live conference I attended was littered with SDN themed break-out sessions.

It's not unusual for a new and emerging technology to receive this amount of hype, so it wasn't until after Telstra's public announcements of its Symphony initiative that I started talking about our journey in this space with my customers. Some had heard of Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) and many had not, but they all had one thing in common -- they wanted to know more.

Even then, I took a cautious approach as most of the discussion centred on future capabilities.

I have now embarked on a roadshow of sorts, making sure I reach my customers to spread the Telstra SDN/NFV message. The reason for this is simply due to the response I've observed to my initial presentations. Almost without fail, my customers have appreciated the insights into Telstra's vision and how SDN/NFV is firmly on our roadmap. But it's the inevitable "what if" and "imagine when" directions these conversations take that make people truly lean forward in their chairs.

Many service providers around the world are already adopting SDN/NFV technologies. According to Ovum, however, Telstra appears to be one of the few with a genuine strategy of putting this capability directly into the hands of its enterprise customers.

For this reason, I often sense genuine excitement when I reveal Telstra's roadmap in this space. When I walk through a simple scenario of ordering network connectivity to a datacentre, dragging network functions (router, firewall, and/or WAN optimiser) onto the link and having it all provisioned and operational within minutes, the penny drops. Ovum itself has a view that this development has the potential to be"ground-breaking".

The possibilities and benefits usually mentioned are:

  • End-to-end management of all services (network connectivity, cloud service, security, and collaboration) giving an enterprise the proverbial (and somewhat elusive) single pane of glass;
  • Ordering and provisioning of new services completed within hours or minutes, not weeks or months;
  • Orchestration of multiple vendor products;
  • APIs allowing enterprise applications to interact directly with our network and associated functions, making the network truly dynamic.
  • For me, the best part is this changes the conversation I have with my customers. In today's economic climate, most CIO's and IT managers are running with the "more with less" mandate from senior management. Given that IT is almost always seen as a cost centre, they see the opportunity of adding real value back into their business. And often, that is more important than cutting costs.

Konrad wrote these notes before he embarked on a brief career change. Now he is back, I look forward to giving him an update on how far we have come, not only with the launch of Internet VPN and Data Centre Interconnect, but in terms of developing a globally aligned future roadmap (which we will reveal at Live and future similar events soon).

Thanks Konrad not only for sharing your thoughts on our new data initiatives but for coming back. Best of luck in your new UC gig, but remember, "it's still all about the network".