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How to innovate an industry: the telecommunication sector and the software defined network revolution

Multinational enterprise today are facing a huge range of challenges as digitization, globalization and new IT solutions call for innovative network solutions. According to Gartner, around 80% of employees and customers are served in branch offices. And a survey done by research company Populus shows that even 41% of small and medium companies say, they do business in countries outside their own. Enterprises thus need to interconnect sites and workforces around the globe with greater flexibility and agility than ever before.
In addition, new cloud-based applications are driving demand for greater connectivity and higher bandwidths with premium network performance and security. According to a survey done by Gartner, the worldwide public cloud service market grew by 18% in 2017. And market researchers from Cisco see an increase of global business IP traffic by 21% until 2021. Thus, enterprises need new data connectivity services to cope with the increasing network requirements.
A sharing economy approach to providing a “one-stop-shop” experience for enterprises
Many global companies we talk to have a growing international presence or customer base, and they need a secure approach to connect their worldwide operations. Most of the time they are relying on several service providers to deliver the needed services. But this procurement set-up often makes e.g. the addition of new sites or changes to an existing network connection complicated and slow. Instead of having to negotiate, obtain, and manage disparate connectivity from various providers, it would be much better, if one trusted partner could manage and operate the complete data connectivity services as a “one-stop shop” for all global network needs of a company. And this is exactly, why we have initiated an alliance of leading service providers and founded ngena.
ngena stands for »Next Generation Enterprise Network Alliance« and is an alliance of global telecommunications providers that are joining forces in a shared economy model to offer a solution that can overcome the customer challenges described above. Founded in early 2016, ngena has seen more than 17 strong international partners around the globe joining the alliance. Founded by Deutsche Telekom, CenturyLink, Reliance Jio and SK Telekom, the alliance has now grown to include several new telecom partners such as A1, Altice with SFR and Portugal Telecom, Expereo, KPN, MTN, Neutrona, Starhub, Telus, PCCW Global and VEON plus technology partners Cisco, Comarch and Equinix.
Software-defined networks – much more than a hype
From a technology perspective, the alliance provides a central cloud platform that merges the local networks of all alliance partners, forming a single global Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN). The architecture is based on sharing the local network assets using cloud and virtualization technology to provide hybrid VPN services with additional service options (e.g. network optimization services, security services etc.). Thus, all local partners can deliver performant and secure data connectivity services to their end customers on a global scale. Enterprises benefit from this approach in many ways: on the one hand they get a global network service which is secure, stable, scalable and easy to use; on the other hand, they profit from the local access and local care of their regional telecommunication provider.
One of ngena’s technology partners is US technology giant Cisco. Cisco has been working with the alliance from the start to design and build the service delivery platform behind ngena. The platform is powered by technologies that feature high-performance cloud infrastructure, layered orchestration for end-to-end seamless automation, service assurance, virtual network functions, and customer premise equipment portfolio. Combined with Cisco’s newly acquired Viptela SD-WAN technology, this platform enables ngena to offer enterprises cost-effective and reliable business network services. The ngena solution is designed to meet customer requirements for single sourcing of service providers for global enterprise network services, faster service roll-out at any location in the world, and predictable end-to-end service level agreements.
What is also special about this model is that the Cisco technology integrates with a third-party Business and Operations System (B/OSS) developed by software company Comarch. With the help of this cloud platform, all alliance partners can configure and manage the global networks of their customers centrally. Thus, they can change network configurations, add new accesses or make fast changes to existing networks with a tip of a mouse click.
The transformation has just begun
The potential power of the ngena approach is really impressive. It’s a transformative initiative that combines an innovative business model, strong industrial partnerships, a cloud-first, software-based technology platform, and a high degree of process automation. Together these attributes enable ngena and its alliance partners to uniquely address the needs of multinational enterprises and leapfrog the classic competition.
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About the author
Dr. Marcus Hacke, Founder & Managing Director ngena GmbH
Marcus developed the idea and concept for ngena and is the Managing Director of ngena since its foundation in February 2016. He has worked for T-Systems since 2004, holding a number of managerial positions in Delivery, Sales and Product Management. In these roles, his responsibilities included global provisioning and operations of telecommunications solutions as well as the development of a global telecommunications portfolio.
Before joining T-Systems, Marcus spent seven years as a business consultant with McKinsey & Company, focusing on the IT and telecommunications industries. He holds a doctorate in physics.