In the run up to the Gigabit Access event in Cologne next week, Total Telecom caught up with Lars Schütt, Head of Partner Management at ngena, to discuss the issues that are affecting Europe’s fixed line connectivity sector

What trends are you noticing developing in the industry at the moment?

In general, companies are under a high pressure to adopt to the increasing technical and organizational requirements coming from globalization, digitization and the ongoing move towards Cloud platforms. Many enterprises are struggling with the need to update their global networks to cope with these requirements and have high hopes for new emerging network technologies like SDN, that promise to offer more flexible and agile network connections than classical networks do today. Enterprises expect their networks to be an enabler of e.g. their Cloud-first strategy and not a hurdle. They expect that service providers help them to roll-out and run their networks on a global scale in a consistent way and at the same quality level. They also want end-to-end, near-real-time visibility of their networks with the aim to optimize application performance and improve the overall user experience.

That’s why ngena has built its service in such a way, that enterprises get a highly-automated, centrally orchestrated SD-WAN service, that is fully managed and monitored. This is what we call “ngena’s SD-WAN-as-a-Service” that offers standardized, modular services with which the above-mentioned customer requirements can be fulfilled in much shorter time with less complexity. 


What predictions do you have for the industry over the next 12-18 months?

The SDN technology is now ready and will replace most of the existing MPLS networks in the coming years. Many vendors have overcome early technology challenges and the concept of SDN and NFVs are showing a great potential for facilitating the deployment of more flexible, easier to set-up and to manage global enterprise networks especially.

With SDN, more and more integrated network services will see the light of day, because SDN and especially the NFV technology provides the capabilities for enriching network services with further value-added services like security VNFs etc, with an increasing number of universal CPE, i.e.  x86 boxes, on customer site.

We will also see first steps being made towards SD-Branch. Making it very appealing to orchestrate and manage functions like end-to-end consistent segmentation across the whole network, integrated security and the detailed configuration of LAN/Wi-Fi networks via a central management system, in parallel replacing current hardware at the branch offices with Virtual Network Functions.

Moreover, we foresee a continued growth in over-the-top services, resulting in increased pressure on telcos to provide even higher bandwidth at lower prices. As well as a greater concern over data privacy and security in general. And finally, the start of 5G that will play an important role in the massive rise of IoT use cases.


What new technologies are you particularly interested in at the moment?

The automization of processes to design, set-up and run global SDNs incl. a zero-touch approach to deploy those networks without the necessity for manual interactions is something we are particularly interested in and is the core of what ngena offers. Furthermore, the ability to build self-learning networks that optimize the performance and service assurance with the help of artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive maintenance methods are very attractive for enterprises today. 

We are also closely monitoring the steps being taken by the Metro Ethernet Forum (MEF) to build the MEF 3.0 common framework for carriers. When you look at it, with our alliance approach we are best positioned to immediately leverage this kind of framework within our alliance and we see huge potential to optimize the interworking with partners by MEF 3.0 standards and API’s.


What projects is ngena particularly excited about at the moment?

We are especially excited about our partner’s customer projects and customer wins in the first place. After having worked so hard on developing our global SD-WAN platform, it’s still a bit of a “magic moment”, when you see customer sites go live now in a fully automated manner. We are now concentrating on using the positive momentum to quickly and massively grow.


What are you hoping to achieve at the Gigabit Access event this year?

For ngena, especially the newly introduced conference Networks 4.0 – collocated with Gigabit Access in Cologne – is very interesting, as it focuses on emerging technologies such as SDN, NFV, AI and 5G, which are changing the way the industry understands networks. Taking a wider look at the future of networking and sharing with all participants the ngena vision, what we believe, how global SDNs will be set-up and managed in the future, what new opportunities VNFs can explore, and how automation can ease the life of network managers, is what I am especially interested in.

Furthermore, we are very excited to be on the panel with other leading industry experts on the 2nd of April (2:50 pm) talking about “Revolutionising your business services with SD-WAN”. Because we believe that this is exactly what our alliance and our innovative business model is currently doing: we are revolutionising the way, how our partners can offer global SD-WAN services in a fully managed “as-a-Service” offering to their end-customers using ngena’s wholesale platform.