Change is coming to service provider networking, and evolving customer expectations around agility, service flexibility, and pricing are driving it.
In recent weeks, both AT&T and Verizon have made key announcements on the approach they plan to take with regard to network service virtualization - a transition birthed and catalyzed by the extraordinary high adoption rate of cloud based delivery, and the changes in customer attitudes about the best way to consume IT services. While the specifics of their new network offerings vary, the intent is the same: give enterprise customers more choice, reduce cost of ownership, and deliver service on demand. AT&T announced its AT&T Network Functions on Demand and Verizon Enterprise Solutions recently unveiled its Verizon Virtual Network Services (VNS).
The commercial rollout of network service virtualization is a key step for providers as they innovate to keep pace with customers seeking to exploit the promise of digital services and the emerging digital economy. While the nature of service delivery has changed, however, the need for key service building blocks remains and security is one of those building blocks.
Security has been and remains an essential element in the delivery of services. As a matter of fact, the nature of the changes implicit in the new networks, including openness, flexibility, and interoperability, make securing the traffic riding on these vehicles even more important. It’s no surprise that both AT&T and Verizon have made security for Virtual Network Functions (VNFs) among the first of the options to be introduced with these new services. Fortinet is among a very select group of vendors with VNF security services available on both AT&T’s Network Functions on Demand and Verizon’s VNS service.
The Fortinet VNF solution delivers the same robust security functionality that enterprises require to protect their network applications and provide highly secure connections for all users of their services. The only thing that’s different is the form factor used to deliver these capabilities. The new form factor is virtual.
The virtual world places the same demands on security solutions as the world preceding it. They need to be effective, offer rich functionality, be adaptive to deal with emerging threats, support effective threat intelligence, and most critically, work in open environments. Fortinet has taken a number of key steps to prepare for this new reality, including building upon an architecture we call the Fortinet Security Fabric, an approach that uses and coordinates every tool at one’s disposal to maintain effective security - and from a provider standpoint, embraces the requirement for effective interoperability and service chaining.
The introduction of commercial services that take advantage of network virtualization is a key milestone for the carrier industry. It reflects the keen attention being paid to the needs of the markets they serve. AT&T and Verizon are leading the charge and taking an important step toward changing the networking landscape. Of course, security will remain an essential element in facilitating that change, while delivering on the promise of agility, flexibility, and affordability for all.