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Posted on: November 2, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

Contributed by Jody Hagemann

Senior Director, SD-WAN Product Management at Comcast Business

Healthcare is emerging as a leading early adopter of software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN); it’s the top vertical contender in our sales funnel. SD-WAN quickly and affordably addresses the biggest challenges of today’s digital healthcare industry – from mobile health to electronic health records (EHR), telemedicine and more.

As the Sr. Director of Product Management for Comcast Business’ SD-WAN product, I meet with many IT decision-makers of healthcare practices around the country, and I hear the same challenges repeatedly:

  • Adequate bandwidth – With mHealth (mobile health) now having some 300,000 apps on the market, healthcare consumers are clearly turning to their devices for more online communications and transactions every day which requires healthcare providers to have more bandwidth than ever.
  • Application prioritization – With telemedicine and essential functions like training happening virtually, healthcare providers need application-aware routing with the ability to prioritize the most important and network performance-sensitive applications.
  • Simplification of WAN network management
  • Ability to ramp up new urgent care centers fast
  • Affordable, predictable costs
  • 100 percent uptime/business continuity

SD-WAN can help healthcare companies overcome these challenges.

SD-WAN enables the use of widely available and affordable broadband that eliminates bandwidth constraints and empowers flawless online patient experiences, unhindered cloud and inter-office communications, and crystal-clear transmissions of X-rays, video and other critical imagery. Video, meanwhile, has moved toward the top of the bandwidth-hogging applications as its use in telemedicine and training have skyrocketed.

SD-WAN also allows practices to bring new critical care centers and other facilities online quickly because the time-consuming and expensive need for ordering, waiting for delivery and installation of on-premise hardware is eliminated. With SD-WAN, your entire network is provisioned, managed and monitored from centralized software controls.

I often ask healthcare IT managers, “What does a bad day look like?” Blood cannot be drawn, patients and staff are sent home, and important medical records cannot be transmitted to other doctors or hospitals. Business continuity is critical for this market vertical. Be sure that your SD-WAN is paired with the most reliable, resilient last-mile connection available, and for resiliency, that it includes wireless backup in the event that you experience a temporary outage or disruption of your primary connectivity.

As technologists, we are in the business of solving customer problems. SD-WAN addresses a majority of healthcare network challenges. I would love to hear your thoughts and especially your experiences with the world of software-defined networking.

Posted on: October 23, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

Options Involve Cost/Benefit Tradeoffs and Considerations

SD-WAN technology offers enterprises a wide range of benefits, including single-pane-of-glass visibility for network management, streamlined provisioning and standard API interfaces. The SD-WAN market, meanwhile, is characterized by rapid growth and aggressive competition – as well as widespread confusion. Buyers have myriad options and multiple flavors of SD-WAN to choose from. Ultimately, the definition of a “right” solution will vary, according to the specific requirements of a given enterprise. This Point of View outlines the basic considerations executives must address when selecting an SD-WAN solution.

Posted on: October 15, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

Our bring your own network (BYON), access-agnostic solutions equip your customers to easily swap phone systems and migrate to the latest communications and networking technologies they need while keeping their underlying connectivity in place. Cloud-based Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS), value-added SD-WAN and managed security services will improve customer engagement, employee productivity, network performance, service reliability and cyberthreat protection.

Featured BYON Windstream Enterprise solutions include:

  • SD-WAN – Choose the technology platform that is right for your business from two of the leading WAN edge infrastructure providers— VeloCloud or Fortinet—both options are recognized as leaders in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, provide PCI DSS compliance, and leverage our state-of-the-art partner portal
  • UCaaS – Our many “flavors” of Unified Communications as a Service offer a more connected, collaborative workforce, with instant messaging, chat, presence, mobility, conferencing and CRM integrations—all backed by a world-class network with 99.99% always-on reliability
  • Security and Compliance – Most experts agree that a security breach for most companies is no longer a question of if it will happen, but when it will happen. Our suite of Security Services includes Cloud and CPE Firewalls, SIEM and DDoS Mitigation to shield the most sophisticated threats.

Enjoy big payouts. In addition to our standard competitive residual monthly compensation, we’ll give you a 5% bonus residual and up to 4X accelerator for BYON services!

 Everything you need from a single source. If you’re also looking for network solutions, either as a replacement or for diversity, we can do it all—BYON, network solutions or both.

Want to Learn more? E-mail Windstream Enterprise

Posted on: October 11, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

Yes! It’s a Match Made in Heaven!

SD-WAN has been a trending topic in the technology world for quite a while now, and long enough that it’s beginning to become commonplace in network discussions and more routine when it comes deployments.

Today, most SD-WAN deployments are managed by companies that exclusively handle  SD-WAN. So any voice provider that planned to sell SD-WAN as a part of their solution to a customer would essentially be relying on these third-parties or outsourcing to manage the SD-WAN service.

That’s why Momentum recently made headlines when they added SD-WAN to the company’s solution portfolio.

Although unique, a voice and communications provider offering a managed SD-WAN solution brings a number of advantages to every deployment. Here  are a few:

1) The Benefit of the UCaaS Experience

VoIP and unified communications are a few of the primary applications that use an SD-WAN connection. So while traditional SD-WAN providers may be concerned with general deployment, connection speeds, etc., voice and communications providers are able to approach SD-WAN configurations and designs with a firmer understanding of the application requirements and end goal.

This allows voice providers to optimize and lay out an SD-WAN blueprint and delivery plan for customers that ensures each and every deployment gets maximum results for their voice, UCaaS and all other applications.

2) Access to More Advanced Technology and Integrations

Because SD-WAN providers deal exclusively with that technology, they don’t always have the access or the capability of integrating into all the latest pieces of technology. This especially happens at the individual application level where you’ll see handshake deals or head nod agreements on how particular services and applications will perform on the connection.

Voice and communication providers have the experience, understanding and partnerships to combine cutting-edge branches of technology to deliver the absolute best delivery to work with applications

For instance, Momentum has designed a way to deploy SD-WAN in a way that builds on the technology’s enhanced availability, visibility and control without having to sacrifice security and reliability. One way this is accomplished is through the option of placing a virtual session border controller in Momentum’s data centers to ensure peak performance and quality.

Additionally, Momentum’s SD-WAN deployments can leverage both wired and wireless bandwidth. This is a game-changer because the expansion of available connection options allows for deployments to truly find and use the best available bandwidth. It also means the solution isn’t limited to locations with wired connections so it can be used almost anywhere.

3) Streamlined Experience

At the end of the day, one of the biggest benefits of having managed SD-WAN from a voice provider is the customer experience. You can see this in getting a single bill for multiple services, receiving access to savings through using multiple services and having main a single point of contact for questions and troubleshooting. Also, a voice and communication provider delivering SD-WAN can actually also provide even tighter protective security because all transmissions and signals remain in a single network.

SD-WAN from voice and communication providers delivers expertise,  enhanced technology, a better experience and move financial value to customers. And if the provider is like Momentum and provides a white-glove experience, having a single provider for voice, SD-WAN and even possibly other network services can give deliver additional meaningful value that simply can’t be ignored.

Posted on: October 8, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

By Chris Betz, Chief Security Officer, CenturyLink

Let me put it another way: Security can be complex. The true art is making security easy to use.

As a Fortune 150 company and the second largest U.S. communications provider to global enterprise customers, we are responsible for securing our own operations through a suite of hybrid IT, cloud, networking and communications solutions — in addition to those of our customers. As CSO for this company, I can attest to the fact that the pressures security leaders face today are many.

On one hand, we have the explosion of network traffic spurred by video, 5G, IoT, connected devices and a mobile workforce; on the other, we have a justified and growing intolerance by users — both internal and external — for anything less than always-on, flawless performance. Couple this with the patchwork nature of many of today’s security solutions, which businesses are often left to stitch together on their own; the gap between security and engineering teams that often reflects security as an afterthought; and the shortage of qualified security professionals — and the picture can seem bleak.

But security can be simple: We believe that the inherent value of a security solutions provider should first and foremost be effective simplicity.

At CenturyLink, our security builds on two fundamental directives: to leverage our expansive global threat visibility and to act against the threats we see. Our unique and deep network-based threat intelligence makes our approach possible — and it is the foundation of Connected Security, our vision for seamless integration between security and the network to transform the communications of tomorrow.

The more we can do as a global security services provider to identify or impact malicious traffic before it hits our customers’ infrastructure, the better customers can focus and prioritize their resources elsewhere. This is the promise of Connected Security and the premise upon which we have transformed our network into a threat sensor and proactive defense platform.

Disrupting the security threats that we face today — and the threats we will face tomorrow — requires more than intelligence. It requires a collective commitment to share what we see and to act on what we know. We look forward to continuing to work together as we drive toward simplifying security.

Click here to view and download the full CenturyLink 2019 Threat Report: https://www.centurylink.com/asset/business/enterprise/report/2019-threat-research-report.pdf

 

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month and as a CenturyLink Channel Partner, you have access to sell CenturyLink’s full suite of trusted Security Solutions. For more information, please contact your Channel Manager or Partners@CenturyLink.com.

 

Posted on: October 2, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

This morning we announced that we closed a $21MM series B minority investment round. This is a significant moment for us as a company, and for the SD-WAN market as a whole. This sizable injection of capital will unlock new resources to help us serve customers and partners even better, and further validates that Bigleaf is solving a huge market need as the world moves to SaaS and cloud.

Improving on a Customer-Proven Solution

The new investment allows us to expand and extend what we’re doing today to serve our existing customers and partners with amazing service and support. We have an industry-leading 95% gross annual retention rate and a base of absolutely thrilled customers. Within that 5% of customers who leave, it’s almost always because they’ve gone bankrupt or are downsizing, not because they don’t like Bigleaf. We are completely dedicated to maintaining customer satisfaction as we scale. We know this won’t be easy, so we’re going to use some of these funds to add more support team members, product management, software QA engineers, and other support staff to make sure that we keep the experience top-notch over time.

Enabling and Expanding our Channels

One of our top priorities with this new funding is investing in our partner channels. For our telecom agent partners, we’ll be enabling them with more educational and support resources to help them sell Bigleaf to tens of thousands more customers. Our success in the telecom channel was built through our relationships with hundreds of forward-looking partners who could see the growing need for a more stable and reliable connection to cloud technologies. For our MSP partners, we’re creating a fully fleshed-out MSP channel program to augment and accelerate the success we’ve had with our early partners. The new funding gives us the ability to extend our reach to more partners in both channels and equip them with the training and resources they need for success.

Finding the Perfect Partner

If someone had asked me 9 months ago about raising another round, we would have told them we weren’t interested right now. We were growing at an incredible rate and were staying focused on operating the business: we’ve now tripled our recurring revenue and company size since our last funding round in January 2018. Then, out of the blue, we started to field an influx of inbound interest from investors.

We realized something was notable about our success in the SD-WAN market. Something exciting. We had built something that was solving a truly un-met need.

SMBs and mid-size enterprises were struggling to address connectivity issues with traditional networking technologies or other SD-WAN solutions. What was available to them on the market wasn’t built for SaaS and public cloud, and couldn’t adapt to the pace of change in today’s business world. People saw that we built a product designed for this future — actually, for today for many businesses — and had proven it by solving these problems for more than a thousand extremely happy customers already.

We knew Bigleaf was on a promising trajectory and could be even more successful with more resources. We also saw a specific opportunity with MSP partners that we hadn’t tapped into at scale, and we saw the opportunity to bring our bigger vision for the next generation of Bigleaf to life. So we agreed to start talking to a few investors. As we considered who we might want to partner with, it was important for us to be able to maintain our Bigleaf way of doing business and who would provide the right kind of support as we scale and navigate challenges. We ended up selecting Updata Partners to lead the round, and we have participation from the Oregon Venture Fund, SeaChange Fund, and several of our other existing investors.

Updata reminds me in many ways of Bigleaf’s culture. They take a strong but humble approach to business (no big egos), they care about capital efficiency like I do, and they bring great expertise and connections. We’re excited about partnering with them on this next era of Bigleaf.

Building for the Future

Beyond taking what we’re already doing to more people, another top priority with this funding is building the Bigleaf of the future. We’re going to be investing significant resources to grow our development and product teams so we can create a new generation of network technology. These resources will also allow us to respond more quickly to the feature requests our community has been feeding us, including faster speeds, more features, and better visibility.

Enterprises both large and small are moving to SaaS and public cloud, and that journey always involves some network risk. We will continue building Bigleaf to serve our customers and partners by giving them peace of mind when they make that move.

Joel Mulkey, Founder and CEO

Joel Mulkey - CEO & Founder - Bigleaf Networks

Posted on: September 30, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

Our Vision Reflected: Delivering Innovative Solutions for Businesses

June 07, 2019

By Kevin O’Toole, Senior Vice President Product Management, Comcast Business

I always enjoy opportunities to talk about Comcast Business products because it’s easy to get excited around how we’re executing against our vision of delivering innovative solutions for business – solutions designed to help companies across the country go beyond the expected.

From providing the world’s best last-mile data products and leading-edge enterprise networking solutions, to offering managed services, voice, video and digital experiences that are fundamentally changing the way businesses operate, Comcast Business is making a big difference in helping companies succeed in the digital world.

While awards and trophies will always come secondary to that primary goal of helping customers, I was delighted to learn that the fruits of our labor and the way we are implementing our product vision have captured the attention of executives from around the country.

On June 11, Comcast Business will be honored at the 17th Annual American Business Awards® banquet, where we will receive seven awards for our innovation and product solutions, including a Gold Award for the Most Innovative Company of the Year and other recognitions for our ActiveCore(sm) and Business VoiceEdge® solutions.

One of seven programs sponsored by The Stevie Awards, The American Business Awards® are the only national, all-encompassing business awards program in the U.S. They feature a wide variety of categories to recognize achievement in every facet of the workplace, from customer service and management to public relations and product development. Award winners are selected by a panel of 200 executives across the country.

In honoring us with the Gold award, judges noted that Comcast Business “showed it’s moving with today’s fast tech world by introducing products and solutions that combine technologies and ultimately streamline our digital world.”

Executives judging the awards also bestowed Gold Awards on our:

  • IT Service Management Solution Award for ActiveCore(sm), which judges singled out for “great thinking” that is “future-proof” and “replac[es] legacy technologies at a huge scale.”
  • Telecommunications Service Award for Business VoiceEdge™, a “frustration-free” solution that “makes employees’ jobs easier” and is a “fantastic solution for distributed teams and telecommuting,” according to the judges.
  • Integration Solution for ActiveCore, which the judges said is a “great example of a solution that businesses need right now.”

We also will receive:

  • A Silver Award in the Cloud Platform category for ActiveCore, which judges hailed as “a great end-to-end solution for IT systems management” and a “brilliant way to upgrade clients on outdated infrastructure to the latest benefits of virtualized networks.”
  • A Bronze Award in the Business Services Innovation of the Year category for ActiveCore’s Voice Commands, which judges called “modern,” “consumer friendly,” and “a tremendous way to open the doors to other businesses in small communities.”
  • A Bronze Award in the Most Innovative Tech Company category, for our “significant business value” and its “numerous solutions to help make business easier.”

We are tremendously proud that Comcast Business stood out from the intense competition among the 3,800-plus nominations received. We are especially honored that executives from a range of industries recognize the generational moment that our ActiveCore Software-Defined Networking platform represents, and the ability of its gigabit-ready, digital experience to change the way everyone thinks about network and IT management. We’ve driven a tremendous amount of innovation in the last couple of years and there is certainly more to come.

Posted on: September 26, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

In 2019, it has become clear that SD-WAN has secured its position as the way forward for enterprise WAN connectivity. Market adoption is growing rapidly, and industry experts have declared a winner in the SD-WAN vs MPLS debate. For example, Network World called 2018 the year of SD-WAN, and before the end of Q3 2018 Gartner declared SD-WAN is killing MPLS. What’s driving all the excitement around SD-WAN? It effectively comes down to this: SD-WAN is more cost-effective and operationally agile than MPLS. SD-WAN reduces capex and opex while also simplifying WAN management and scalability.

However, if you don’t drill down beyond high-level conclusions, it can be hard to quantify how SD-WAN will matter for your business. Here, we’ll dive into the top 5 SD-WAN benefits and explain why IT professionals and industry experts alike see SD-WAN as the way forward for enterprises.

Reduced WAN Costs

MPLS bandwidth is expensive. On a “dollar per bit” basis, MPLS is significantly higher than public Internet bandwidth. Exactly how much more expensive will depend on a number of variables, not the least of which is location. However, the costs of MPLS aren’t just a result of significantly higher bandwidth charges. Provisioning an MPLS link often takes weeks or months, while a comparable SD-WAN deployment can often be completed in days. In business, time is money, and removing the WAN as a bottleneck can be a huge competitive advantage.

Just how big of a cost difference is there between MPLS and SD-WAN? The specifics of your network will be the real driver here. Expecting savings of at least 25% is certainly reasonable, and for many enterprises it can go well beyond that. For one Cato customer, MPLS was 4 times the cost of cloud-based SD-WAN despite MPLS only providing a quarter of the bandwidth.

For a real world example of how Nick Dell, an IT manager at a major auto manufacturer, optimized his WAN spending by ditching MPLS and moving to SD-WAN, check out this webinar.

Enhanced WAN Performance

MPLS was the top dog in enterprise WAN before cloud-computing and mobile smart devices exploded in popularity. Once cloud and mobile became mainstream, a fundamental flaw in MPLS was exposed. Simply put: MPLS is very good at reliably routing traffic between two static locations, but it isn’t good at meeting the demands of cloud and mobile.

With MPLS, enterprises have to deal with the “trombone effect”. Essentially, an MPLS-based WAN has to inefficiently backhaul Internet-bound traffic to a corporate datacenter. The same Internet-bound traffic is then routed back through the corporate datacenter. This places a drag on network performance and can really hurt modern services like UCaaS and videoconferencing.

As SD-WAN enables policy-based routing (PbR) and allows enterprises to leverage the best transport method (e.g. xDSL, cable, 5G, etc.) for the job, this means no more trombone effect and improved performance for mobile users and cloud services.

In addition to solving the trombone routing problem, SD-WAN is a game changer when it comes to last-mile performance. The same ability to leverage different transport methods enables a more advanced approach to link-bonding that can significantly improve last-mile resilience and availability.

Improved WAN Agility

MPLS wasn’t designed with agility in mind. SD-WAN on the other hand is designed to enable maximum agility and flexibility. By abstracting away the underlying complexities of multiple transport methods and enabling PbR, SD-WAN allows enterprises to meet the varying demands of cloud workloads and scale up or down with ease.

For example, onboarding a new office with MPLS can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. With Cato’s cloud-based SD-WAN, new sites can be onboarded in a matter of hours or days. Case in point: Pet Lovers Center was able to deploy two to three sites per day during their Cato Cloud rollout.

Similarly, adding bandwidth can take over a month in many MPLS applications, while SD-WAN enables rapid bandwidth provisioning at existing sites.

Simplified WAN Management

As we’ve mentioned, the long provisioning times with MPLS can create significant bottlenecks, but MPLS management issues go well beyond that. The larger an enterprise scales, the more complex WAN management becomes. Multiple appliances used for security and WAN optimization become a maintenance and management burden as an enterprise grows.. Further, gaining granular visibility into the network can be a challenge, which leads to monitoring and mean time to recover issues. Cloud-based SD-WAN adds value here by providing an integrated and centralized view of the network that can be easily managed at scale.

Increased WAN Availability

When it comes to uptime, redundancy and failover are the name of the game. While MPLS has a solid reputation for reliability, it isn’t perfect and can fail. Redundancy at the MPLS provider level is expensive and can be a pain to implement. SD-WAN makes leveraging different transport methods easy, thereby enabling high-availability configurations that help reduce single points of failure. If your fiber link from one ISP is down, you can failover to a link from another provider. Further, the self-healing features of cloud-based SD-WAN make achieving high-availability (HA) significantly easier than before.

The Cloud-Based Advantage

We’ve already mentioned a few ways cloud-based SD-WAN helps magnify SD-WAN benefits, but it is also important to note that cloud-based SD-WAN overcomes one of the major SD-WAN objections MPLS proponents have put forth. In the past, it could have been argued that the lack of SLAs meant SD-WAN solutions were not ready for showtime at the enterprise-level. However, with cloud-based SD-WAN from Cato, enterprises get all the benefits of SD-WAN, an integrated security stack, and an SLA-backed private backbone supported by Tier-1 ISPs across the globe.

Furthermore, this private backbone solves another problem other SD-WAN solutions cannot: latency across the globe. For international enterprises that must send traffic halfway across the world, routing WAN over the public Internet alone can lead to significant latency. In the past, this would mean dealing with the operational and dollar costs of MPLS to become worth it. However, cloud-based SD-WAN offers a more cost effective and operationally-efficient alternative. Cato’s global, private backbone has PoPs (Points of Presence) across the world that enable traffic to be reliably routed across at speeds that meet or exceed MPLS-level performance.

SD-WAN outstrips MPLS for the modern enterprise

While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to every WAN challenge, it’s clear that the majority of modern enterprises can benefit from SD-WAN. We can expect to see MPLS hold a niche in the market for years to come, but SD-WAN is better suited for most modern use-cases. In particular, cloud-based SD-WAN gives businesses a reliable, secure, and modern MPLS alternative that offers the agility of SD-WAN without sacrificing reliability or the peace of mind SLAs provide.

To learn more about what cloud-based SD-WAN can do for your business, join our upcoming Dark Side of SD-WAN webinar or contact us today.

Posted on: September 25, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

Technology moves fast, and as an IT professional you’re expected to navigate new technology and drive your company’s digital transformation. Your dear co-workers might ask questions like: “Why aren’t we using this app that came out four days ago? How quickly could we move all our data and applications to the cloud?” Working in IT means the expectations of your customers and co-workers are constantly rising. More so than ever, IT teams are under pressure to respond quickly to new technology and capabilities.

In addition to being the Magellan of technology at your company, you’re expected to manage inventory, implement cybersecurity, oversee data storage, build rocket ships, and so much more. Managing all these moving parts is daunting. Luckily, many of the challenges you and other departments in your company might face, can be simplified or automated with a CPaaS solution.

CPaaS allows you to customize your internal and external communications by integrating with your current business systems seamlessly. Easily deploy automation across your entire enterprise that improves communication and productivity for multiple departments.

Music to your ears, right? Here are a few ways that CPaaS can help you work more but do less:

Easily Deploy and Integrate

There’s no need to undo any work you’ve already done. Instead of overhauling all of your company’s communications processes you can leverage and enhance your existing systems, such as CRM, contact center, support ticket management systems, email platforms, and more. Your leadership team will appreciate that you can utilize existing investments, your co-workers will be amped that they don’t have to learn a new software, your customers will be delighted with your enhanced communications, and you will be able to take a deep breath with all the time you’ve saved. Maybe grab a coffee? An afternoon snack, perhaps? Up to you. We support it.

CPaaS is flexible, scalable, and you can use what you need when you need it. Use CPaaS for on-the-fly solutions like adding additional network capacity or as a back-up option if your contact center goes down.

Send Internal Alerts

You want to make sure your customers and coworkers are always in the know. Whether you’re setting up new employees with new equipment, managing customer service responses, or responding to external issues, CPaaS has your six. Save time and instantly notify your team of what’s new. From maintenance notifications, outages, password change reminders – you name it, CPaaS allows you to quickly send messages through voice, SMS, or other channels.

Streamline Trouble Tickets

Sometimes your help desk could use some help. Between computers crashing, software not working, someone not realizing their computer is unplugged, and a million other things out of your control, people are always submitting trouble tickets. You need an easy way to interact with your team members to let them know that their request is received as well as its status as it moves through the resolution process. CPaaS applications can automate many of these responses, allowing you to focus on solving the issue rather than communicating the troubleshooting process. Integrate with your favorite trouble ticket management system to make your help desk run a little smoother with automated status updates.

Proactively Monitor and Measure

While most CPaaS platforms do not offer analytics, IntelePeer is different. Not to toot our own horn…but…*toot toot*. Gain real-time and historical visibility across your network to pinpoint issues and make better decisions. View call volume and usage to better manage resources. Not only will our analytics help you react to changes and new trends, it will allow you to humble-brag the improvements you’ve made to your everyday business processes.

If you’ve made it this far, it means you’re probably picking up what we’re putting down. Learn more about how Atmosphere® CPaaS was built with IT teams in mind here.  We’re constantly making improvements to our products based on the feedback of our customers so be sure to visit our blog and check in!

Posted on: September 23, 2019 By: Carolyn Kuczynski

Imagine the day when every car on the road will be able to handle all aspects of driving without assistance. It won’t be long. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is driving autonomous technologies that are helping enterprises, industries, and the human race innovate our way out of much of the work we do today.

AI is about to make everything self-driving.

Soon, all networks will be agile, self-healing, and self-optimizing, serving up the right bandwidth at the right time for perfect cloud application performance. Security strategies are already leveraging AI to automate the response to cyber threats. The result: a sense of true freedom for IT teams to focus on the next big innovation.

With a clear vision of autonomous networking, Masergy is making significant strides in being among the first companies to start delivering the self-driving networks of the future. This week, we made a giant leap forward, announcing enhancements that are pushing the boundaries of automation. Released today, Masergy AIOps is the network service industry’s first AI-based network automation solution that will transform IT management and application performance as we know it.

But to understand how Masergy is delivering the future today, it helps to first examine the next steps necessary in arriving at autonomous networking.

AIOps: The Guidepost to Autonomy

The path to complete autonomy starts with a wide sweeping digital vision. First, the network must provide complete visibility into performance characteristics, application traffic, user traffic, and the design of various components. The next step in creating autonomy is to apply AI-based technologies, where behavior analytics and machine learning algorithms can more fully automate network management and application optimization. Gartner refers to this concept as “AIOps,” defining AI for IT operations as the application of machine learning and data science to IT operations problems.

Analysts believe the long-term impact of AIOps will be transformative for IT teams. According to Gartner, “organizations that automate more than 70% of their network change activities will reduce the number of outages by at least 50% and deliver services to their business constituents 50% faster.” With payouts like that, it’s no surprise that analyst Andrew Lerner advises IT executives to prioritize network automation investments in 2019.

AIOps solutions are new in the marketplace. But before we get into the details of Masergy’s offering, we should explore how AIOps platforms work.

Applying AI to Build a Self-Driving Network

AIOps platforms have the power to act as virtual assistants, and more specifically, digital network gurus. However, these gurus work 24/7, never sleep, and can ingest and analyze big data at nearly the speed of light. Aggregating real-time network activity, historical traffic, configuration settings, and usage, AIOps platforms generate contextual intelligence and help eliminate human errors that are still the root cause of most service degradations and outages today.

Through behavioral analysis and machine learning, AIOps can identify patterns, processes, and trends, making predictions about bandwidth needs and offering recommendations to solve age-old IT problems. With feedback and maturity, these solutions are used to design rule sets, policies, and playbooks that govern in unmanaged environments that are truly autonomous. Mature platforms can make all the difference. Advanced solutions with a library of specialization in AI practices and network optimization rulesets quickly move beyond the first steps of data aggregation and analysis with the ability to act on recommendations autonomously. This is where Masergy is headed.

It’s also important to note that not all IT infrastructures are designed for AI innovation. The underlying network must have a software-defined architectural model that supports real-time flexibility, big data collection, and secure analytics at speed and at scale. Networks that were architected for a previous era will likely never have AI-based enhancements. Meanwhile, Masergy’s software-defined network and cloud platform was built from the ground up for this type of innovation, and we’re aggressively forging the path toward autonomous networking.

Introducing Masergy AIOps

As I mentioned, Masergy AIOps is the network service industry’s first AI-based, digital assistant for network, application, and security optimization. Masergy AIOps is an intelligent assistant that actively serves customers as a network engineer, supporting administration and optimization. With our 20-year history in global software-defined networking, Masergy has incorporated decades of network management experience in designing the most sophisticated AI network application.

This initial launch marks the beginning of autonomous wide area networking for Masergy. We expect to deliver enterprise customers fully autonomous networking in the next few years, and Masergy AIOps is the first product release moving us firmly in the direction of this vision.

With autonomy in reach, we should be clear about what Masergy’s AIOps solution can and cannot do today. The solution applies machine learning and behavior analytics to the network, but it is not yet self-driving. Our next phases of development will focus on automated decision making and response. Right now, it’s a virtual analyst and advisor. Here’s what it can do today.

Capabilities and Benefits Today

With this initial release, Masergy customers receive intelligent alerts and recommendations for network changes that can increase performance and cloud application optimization–regardless of whether those apps are operating on private infrastructure or utilized across the public internet. Acting as a virtual assistant, Masergy AIOps analyzes how the network, application performance, and security are impacted by different events including various configurations and utilizations. The system then makes recommendations to enhance application performance, predict bandwidth needs and optimize network throughput based on anomaly detection and predictive analytics.

Key Features of Masergy AIOps

  • Intelligent analysis and recommendations to optimize multi-cloud environments
  • Sophisticated pattern recognition algorithms leveraging big data
  • Predictive anomaly detection with actionable insights
  • AI tools embedded in the customer portal–Masergy’s Intelligent Service Control
  • Expandable use cases for proactive network, application, and security optimization

Masergy AIOps Makes the Following Recommendations for Customers

  • Which path an application should take, based upon performance
  • When and where to add bandwidth, including cloud vendors
  • Network changes and configuration settings to optimize application performance, based on business needs and service priorities

Customer Benefits

  • Reduce noise from bandwidth usage alarms, based on static thresholds
  • Gain continuous 24/7 analysis across the network, application performance, and security
  • Get best-practice recommendations and actionable insights for performance optimization
  • Increase service quality and reduce business continuity risks with predictive algorithms
  • Quickly identify the probable cause of network service incidents
  • Decrease the number of support calls and lower IT costs

Exclusively Unique: AI Inside Your Network Management Portal

We did some competitive research and found that no other network service providers advertise AI-based network intelligence solutions as of today. Thus, Masergy is likely the first to deliver this capability to the network services market. While other AIOps solutions exist, our research found that they are largely point solutions with their own management portals. This means customers get AI analytics and recommendations in a separate portal that must be integrated into their network and IT environment.

We believe Masergy stands exclusively unique in this aspect: Today, no other network services provider offers a holistic approach that deeply embeds AI into a global software-defined network, making AI intelligence available directly within the existing management portal. In the digital age, this IT simplicity is fundamental. With Masergy AIOps, every Masergy customer now has a significant increase in the value of their network.

Autonomous networking is just around the corner, and as a 20-year pioneer in software-defined networking, Masergy can help you transform with certainty.

Watch the Masergy AIOps video, read the full product announcement and contact us for a free consultation, including a demonstration of Masergy AIOps and our SD-WAN management portal.

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