CMC Networks Expands Their SD-WAN Business by Leveraging Enea's uCPE Software Platform

By Charlie Ashton

Charlie Ashton has long experience from the high-tech software and networking industries. He is currently consulting at 21K Consulting. The opinions expressed in this guest blog post are his own.

CMC SELECTS ENEA

CMC Networks, a Communications Service Provider (CSP) based in South Africa, recently announced their selection of Enea's white box universal CPE (uCPE) software platform. That's a nice vendor-customer press release, but digging into the details a bit reveals some interesting new business opportunities enabled by what's being termed the second generation of Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN).

In business for over 30 years, CMC is a global CSP that operates the largest pan-African network, serving 51 out of 54 countries in Africa, as well as extensive networks in the Middle East and Western Asia that extend into other regions via their wholesale partner programs. They provide their customers with a broad portfolio of network solutions that include Ethernet, MPLS, Dedicated Internet Access (DIA) and private line services.

FIRST-GENERATION SD-WAN HAS LIMITATIONS

CMC launched an SD-WAN service named "CMC - Rapid Adaptive Network" in 2018, based around a typical first-generation vertically-integrated solution, comprising proprietary software running on dedicated hardware appliances. CMC successfully entered the SD-WAN market with this solution and achieved some customer traction, but they soon discovered that it didn't meet the operational needs of customers with two specific deployment scenarios.

In the first scenario, many of CMC's enterprise customers have standardized internally on a specific vendor of security products and use that vendor's products exclusively across their networks. The vendor has typically completed extensive testing and certification by the enterprise's IT organization and has been adopted as a trusted company-wide standard. In this case, while the business benefits of SD-WAN are significant, the IT organization is unwilling to adopt an SD-WAN solution that includes security products from a new, uncertified vendor with whom they have no existing business relationship.

In the second scenario, CMC found that customers were willing to accept the security products packaged within an SD-WAN solution but were concerned about their ability to add new functions to their network after deployment. New next-generation firewalls, for example, are introduced regularly and these customers wanted the ability to take advantage of them as soon as possible by adding them as additional functions within their SD-WAN.

To meet these challenges and thereby expand their SD-WAN customer base, CMC needed to deploy unique combinations of network functions from multiple vendors on a flexible software platform located at each customer premise, that could be upgraded with additional functions after initial deployment.

uCPE TO THE RESCUE

Customized SD-WAN services catalogue enabled by Enea NFV Access and uCPE

Customized SD-WAN services catalogue enabled by Enea NFV Access and uCPECMC determined that the right approach would be a uCPE platform fully compatible with open standards for hosting Virtual Network Functions (VNFs), which at the same time minimized the costs of acquisition, installation, configuration and operation at remote customer locations. For scalability, the virtualization platform should support hardware ranging from low-end appliances up to high-end servers. For maximum efficiency across onboarding, installation, configuration and lifecycle management, the platform should provide centralized, secure cloud-based management while interfacing seamlessly with standard orchestration and OSS/BSS solutions.

Following a rigorous selection process, CMC selected Enea NFV Access as their uCPE software virtualization platform and Enea uCPE Manager as their cloud-based management solution, both supported by the expertise of the Enea Global Services organization.

Enea NFV Access is a software virtualization platform optimized for uCPE-based SD-WANs. Fully compatible with all applicable open standards, it has been validated with both VNFs and hardware platforms from multiple partners, ensuring maximum flexibility for customers in their vendor selection. Its onboarding wizard enables accelerated system deployments through efficient VNF onboarding, while it integrates with third-party orchestrators and service automation tools through standard interfaces. To minimize CAPEX and OPEX while ensuring minimum-footprint deployments, Enea VFN Access implements virtualization and management without the overhead of OpenStack. Full support for any standard server based on Intel architecture- or Arm-based processors enables customers to choose the hardware that best matches the resource requirements of their applications.

Complementing Enea NFV Access, Enea uCPE Manager controls the provisioning, configuration and management of customer premise functions such as SD-WANs. Deployed in either a private or public cloud data center, it enables customers to reduce the lifecycle operational costs of their SD-WANs by automating software upgrades as well as the monitoring of events and alarms. It delivers the robust security required by enterprises through secure management communications, secure boot and role-based access control policies.

SECOND-GENERATION SD-WAN ADDRESSES NEW CUSTOMERS

The combination of Enea NFV Access and Enea uCPE Manager enables CMC Networks to provide uCPE-based managed SD-WAN services to new types of enterprise customers. It's now cost-effective for them to support enterprises who have specific requirements for VNF vendors or need the flexibility to change and expand the range of services in their SD-WAN after initial deployment. Through this second-generation SD-WAN architecture, CMC has expanded the market for their SD-WAN services while also accelerating their customers' business transformations.

Read the full case study (PDF)