Verizon Virtualizes And Packages Network Services For Partners, Business Customers

Verizon is virtualizing and bundling its network services into easy-to-deploy packages for business customers looking to transition away from hardware in favor of flexible, software-based infrastructure.

Verizon’s new Virtual Network Services packages unveiled on Thursday will initially include security, WAN optimization, and SD-WAN services. The services are designed to help business customers with multiple locations, including small and midsize businesses (SMBs) and enterprises, transition to a virtual infrastructure model. The latest services will also be available through Verizon’s agent partner channel.

Verizon has been virtualizing its own network with SDN technology since 2009. The latest packages are the next step – the virtualization of network functions offered as a fully managed, globally available service for customers, according to Vickie Lonker, director of product marketing for networking for Basking Ridge, N.J.-based Verizon.

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’Just like Verizon, customers need efficient and resilient ways for apps to safely get to multiple destinations using multiple networks … they need solutions that offer integrated management from the app, to the cloud, in a simple way that hopefully also decreases their total cost of ownership,’ Lonker told CRN.

Each new service can be deployed across public, private, and wireless networks from Verizon or other service providers, or a combination of providers across multiple networks. Verizon is partnering with several technology partners to deliver each package, and partners and customers can choose services based on the vendor.

As of today, businesses can choose a virtualized security services package with technology from Cisco, Juniper, Fortinet, and Palo Alto Networks. The virtualized WAN optimization package incorporates Riverbed or Cisco technology. And the SD-WAN package can include technology from Viptela, Juniper, or Cisco. Verizon plans to add more technology partners and solutions to its Virtual Network Services packages down the road, Lonker said.

Customers can deploy the virtualized network services in three ways. Immediately available will be a "white box" deployment option via universal customer premises equipment (CPE). Cloud-based virtual CPE services will be available in the fall, or, customers can choose to deploy hybrid services to mix premises-based and cloud-based deployment models.

A subscription-based virtualized deployment model can help businesses save on hardware refresh costs. It also cuts down on the number of purpose-built appliances needed because multi-vendor technology and network functions can reside on the same box or platform, she said.

’With virtual network services, the customer gets a virtualized instance of that function, the associated compute and storage to support the function, and it’s all wrapped up by Verizon with a managed services layer,’ she said.

Melillo Consulting, a solution provider and technology integrator based in Somerset, N.J., has been paying attention to the SDN trend and how virtualized network functions can help SMB customers simplify their network infrastructure and keep it up to date.

Melillo, a Verizon partner, will be especially interested in offering the virtualized security package to its end-customers, said Henry Fastert, chief technology officer for Melillo Consulting.

’The concept of a software-defined firewall, provided and maintained by Verizon, is very appealing to small and midsized companies because they’ll never have the resources around threat identification that someone like Verizon has, for example,’ Fastert said.

Using the self-service portal, business customers can rapidly provision, scale, and deploy new software or functions.

Unlike AT&T's Network Functions on Demand managed service that was announced Monday, Verizon's Virtual Network Services will be available through partners. Verizon is currently working on a training program – an extension of its internal program – for agent partners first, Lonker said.

’Agent partners will be the ones most able to sell this. Resellers will come next, and we are working on a training and certification program for the technology for them,’ she said.