Carriers are going virtual to give enterprises more freedom

A new global service from Orange includes a virtualized firewall and plug-and-play routers for branch sites

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A booth sign at Mobile World Congress 2016 shows the logo of mobile operator Orange in a file image captured on Feb. 25, 2016. Credit: Stephen Lawson

Starting carrier services like routing and security is getting faster and easier thanks to a new way of deploying them that doesn’t require specialized equipment at customer’s sites.

The new approach, called virtualized business services, lets various carrier services run on standard infrastructure at either customer sites or service-provider facilities. Because the services are virtual, companies can order and change them quickly, and they won’t get locked into whatever capabilities come with a particular device.

On Monday, Orange Business Services launched its virtualized network services program, called Easy Go Network. It joins AT&T, Verizon and other operators that are selling or developing such programs. Easy Go Network is available as a month-to-month subscription and its launch follows a year-long customer trial. Orange Business Services claims more than 3,000 multinational organizations as customers.

The service starts out focused on security at branch offices but will expand to include other functions and larger sites, Orange said. The first network function on offer is a virtual firewall based on Fortinet Security Fabric technology. It’s application-aware and can perform intrusion prevention, web content filtering, malware defense and other firewall tasks.

Orange plans to deliver other virtualized network functions, including application optimization and Wi-Fi management, through its infrastructure starting next year.

Easy Go Network subscribers can also get a branch-office router that’s designed for “plug and play” installation in less than five minutes. The router is UCPE (universal customer premises equipment), meaning it could perform other functions in addition to routing. Customers can order it at the end of this month.

The router will prevent customers having to wait for Orange engineers to perform installation – also a big money-saver for the carrier – and let them use the same kind of equipment at all branch sites around the world. Ordering, reporting and support will all be available through a common portal.

Orange is exploring what other functions the branch router might perform. A UCPE device for larger sites is coming next year, Orange said.

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