VirtuTel eyes SDN to build self-service network

VirtuTel's transition from a network aggregator to a data and voice wholesaler

VirtuTel is harnessing OpenFlow to build an online portal that will allow its customers to order services and then have them automatically provisioned from within the wholesaler's network.

It's part of a transformation for Melbourne-based company that has seen it shift from being a network services aggregator to operating its own international network.

"We started off aimed squarely at systems integrators and those that didn't have the ability to set up and run their own networks," said managing director David Allen.

"So we provided private networks, IP telephony, all those facilities for them. They would white label it and provide those services to their customers."

Around three years ago, the company started rolling out its own network, and the profile of its customers has broadened somewhat since then.

As well as points of presence in all of Australia's capitals, it has PoPs in Auckland, Los Angeles, and Singapore.

The company began a major refresh of its networking gear mid-way through 2014, starting with its Brisbane and Perth PoPs.

The company has been deploying Brocade ICX switches and NetIron CER 2000 routers, sourced from ASI Solutions, to replace end-of-life Cisco gear.

Three of VirtuTel's 12 PoPs are still to be upgraded.

VirtuTel was after hardware that would have a significant lifespan and that the company could potentially redeploy elsewhere in the network in response to growth, Allen said. Value for money and feature-set were also key considerations.

VirtuTel's plans to exploit the new hardware's support for OpenFlow 1.3 to deliver the online self-service portal for customers, Allen said.

"We're trying to move to an all automated provisioning and management network," he said.

"So basically, we're trying to provide a web portal to our end customers where they can go on and order services. Services are then provisioned within our network; so it will look after putting things like VRFs to private networks, IP addressing details, any QoS settings."

Using the system VirtuTel will also be able to retrieve details on network configuration from routers and switches, Allen added.

"We'll start rolling in the SDN functionality towards the end of this year," he said.

The company is also in the process of becoming a tier one voice carrier; and was an factor in the company's hardware refresh.

"We needed equipment that had the grunt to run our voice network over," Allen said.

"We're in the process of becoming a fully fledged carrier — one of seven in Australia. We're doing direct interconnect arrangements with Telstra and Optus and have our own number ranges. We're rolling that out first to Melbourne."

"Within the next six months we'll be up and running," he said.

"We put a lot of thought into where we would like to take the business and basically put a mark to say, 'We're here — we provide wholesale network services,'" Allen said.

"We decided, 'Okay, let's move more into voice and let's do the full interconnect.'"

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Tags Case studiesOpenFlow 1.3Networkingsoftware-defined networking (SDN)Telecommunicationssoftware-defined-networkingCase StudyVirtuTelOpenFlowbrocadeSDN

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