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NEC’s Software Defined WAN trial a success

NEC Corporation’s Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SDWAN) has completed a successful trial with the University of Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) , Malaysia.

Funded by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications of Japan, the trial began in September 2018 using the WAN infrastructure in UniKL as the test bed.

The SDWAN Common Security Platform is a software defined wide area network solution created to reduce costs and improve network security. The proof of concept (PoC) focus points for the trial included the central management of network and security, basic SDWAN functionalities and cost optimised vendor agnostic solution.

According to Chong Kai Wooi, Managing Director of NEC Malaysia, “We need to continue to innovate and evolve. Today, cloud services are fast but getting the network still takes time. The challenge is to ensure network resources are as provision as the cloud and SDWAN does this.”

Echoing his sentiments was Taro Hashimoto, Deputy Director, Office of the Director-General for Cybersecurity, Japan. He said that this collaboration with UniKL is the most successful project by NEC and that collaborations are important in cybersecurity.

There were three use cases tested during the PoC. This included central control devices, dynamic load sharing and endpoint security. For central control devices, SDWAN was able to have a centralised control and monitoring of multi-site and all network devices. Using a single GUI, this allowed visualisation and monitoring of end-to-end network traffic in multi-vendor environments as well as reduce human errors.

During a live demo at UniKL, Mark Tsujikawa, Business Development Director/Senior Technology Expert of NEC showed the results of a virtual private network configuration comparison between a manual configuration and a SDWAN controller. The SDWAN controller proved to be able to complete the task in half the time of a manual configuration.

In dynamic load sharing, SDWAN allowed route optimisation based on application requirements. In the case of UniKL, the traffic for video was high requiring high bandwidth. SDWAN was able dynamically allocate the resources using existing legacy devices. It can be route optimised based on application requirements.

The most interesting use case tested was the endpoint security. By collaborating with cybersecurity companies, SDWAN was able to detect malicious communications from BYoD and IoT devices and take action not just on managed devices but on unmanaged devices as well. When a threat like malware is detected, it does not shutdown a system but instead blocks the traffic.

The trial showed implementing SDWAN Security Common Platform gives greater flexibility, agility and security to the university’s networks and allows UniKL to make the most out of their existing infrastructure.

This is because looking at OPEX, the SDWAN Common Security Platform only requires one personnel to operate compared to others that normally require about four IT personnel. For CAPEX, the SDWAN works with legacy equipment requiring only a license and does not need any new hardware installation.

With the successful trial, NEC Malaysia delivered OpenMSA, an open network orchestration framework and a core component of NEC’s SDWAN Security Common Platform, for the UniKL-NEC SDx Center of Excellence. The center was established to groom Malaysia network engineering talents and spearhead Malaysia’s research on the latest networking technologies, including Software-Defined Networking, Internet of Things and 5G mobile communications.

OpenMSA is a DevOps ready programmable orchestrator designed to ease the use and integration of network and security systems. It enables easy design of process automation across the infrastructure continuum. Adding to that, its architectural positioning allows the use of multi-vendor and multi domain. OpenMSA is used by service provider engineers, IT and security managers and IT solution developers.

“The challenges that customers always feedback to us is that there is a lack of skilled resources to be able to support them, so we hope with this collaboration with UniKL, we are able to train up enough network expertise who are able to contribute to both the government and enterprise sector,” added Chong.

He also said that NEC will bring in more use cases into the lab for the students to experience and learn to apply in real world applications within the context of the Malaysian industries. This will provide a platform not just to innovate students but also allow enterprises to view the solutions.

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