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Mushroom Networks extends its VNF WAN tools to partners

Mushroom Networks announced the availability of its VNF WAN tools to new and existing partners. Also, Level 3 introduces a managed SD-WAN service.

Mushroom Networks this week made its virtual network functions, WAN tools and overlay tunnel technology available to partners.

Mushroom launched VNF Design Studio in September 2016 as an internal tool to allow enterprise and SMB customers to tap into a library of virtual network functions, or VNFs, to create their own custom network capabilities on its proprietary devices. Now, partners can access the VNF framework and the associated overlay tunnels to craft their own services, according to Mushroom Networks' CEO Cahit Akin.

"We're opening that [VNF Design Studio] capability for our partners, so we can basically generate these overlay tunnels for their service," Akin said.

These overlay tunnels, acting as VNFs, can access multiple WAN connections to carry out configured network traffic prioritization. Mushroom's partners can customize the connections to meet their customers' network needs using the drag-and-drop VNF library without requiring a firmware upgrade, Akin said. Some of the available WAN tools include voice over IP, a bonding tunnel for large file transfers and a "chatty application tunnel" that helps reduce latency for interactive use cases, he added.

These VNFs are delivered as a service to the partners' customers, but Akin said Mushroom will still provide technical support and troubleshooting.

"We provide our support services that our partners can pass on to our clients -- it's almost like an outsourced service," Akin said. "However, we also provide the tools for our partners to take over the management and control of the devices, if they prefer to do so."

Additionally, while Mushroom provides its own management portal, partners and their customers can opt to use a third-party management system, he said. These WAN tools and partnered services work with all of Mushroom's existing SD-WAN products.

Mushroom has traditionally worked with integrators, resellers and managed service providers to offer its services to customers, according to Akin. The new offering, Akin said, will let service providers and partners market a more robust package of services.

Level 3 introduces managed SD-WAN to its product portfolio

Level 3 Communications has joined the growing number of service providers with managed software-defined WAN services. Level 3 did not disclose whose technology it uses to power its service, which launched in June; the offering is part of its larger enterprise product portfolio, which includes hybrid WAN, cloud and security services.

"[Businesses] now more than ever have pretty sophisticated networking needs," said Andrew Dugan, Level 3's CTO. "And as time has gone on, we've found that one of the things customers want to leverage is different types of network connectivity from their locations that are optimized for the use cases they have."

While Level 3's existing hybrid WAN service works with multiple connectivity types and has been successful with customers, Dugan said SD-WAN provides centralized policy management that allows more customer control.

"That's the thing that's driven the need for these SD-WAN services: the ability to go to a location, put in a managed device, connect multiple access technologies and configure that managed device for which access to use for which application," he said.

For its managed SD-WAN service, Level 3 provides an x86-based device loaded with the needed software. Customers can bring their own connectivity, Dugan said, or they can request Level 3 to order connectivity through preferred local providers. As of the first quarter of 2017, the service provider had approximately 48,000 global customers.

Last year, CenturyLink, which offers its own SD-WAN service, announced its intent to acquire Level 3. Dugan said the two companies will consider how to position their services during the integration planning process.

"We are still operating as competitors in the market," he said. "Although we are doing some high-level integration planning with them, there's still a lot to be figured out."

Meantime, NetFortris, a cloud communication service provider based in Plano, Texas, introduced Total Control WAN, an SD-WAN service underpinned by technology from VeloCloud.

Total Control WAN integrates with third-party broadband services and NetFortris' current networking portfolio, which includes traditional connectivity options like broadband, Ethernet, wireless and MPLS. For centralized management, the service includes a cloud portal where customers can view and adjust network policies and application priority, according to the NetFortris website.

Other service providers that have partnered with VeloCloud include AT&T, Sprint, Mitel, Windstream, MetTel and EarthLink.

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