Verizon will introduce a virtualized firewall service across its global network later this month, part of its move into software-defined networking.
The aim is to help businesses such as manufacturers or retailers, who may be running networks in far-flung places, to have better security when connecting their applications to the corporate network, said Shawn Hakl, head of network platforms and managed services for Verizon Enterprise Solutions.
The type of organizations Verizon is aiming to attract are those running a Layer 3 private network who may want a better and more reliable connection for people using mobile apps.
Mobile users will connect to whatever network is available and then onto Verizon's private network, Hakl said. Applications can securely connect, and the traffic can be put through the usual security inspections before it goes into the corporate network.
"You can make sure that you essentially got a secure transaction," Hakl said. "You can establish an encrypted tunnel to that device, and you can ensure that data is not exposed."
The primary use case Verizon sees now for the technology is for 4G or LTE modems in the back of routers, Hakl said. Some businesses use those type of connections as a backup for primary wireline circuits.
The connections made should result in a better user experience, and there is little configuration that needs to be done on end-user devices, he said.
"It will then become a game of how efficiently you can connect to the various operators to try to optimize the number of connections you can get and then putting the smartest pipe across that," he said.
Verizon is one of many large network operators looking to SDN to bring more flexibility to the services they offer to customers and at a lower price.
Last week, Verizon introduced a SD WAN product, which allows organizations to set up a point-to-point network, Hakl said. Rather than making do with the limitations of physical equipment set up at the network's edge, admins gain finer-grained control over routing for better application performance.
Hakl said SDN will prove to be just as disruptive to networking as virtualization was to the data center industry.
SDN offers cost as well as management benefits. Physical network appliances can, in some case, be replaced with virtualized ones that can be centrally managed. It allows admins more flexibility and changes to be made faster.
In April, Verizon said it was moving to a SDN networking architecture, working with partners including Cisco, Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson, Juniper Networks and Nokia Networks. With those companies, Verizon said it created an architecture document, which describes interface specifications and reference architectures.
The document prompted curiosity over which vendors might have the most to gain depending on the Verizon's direction.
Hakl said Verizon is committed to working with multiple vendors, and that the guiding philosophy when making decisions is driven by the needs of its customers.
"We don't think the industry is at a point where you can pick winners and losers," Hakl said. "We don't just release a specification and beat our vendors into submission."