GTT wants to connect multinationals with own network and SD-WAN

Get a free Techzine subscription!

GTT is working hard to become one of the largest SD-WAN suppliers in the world. It’s not doing this by developing SD-WAN hardware, but by delivering and managing a solid SD-WAN solution. The company challenges the current market with its own worldwide Tier 1-network and SD-WAN solution.

To get a better insight into the SD-WAN solution, we spoke to Mark de Haan, Senior Vice President Benelux at GTT. He gives us a glimpse into the product GTT is bringing to the market today, how it was created and which core elements are being used to serve businesses best.

In 2020, GTT wants to grow in the SD-WAN market substantially, and the company has everything it needs to do that. The uprise of SaaS solutions has already convinced many companies, partly due to their speed, efficiency and the fact that the supplier and not the customer performs much of the maintenance. As a result, the focus of many companies has been shifted more towards internet and connectivity. They no longer work from their own local servers, but use dozens of internet services for their daily operations.

If you’re acting as an SME in Western Europa, this probably all works just fine. But if you decide to take your company multinational, and it becomes active across the world, suddenly new connectivity problems arise. Every employee needs to be able to work with a web application just as quickly as their colleagues across the world. Unfortunately, this is not always easy. The application is usually offered from a location near the head office of the customer. Most of the time, this is not a problem for employees working in the head office, but for branch offices in different regions or even continents, it’s a different story. Then a proper SD-WAN solution comes into play.

Your application runs faster and better with SD-WAN

By using SD-WAN, your applications will run better and faster. It does this with 2 specific characteristics, De Haan says. “Firstly we use all the available bandwidth of the previously dormant backup lines. Secondly, SD-WAN makes sure applications don’t experience any problems that may occur on the lines. Even if those problems, like packet loss or jitter, do occur, SD-WAN masks them with specific techniques.” Furthermore, with SD-WAN also makes it easier to control which route the traffic should take. In the case of GTT, the SD-WAN solutions get configured in a way that traffic goes straight to GTT’s Tier 1 network.

GTT has built its own Tier 1 network to handle the traffic. This enables a faster internet connection from, for example, Europe to the USA than is available via the public route. The latency on these connections is simply lower, increasing the performance and usability of these applications tremendously. De Haan states: “Many applications, such as Office 365 of Google G Suite, are directly connected to the GTT network, which is not the case if you build your network with local, national ISPs. As a result, applications work better.”

The Tier 1 network of GTT may not be known to everyone. It has been built up over the years, mainly as a result of the acquisition of Interoute and later KPN International. These are more well-known names. GTT uses its own network for its Tier 1 network but also rents capacity from competitors or colleagues to ensure the network is as optimal as possible. The GTT network has worldwide coverage with more than 600 POPs (points of presence). From a pop, you can directly access the GTT network.

Another advantage of GTT’s Tier 1 network is that the first part of the connection through the public internet is encrypted before the GTT network takes over. For many companies, this means that they can partly of fully say goodbye to their private MPLS networks, which are often more expensive and complex to maintain.

Important: SD-WAN makes your network more secure

Making connections faster is one of the major advantages of SD-WAN, but possibly more important is that the connections also become more secure. SD-WAN also applies encryption, securing the data passing through the network.

As mentioned earlier, GTT doesn’t build their own hardware, but it delivers a turnkey SD-WAN solution to companies and also handles management en configuration. In the end, SD-WAN is a fairly complex product, for which a good tailor-made policy needs to be made. Each company uses its own applications on unique locations. This requires a customized solution.

Some suppliers claim that its possible to come up with a quick solution, but then you will not have full control over security. The main advantage of GTT is that they also have their own Tier 1 network. Other SD-WAN solutions grant you control your traffic route, but you have to check which networks are available and which providers and geographic parts of the world you may or may not trust. With SD-WAN, traffic accesses its own network as quickly as possible. This is much more transparent for the customer.

Working from home brings new challenges

As more and more people start working from home, new challenges arise. In the Netherlands, Germany and Scandinavia, most homes already have a stellar internet connection. In other countries, like the Great-Britain, Italy or Spain, this may not yet be the case. Offices are usually connected by fibre optics, but many homes aren’t. People there often work on limited connections. Because of this, many web applications are slow, and employees are less efficient. By applying SD-WAN to home connections, these connections can be used to their fullest, and employees become a lot more efficient.

Providing everyone at home with an SD-WAN connection isn’t always desirable. That is why you often see combinations with VPN solutions. This is also part of the GTT package.

What does GTT use for their own GTT solutions?

GTT delivers an extensive SD-WAN solutions to their customers, for which GTT used third party devices and solutions. Ultimately, the company doesn’t build its own hardware. We asked De Haan to walk us through the setup GTT uses. De Haan tells us GTT has chosen to build a single control panel for their customers, in which they can view, monitor and if needed manage their complete SD-WAN network. De underlying hardware of solution can come from different suppliers. GTT’s experts assess the best solution for every situation. In some cases, the best solution ends up being a mix of multiple products.

Generally, GTT makes use of Fortinet, Silverpeak and Velocloud. These three companies are well respected in their market for their solutions, especially in the field of SD-WAN. For those reasons, Silver Peak has been acquired by HPE and Velocloud by VMWare. Thus, the management portal of GTT is compatible with all three of these solutions.

Security in different flavours

GTT can deliver different flavours of SD-WAN security. Companies can choose from a standard configuration and maintenance contract for SD-WAN or can receive additional firewalls or DDoS protection from GTT. A complete SOC that monitors the network 24/7 is also available.

Ultimately, SD-WAN on the worldwide scale that GTT operates in is best suited to large enterprise organisations. They love these kinds of additional services because network security is essential these days.

Combination Tier 1 network with SD-WAN sets GTT apart from competition

In the end, GTT sets itself apart from other SD-WAN providers with its own worldwide network. Of course, many other ISPs offer some managed SD-WAN, but their networks usually aren’t nearly as extensive as GTT’s is. Also, GTT used three leading providers for their SD-WAN equipment, which are all compatible with GTT’s management solution and configuration, all tailor-made for each customer.