AT&T reported that customer connections into its SD-WAN Static Network Based product has surged 700% over the last few weeks tied to the ongoing COVID-19 virus outbreak. However, it noted that it has been able to maintain network performance because of the platform’s cloud-based nature.
The cloud-based product, which the carrier describes as a “network-based IP remote access VPN” and has the obtuse ANIRA acronym, uses Internet Protocol Security (IPSec) to authenticate and encrypt data traveling over a broadband network. It uses an on-premises white box gateway to support multiple users and access methods and can be deployed with a software client application running on a user’s laptop or an AT&T Global Network Client hardware device.
In a blog post, AT&T CTO Andre Fuetsch explained that the cloud-based nature of the product allows for a “plug-and-play” installation and activation process, which in turn has led to the increased use of the platform.
Fuetsch also touted the carrier’s multi-year work toward virtualizing its network assets. AT&T CFO John Stephens earlier this year said the carrier had virtualized 71% of its network functions at the end of 2019, and expected to hit its long-standing goal of virtualizing 75% of its network functions by the end of 2020.
AT&T initially announced the SD-WAN platform in 2017. The carrier expanded the product to more than 150 countries and territories the following year.
The carrier also offers an over-the-top (OTT) SD-WAN service from VMware’s VeloCloud that was initially announced in late 2016.
COVID-19 Impact on SD-WAN
SD-WAN vendors have been noting an uptick in usage as enterprises make moves to have their employees work from home amid the ongoing COVID-19 virus outbreak.
Cisco said that it had seen the average number of daily remote connections from its employees worldwide spike from 20,000 to 30,000 connections per day to now more than 170,000 connections per day.
Cato Networks CEO Shlomo Kramer recently said it has seen “remote access adoption more than double since the outbreak of COVID-19.”
Tangentially, Microsoft said that its cloud-based Teams collaboration platform had seen a 775% increase in calls and meetings among monthly users over a one-month period in parts of Italy under enforced social distancing or shelter-in-place orders.