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Verizon Takes SDN Wireless, with the Help of AI

The nascent software-defined networking (SDN) approach continues to expand its reach, with wireless being among the newest frontiers in which it has made inroads. The move into the wireless ecosystem is exemplified by Verizon's debut of its Software Defined Wireless Local Area Network (SD WLAN) last week.

With the help of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technology from Mist Systems, the SD WLAN is said to increase visibility into corporate wireless network operations -- including Bluetooth-enabled devices connected to such networks -- with the aim of improving the user experience.

The self-described user-centric wireless LAN managed solution is under Verizon's Virtual Network Services umbrella. As far back as 2016, Verizon has positioned its new-age offerings as having wireless capabilities, as it sought to keep pace with SDN and network functions virtualization (NFV) functionality found in managed virtualized service products from rivals such as AT&T, Nuage Networks and Cisco.

Verizon Virtual Network Services
[Click on image for larger view.] Verizon Virtual Network Services (source: Verizon Enterprise Services).

"Verizon's Managed SD WLAN monitors and manages the wireless LAN automatically," the company said. "User and network data is analyzed in real time and used to identify network choke points, unauthorized user access attempts, etc. and can scale network resources up or down to meet demand."

The company said its new wireless offering can help organizations:

  • Deliver a richer user experience, including tailoring services based on user need and location
  • Increase automation and system intelligence to enable faster network configuration and improved operational controls
  • Identify, pinpoint and fix issues before customers are even aware of them
  • Control costs by using less hardware

"Our enterprise users are increasingly using wireless LANs, yet innovation around management of WLANs has not kept pace," said exec Vickie Lonker. "SD WLAN leverages the advanced intelligence and machine learning offered through Mist Systems' platform to improve network management and operations while controlling costs. It is the next step in our overall SDN strategy."

Moving SDN into the wireless arena isn't a brand-new concept in the era of new-age networking, as research going back to 2015 saw SDN touted as a tool to enable unification of LANs (wired and wireless).

And last year, a Cisco exec made some predictions for 2017, including: "Expect the SDN seeds to start sprouting in campus fabrics for both wired and wireless environments."

More data about the SDN intrusion into the wireless ecosystem can be found in a 2016 report from IEEE, titled "Wireless Software Defined Networking: A Survey and Taxonomy."

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.

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