Indian CSPs are geared up to exploit SD-WAN: Rakesh Goyal, Infinity Labs

Technologies such as SD-WAN have the ability to provide technical solutions to companies and their employees in the new business paradigm of remote working or flexible work. And Infinity Labs, the Pune-headquartered technology consulting and software solutions company, which has partnered with Palo Alto Networks, is creating an indigenous next-generation secure SD-WAN solution to help CSPs.

In an exclusive, Rakesh Goyal, Chief Executive Officer, Infinity Labs, interacted with Anusha Ashwin of Voice&Data to describe how SD-WAN and a secure network are the need of the hour and how his company is helping CSPs and enterprises manage their network and ensure business continuity during the pandemic.

Few Excerpts:

Voice&Data (V&D): This year India celebrates its 25 years of mobile telephony. As a seasoned telecom professional with 3 decades of experience working in this field, what are some of your views about the present Indian telecommunications market and its evolution?

Rakesh Goyal (RG): The industry has dramatically evolved. The forward-march, in spite of minor speed bumps, has been nothing less than spectacular.

Globally, the Indian telecommunications market now ranks amongst the fastest growing and most competitive ones. Its 1.17 billion-subscribers-strong telecommunications network, internet user-base, and market share are the second-largest in the world. That’s a remarkable achievement for a 150+-year-old telecom sector that was government-owned until 1984.

Fast-paced market-liberalization and the introduction of mobile telephony proved to be the much-needed accelerators. We have witnessed the mobile subscriber base’s growth from 2 million to a billion. Some of the lowest call-tariffs, higher internet penetration, and a consistent expansion of teledensity from 3.60% to the present-day 90% are significant developments.

The ongoing pandemic has been tragic. However, it has also put a spotlight on internet reliability, bandwidth, uptimes, feasibility, remote working concepts, and the relevance of cloud adoption by enterprises.

Indian telecommunications market’s strength is being tested, and it hasn’t disappointed so far. We firmly believe that all businesses willing to move towards rapid digital transformations have sufficient reasons to be optimistic about the Indian telecommunications market’s future.

V&D: The new normal – servicing for this requires a lot of adaptation and also the ability to help customers adapt. How did Infinity Labs scale up operations to meet this new normal condition? How did Indian customers find this scale up and digital transformation easy?

RG: Our experience at Infinity Labs and most Indian businesses’ proactiveness to evolve has been encouraging. The extent of digital transformation and movement to the cloud that was expected in the near future is now being fast-tracked.

I think it’s fair to acknowledge that the speed at which companies in India had to adapt to this new normal initially left many of them grappling. They had a limited or no scope to plan for the transition or put any infrastructure and necessary tools in place.

Frequent lockdowns, overall economic slowdown, fluctuating demand, operational difficulties, supply chain issues, the sudden shift to remote working with inadequate safeguards, and growing vulnerabilities to cyberthreats have been some of the everyday struggles for the enterprise segment.

The eventual goal was, and still is, to ensure safe and secure business continuity with the least disruptions. Our team realized the need of the hour and channelized attention towards transforming the enterprise network.

Our focus moved to preparing network capabilities, and SD-WAN, an industry-agnostic solution that enables cost optimization of WAN and overall efficiency improvement.

We observed the growing dependency on WAN, maintaining un-compromised application performance, and extending enterprise-grade security to individuals working from home. Our focus moved to preparing network capabilities, and SD-WAN, an industry-agnostic solution that enables cost optimization of WAN and overall efficiency improvement.

Many enterprises understood the cost and efficiency benefits of making the appropriate SD-WAN investment. They need to be careful in identifying ‘SD-WAN-like’ offerings, not necessarily abiding by SDN rules and the ones built on Router or Firewall platforms not capable of delivering real benefits of SD-WAN.

Infinxt SD-WAN, one of our flagship indigenously developed products, ticked all the boxes. Starting from PoCs and now moving to deployments, it has turned out to be the go-to solution for ensuring business agility, inherent economics, and optimized cloud architecture through inbuilt NGFW.

By and large, we are successfully able to help customers adapt. We intend to continuously add value by staying agile and flexible and helping customers address their challenges.

V&D: Can you share a few facts and figures from Infinity Labs’ post-lockdown analysis on how the company’s business propagated owing to the increased demand for digital transformation services?

RG: The lockdown-relaxations certainly allowed us to review the impact of growing demands for digital transformations on our business.

Our analysis revealed the enterprise segment’s increased reliance on internet reliability, virtual tools, remote working, security, and the cloud.

Unplanned transition and lack of necessary infrastructure or tools for supporting employees or IT teams led to a sharp rise in network-related problems. It resulted in poor workflow management and productivity losses. A large number of individuals utilizing home networks for official work also added to the concerns around enterprise network security. These challenges further emphasized a solution for enhancing enterprise network security, enabling bandwidth aggregation and optimization.

These challenges further emphasized a solution for enhancing enterprise network security, enabling bandwidth aggregation and optimization.

Our efforts paid attention to explaining the value-addition provided by the SD-WAN technology and Infinxt SD-WAN, one of our flagship products, in transforming their enterprise networks and offering the required security.

V&D: When it comes to upgrading, automating, and synergizing data, it is believed that Indian enterprises still have a long way to go. How is your company rightly placed to help enterprises automate their workflow procedure, give them real-time insights, and aid in decision making on business operations?

RG: There are encouraging signs, and Indian enterprises are catching up. Effective workflow procedures are indispensable for executing business processes and achieving desired outcomes. Data, user-defined rules, and tasks play a crucial role.

Workflow automation advantages are hardly debatable. At Infinity Labs, we help enterprises reimagine network automation. INFIWORX, one of our highly-successful and unique products, enables our customers to automate various aspects of the network, including deployment, testing, inventory reconciliation, software updates, config management, and compliance management. It allows customers to leverage a single source of truth of their network data, gain complete visibility, real-time insights, and verify the network behavior to avoid outages.

Our Infinxt Secure SD-WAN solution has also fast-established its credibility for ensuring improved network resilience and business agility through rapid and easy deployment. These developments have helped to act as catalysts for our customers’ digital transformations.

V&D: Can you elaborate on the association with Palo Alto Networks? What was the strategy behind this partnership and how will this partnership be furthered in the coming months?

RG: We are excited about this partnership. Be it as their professional services partner focusing on global automation needs or establishing a joint ODC in India providing services for their end customers or having the TAC support extended for their products, we’ve had a strong partnership with Palo Alto for quite some time. Our partnership is intended to be a long-term, stable, and mutually-beneficial one.

Palo Alto is an established name when it comes to advanced firewalls, and cloud-based offerings covering other aspects of security. Therefore, bearing in mind the fast-changing dynamics and security concerns, InfiNxt, our Secure SD-WAN solution, comes with an inbuilt next-generation firewall (NGFW) from  Palo Alto Networks.

We’ve had a strong partnership with Palo Alto for quite some time. Our partnership is intended to be a long-term, stable, and mutually-beneficial one.

We believe this combination is an unmatchable offering for our customers. It brings next-generation firewall capabilities into InfiNxt SD-WAN, makes it the most agile, feature-rich, and secure solution available in the market.

Palo Alto’s advantages also include Layer 7 Security, PANDB URL Filtring, Threat Prevention, DNS Security, WildFire Support, and flexibility for enterprises to adopt Palo Alto Networks solution’s security features at a later stage.

We have tested the solutions jointly and created a unified support model. It ensures that our customers get the best single window support and leverage all ongoing developments.

Palo Alto can address the security requirements of price-conscious customers, and Infinity Labs gets to augment its SD-WAN solution through a reliable security partner in the form of Palo Alto Networks.

V&D: SD-WAN is obviously a much sought-after solution for today’s network operators. What is your take on this solution? How relevant is it for Indian CSPs and how is Infinity Labs rightly positioned to deliver the needs? Why must Indian enterprises act fast on the adoption of SD-WAN?

RG: The inability of traditional WAN networks to handle growing application traffic, enable prioritization and bandwidth aggregation between multiple transports and increasing customer demands for application flexibility and Quality of Experience (QoE) are some of the factors that reiterate the relevance of SD-WAN.

A Gartner report suggests that 90% of router refreshes by 2022 are set to be replaced by vCPE or SD-WAN. It is likely to become the top networking system, and spendings on SD-WAN products could reach $1.3 billion by the end of this year.

Communications service providers, including the Indian CSPs, are understandably gearing up and investing in solutions to deliver SD-WAN to their clients.

SD-WAN, an industry-neutral solution, plays a crucial role in optimizing the IP transport performance by application-aware routing, link failovers, and securing the communication using IPSEC overlay.

Communications service providers, including the Indian CSPs, are understandably gearing up and investing in solutions to deliver SD-WAN to their clients. While doing so, it’s critical to address all the security concerns associated with SD-WAN implementations. We believe Infinity Labs is better-positioned to deliver these needs.

Our Infinxt Secure SD-WAN brings incomparable first-in-industry features and enterprise-class security through an inbuilt next-generation firewall (NGFW) powered by Palo Alto Networks. It offers ease-of-deployment. The Auto VPN configuration and the ZTP ensure ease-of-use.

V&D: Secure SD-WAN for multi-cloud is also in great demand. How is this solution important to ease workflow congestions and data management for CSPs?

RG: That’s true! More than 90% of all enterprises, including CSPs, now have a multi-cloud strategy in place. Leveraging different cloud environments brings its share of advantages and downsides.

The benefits range from better application resilience, performance, flexibility, agility, disaster recovery, cost savings, to global coverage, and avoiding vendor lock-in.

On the other hand, deployment complexities, inconsistent network performance, workflow congestions, and data management challenges are often faced while connecting workloads deployed on multiple clouds through the on-premises data-center WAN edge.

Secure SD-WAN for multi-cloud, a new approach, simplifies WAN infrastructure and addresses these difficulties. It establishes secure and high-performance connectivity between workloads on multiple clouds without increasing the complexity.

V&D: Could you share Infinity Labs’ India future plans in terms of business expansion, financial resource planning, human resource expansion, and an outlook on new normal workspaces (physical + digital) and product/service launches?

RG: The last two quarters’ journey for most growth-oriented organizations may have been a less-than-smooth ride, but not without valuable learnings.

Adaptability is Infinity Labs’ strength, and it helped us embrace the changing outlooks on new-normal workspaces. The perimeter of every organization has expanded beyond its traditional-physical-office and reached employees’ residences. The work-from-home arrangements are here to stay, and we are fast-building our capabilities to manage the growing digital transformation demands effectively. We believe cloud and on-premise strategies will coexist. Preparing network capabilities for future enterprises and SD-WAN will continue to feature amongst our top priorities.

We believe cloud and on-premise strategies will coexist. Preparing network capabilities for future enterprises and SD-WAN will continue to feature amongst our top priorities.

We see positive traction across industries. Relying on its numerous benefits, security features, USP, and competitive pricing, we are confident that Infinxt Secure SD-WAN will prove to be a worthwhile investment for organizations across BFSI, NBFC, Retail, IT/ITES, Manufacturing, Service consultancy, and other industries.

Our three-year growth plan targets a high single-digit market share over the next year, and we are implementing a comprehensive GTM strategy for successfully achieving it. We first plan to launch our solutions in BFSI, Retail, FMCG, Govt, Public, and Defence segments.

Providing market-leading services in the spheres of automation, network design, IT security, cloud computing, virtualization, and unique products such as INFIWORX will remain a constant. .

Overall, we at Infinity Labs would like to maintain our recognition as a market leader in the IT domain admired for providing futuristic IT services with cutting-edge technology.

(Anusha Ashwin: anushaa@cybermedia.co.in)

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