“Nokia is innovating on-premise and cloud-managed SD-WAN solutions”

Spotlight on Enterprise Innovations | Disruptive Telecoms

As a global vendor with strong enterprise focus, Nokia is enabling a lot of innovative solutions in order to tackle the diverse challenges facing industrial and government customers. The company is offering its innovative on-premise as well as cloud-managed SD-WAN solutions ideally suited for various enterprise verticals.

Sandeep Sehgal, Head Enterprise Business, Nokia India interacts with Zia Askari from TelecomDrive.com about how Nokia is spearheading its effort in the enterprise space.

What are the key priorities for Nokia Enterprise today?

The global pandemic demonstrated the need for connectivity and digitalization to bring more resilience to industrial operational models.

We’ve seen an acceleration amongst governments pushing harder on broadband-centric initiatives and physical-process-heavy, asset-intensive enterprises who are looking to accelerate their digitalization strategies to capture the benefits of agility, productivity and to ensure business continuity during the pandemic – or any other situation.

There is a great opportunity for telecom technologies to help these industries along their digital journey. Expanding our enterprise business and working with Service Providers as a channel partner to enterprises for solutions like private wireless solutions and SD-WAN managed services is a key priority for Nokia.

How has the ongoing pandemic situation affected the technology landscape for Enterprise today? And how is this opening up opportunities for Nokia?

The pandemic tested all organizations’ ability to cope with stress to the system. Organizations that were well into their digital transformation journeys were better equipped to cope with the challenges the pandemic presented. Therefore, companies that lagged in their digital transformation will move quickly to catch up and digitalize their operations.

To ensure the business continuity goals mentioned earlier, and deliver on productivity, efficiency, and agility, Enterprises need to accelerate the adoption of more integrated solutions across a greater range of users, technologies and locations in both the IT and OT space.

For example, hybrid cloud applications, home-based employees, high-performance Industrial IoT connectivity solutions for Industry 4.0 and fixed and mobile business-grade broadband supplementing traditional MPLS connections.

As more employees (but not all) return to traditional offices, sales teams return to being on the road, and government offices move more functions online, the emphasis will shift again so flexible solutions win over ‘one size fits all’ approaches.  The same is the case for government networks where broadband holds the key to driving economic development to bridge the digital divide.

Forging deeper connectivity within communities, supply chains, factories, utilities, airports and railways, will unlock massive potential for service providers as we partner with them to solve digitalization challenges for these industries and government.

User and network security is increasingly important in all angles of this. All of these are fundamental elements of Nokia’s solutions for industries and the way we partner with service providers to deliver managed services.

What are some of the technology-led challenges that an enterprise is facing today? How can Nokia help solve these challenges?

There can be many challenges depending on the industry and their unique objectives.  You can’t expect a railway network to have the same needs as a manufacturing plant, or a public school to have the same challenges as a windfarm. Maneuvering or accessing the right ecosystem of partners in many cases is key.

A vendor with a strong enterprise focus needs to be working across the broad ecosystem to tackle the diverse challenges facing industrial and government customers.  Nokia has deep in-house industry-focused experts who understanding the business challenges and work with specialist industrial partners and service providers to develop and build the best approach for the unique needs of the industry they approach.

Another key challenge facing enterprises is security and safety. A recent analysis from Nokia Deepfield shows more than a 100% increase in daily DDoS peak traffic between January 2020 and May 2021 – making enhanced cybersecurity perhaps the leading priority for 2021. We’ve seen much news recently on IT environments forcing OT network closures.

Like the Colonial pipeline case in the US for example where a single IT /VPN password leak led to the massive shutdown of the pipeline to secure the OT side of the operation.  Securing the much larger enterprise perimeter that results from hosting applications in public cloud and providing access to employees and partners from remote connections remains a challenge for many organizations.

From day 1, Nokia’s SD-WAN solutions have been designed and developed specifically with this in mind – connecting anyone and anything to any application, anywhere – all with centralized policy control to ensure a consistent security approach and a reliable, uniform user experience.

Another major challenge is the engineering and operational skills to deploy and operate large, complex, secure networks. Nokia is helping with this by building and operating cloud-managed services such as Nokia Digital Automation Cloud and Nokia Cloud-managed SD-WAN that service providers can put their brand on and integrate with other solutions to deliver the combination that meets each enterprise’s unique needs across any market segment.

The business of sustainability is also one of business continuity.   It is not just an environmental imperative, it is an industrial imperative – a financial imperative. Protecting and conserving finite resources, finding new ways to do business, or shifting business models – while at the same time “doing no harm” is fundamental to the Industry 4.0 business financial equation.

Working with carbon neutral, goal-oriented businesses is key. Ignoring this comes at too high a cost for industries and puts their future existence into question. The path to sustainability in part can be addressed with digitalization and automation to help businesses shift and pivot to new business models and get up to speed faster and in a more digitalized manner.

Europe-based Equinor is an international energy company with a growing wind and renewables business and impressive sustainability targets. It is working with Nokia to deliver the secure, smart, offshore wireless digital fabric that Equinor can use to support its communication and maintenance activities and safety objectives for its offshore windfarms in the UK.

How do you look at accelerated deployment of SD-WAN within the enterprise segment as an opportunity. How is Nokia enabling innovation in this space?

Nokia is innovating both on-premise and cloud-managed SD-WAN solutions that allow service providers and VARs/SIs to meet the needs of all sizes of enterprise customer. Our open architecture, which leverages x86 based CPE hardware, allows integration with 3rd party security and other functions and on-ramps to all the major cloud an SaaS solutions.

SASE is another fast emerging trend that is largely seen as the future of cloud security for enterprise. What is Nokia doing in this space?

SASE is really a collection of component functions that include NGFW (Next-gen Firewall), CASB (Cloud Access Security Broker), SWG (Secure Web Gateway), ZTNA (Zero Trust Network Access) and many others.

Nokia’s approach to SASE is oriented around three fundamental enterprise requirements – (1) PREVENT risks and attacks; (2) DETECT threats, anomalies and attacks; and (3) RESPOND with appropriate action when something is detected. Our SD-WAN solutions have embedded NGFW, URL filtering, IPS/IDS and other security capabilities and can be combined with 3rd party security functions deployed either as CPE-hosted VNFs or in the cloud (see diagram below). We are also investing in ML/AI technologies to automate the response to security threats and adapt to changing baseline conditions and behavioral anomalies over time.

SASE Architecture

The figure shows SASE as a framework of largely cloud-oriented network and security components; nothing strictly limits what can and cannot be deployed in a SASE architecture, which makes it highly extendable.

Nokia SASE Solution Framework