BT launches cloud generation of SD-WANs based on VMware

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The operator said the new services are more flexible and optimise networks for cloud services. Separately, it announced investment in AI.

The first of the services is based on VMware, is available to customers globally and is in live deployment.

The rationale is that while older generations of wide area networking need dedicated, proprietary vendor hardware at each customer site. The new managed service runs on generic hardware that can support a variety of software-based networking solutions from different vendors.

Choice and security

There are almost 70 SD-WAN solutions on the market, so BT is offering the services of consultants to help customers figure out the best one for them and advise on security. Apparently there is a range of options to meet customers’ security policies.

The service can be managed or co-managed remotely by BT on its new digital service platform. This gives customers a single view of their entire network and a choice of management controls, according to the operator.

AI investment

Wireless communications Vilicom, has been awarded a grant alongside BT Labs and Bristol and Loughborough Universities for research into 5G and AI.

The research and development initiative will be led by Innovate UK, under the Celtic Next international framework as part of the Artificial Intelligence-enabled Massive Multiple-input multiple-output (AIMM) project.

The objective of the AIMM is to consider potential applications of AI in the 5G RAN to improve the performance of Massive MIMO technology to contribute to the utlimate goal of ubiquitous access.

Two aspects will be considered: a bottom-up approach optimising the radio interface, enabling novel antenna structures and deployment techniques, and a top-down approach utilising AI to improve management and optimise the RAN at a system level.

New data structures

Vilicom, a mobile communications system integrator, will work on the definition of business and technology use cases. Specifically, it will focus on using AI to create cognitive 5G networks running Massive MIMO technology that automatically adapt to traffic patterns, user behaviour and external factors.

Vilicom's data scientists will develop data structures, as work on  integration and development of AI algorithms for descriptive, prescriptive analysis of network operational and user quality of experience (QoE) data to support decision-making in planning network expansion and optimisation actions.
 
Adrian Sharples, BT’s Head of Wireless and Mobile Research, said, “We believe the innovative use of network performance data to enhance capacity and, increasingly, differentiate between services offered on the radio network will provide new benefits to customers.”