The Next Generation Enterprise Network Alliance (ngena) – founded by CenturyLink, Deutsche Telekom, Reliance Jio and SK Telecom – launched at Mobile World Congress 2016. Managing Director Marcus Hacke gives us a progress report It’s a year since ngena was established; remind us why it was set up and what it plans to do?

Marcus Hacke: The concept of ngena finds its foundation in the evolving needs of multinational enterprises, which are looking for global network services that are secure, high-quality, rapidly deployable and easy to manage.

As of today, these requirements are impossible to meet with traditional solutions - even for the largest telcos.

In order to expand such capabilities, ngena brings together carriers and networks from around the globe into an alliance and provides globally standardised VPN services to alliance partners for resale to enterprises.

Set up as an independent company, ngena operates a global platform that interconnects carrier networks and which architecture is based on SDN-technology as well as virtualisation technologies with network functions virtualisation (NFV).

What has been achieved in the first 12 months?

More than 10 further carriers have joined the alliance, including Altice, Inmarsat, Neutrona, PCCW Global and Telstra.

Now, the alliance covers North and South America, large portions of Europe and several regions of Asia.

The entire IT stack, including the production platform, is nearly completed and end-to-end testing has started successfully.

The first “productive” hub (which means, the first network backbone node) is already in place in Frankfurt. 

You mention Altice, but other European telcos have not signed up. Why?

At this point in time, we are able to cover up to further 10 European countries with partners that have signed MoUs but aren’t publicly announced yet.

In addition, we are close to cover further two important markets in Europe via additional partners to join the alliance soon.

What exact services will be offered at launch and when will this be?

The start of the third quarter 2017 will see ngena’s first product launch: a hybrid VPN with Internet- and Ethernet-based connections to customer locations and already a quite broad set of value added services, especially security services and Internet breakout.

More access models, value-added services and broader coverage of countries will be rolled out over time.

Starting in mid-2018, our partners will be able to tap into the full product catalogue: from low-cost links for point-of-sale locations to fully redundant Ethernet-based connections for the likes of data centers or large production sites.

We will be able to implement the ngena portfolio in much shorter cycles than ever before thanks to agile development and production methods.

What will the impact be on T-Systems and the enterprise arms of the other telcos that have signed up?

Leveraging the ngena platform all B2B units of alliance partners, like T-Systems, can provide consistent global network services to their customers that are secure, high-quality, rapidly deployable and easy to manage.

This provides a great opportunity for new business potential as well as for ensuring high customer satisfaction.

ngena claims to use a “sharing economy” business model. How does this work in practice?

The extensive networks of all alliance partners will be “shared” and utilised within the alliance to finally provide true global coverage for all partners without the need to invest into such asset-heavy infrastructure themselves.

Providing regional network connectivity to the alliance and leveraging the global service platform of ngena, every alliance partner can offer consistent services globally to his business customers.

By sharing the network assets, each alliance partner can therefore provide services that go far beyond its own capabilities.

Our motto is “Global reach and local care”.

Not only will customers benefit from an excellent global coverage but also from deep in-country knowledge and cultural fit provided by the alliance partners in their respective geographies.

Last but not least, our alliance partners bring in their experienced and strong sales organisations.

Thousands of sales people around the globe will sell ngena-based services.

This is a huge advantage of ngena compared with other SD-WAN solutions and providers in the market today.

You have two technology partners on board currently – are you looking for more and if so what types of companies?

Our core technology partners Cisco and Comarch are deeply integrated into the development and implementation of the global platform and deploying more than 100 experts and developers to support ngena.

We also started to cooperate with further technology partners which are not yet announced.

They will provide complementary capabilities, especially in the areas of next generation automation through AI, performance optimisation for connectivity over public internet, data center infrastructure and cloud connectivity as well as operational support.

With the addition of leading technology partners in these areas ngena will strengthen the technology ecosystem further.

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