Emtel and NEC XON deploy Mauritius’ biggest SD-WAN

15 Feb, 2021
Anthony Laing, GM of Networking at NEC XON

Emtel, the Telecom operator in Mauritius, has partnered with NEC XON to deploy the biggest SD-WAN in the country, which has reduced the corporate customer’s connectivity costs by between 30% to 40%, together with the provision of a secured network.

The SD-WAN serves around 70 sites including a data centre and the head office.

“The customer previously had a private WAN with dedicated links between each site. This SD WAN solution provides them with additional services and ultimately improves the customer experience,” says Prakash Bheekhoo, the Director of Emtel Business. “The customer now has a high-performance WAN that uses commonly available Internet links. They were able to replace more costly MPLS links, gain integrated end-to-end security, and also get better visibility into the network as well as the ability to serve additional applications within their environment.”

Anthony Laing, GM of Networking at NEC XON

Enterprises typically have been using MPLS to get reliable and secure Internet connectivity in the branch environment. But reliable MPLS uses relatively expensive dedicated connectivity. SD-WAN provides security and reliability while using less expensive, commoditised broadband connectivity.

NEC XON transferred design, architecture, deployment and SD-WAN management skills to Emtel during the project, enabling the business to continue delivering the highest calibre, fully managed SD-WAN deployments throughout Mauritius. This rollout, which began in August 2020 and was completed in November, was delivered despite the disruptions of the global pandemic.

“South Africa went into hard lockdown in March so our engineers used the time to interact with our customer, Emtel, via virtual meetings to design, architect, and script the solution,” says Anthony Laing, GM of Networking at NEC XON. “Being able to automate the deployment via standardised scripting and configuration deployment tools is a major benefit of virtualised network deployments that really speeds up delivery. This shows that technology has evolved, enabling remote provision of solutions during the pandemic.”

“NEC XON’s expertise was instrumental in architecting and deploying the initial solution,” says Bheekhoo. “We have delivered several SD-WAN deployments in Mauritius on our own, but this is by far the largest. Collaborating with NEC XON, and due to the nature of SD-WAN being inherently less complex than other technologies, we were able to transfer skills to our own team.”

“Emtel is a long-standing customer,” says Laing. “They knew our capabilities and, having completed several other large SD-WAN deployments in Africa based on proven technology, were 100% confident that the solution would meet the needs of their customer and others going forward.”

NEC XON and Emtel engineers established a laboratory to test the solution architecture prior to deployment. They created a zero-touch deployment solution that speeds up deployment and provides operational consistency. The same platform enables rapid, automated updates and changes the customer may want in the future.

“The way NEC XON architected the solution, our customer can add features and functionality at any point,” says Bheekhoo. “Today they use secure SD-WAN branch services with an end-to-end security fabric with mail and security embedded in a single box but they get the ultimate flexibility because they can enable any virtual services that they may want.”

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