Orange Business Services touts internet offload service

Orange Business Services (OBS) claims business applications can excel on VPNs by pushing non-critical applications onto local ISP networks

Multinational companies are spending large sums on corporate virtual private networks (VPNs) to make their business-critical applications secure and available, but still using them for more mundane tasks, such as browsing the web or checking e-mails.

Orange Business Services (OBS) claims separating these types of applications into the critical and non-critical could ensure expensive VPNs are optimised, whilst still enabling internet access for other tasks.

Speaking to Computer Weekly, Andrew McFadzen, head of global marketing for network solutions at OBS, revealed the company was working on a hardware system to install behind a router to enable business applications – such as SAP or Oracle – to run over a corporate VPN; while other traffic – such as requests for a YouTube video or Google searches – will revert to the local ISP network.

“What this will be is an internet offload service,” he said. “The route will be based on the application via a box deployed at the customer site.

“Obviously this relies on local connections and for multinationals with bases in Africa, Asia Pacific or more exotic locations, the local ISP might not be optimal. 

"But we can bring it back to take traffic over a regional gateway instead. Either way, this creates a hybrid network for business apps to be routed over a VPN and others to go over a local ISP.”

At a time when budgets are still tight, the price of the system must be taken into consideration, but McFadzen said the cost of deploying an additional hardware product, added to the monthly charge customers already pay in contracts, spread over three to five years, will not look significant.

“At the moment there aren’t any software-only versions of this type of service,” he added. “We have looked at different vendors and there are a lot looking at getting into network optimisation, but what we see at the moment is all hardware.

“I think it will come in the future though.”

Installing the system will just be part of the process for new customers who opt in to OBS’s set-up, but it could also be retrospectively fitted with little downtime.

“Fitting it will only lead to a minute or two of downtime, but this is also where our services team becomes involved – to work out a policy and decide which apps are critical and which are not,” added McFadzen.

The technology is only at an early stage as alpha and beta tests are carried out with a select number of customers in Europe and further afield – although none in the UK.

“When making a product ready for launch, there are quite a few things you need to do, such as making it compatible with internal IT, our billing department and services,” said McFadzen.

“However, our provisional roadmap is to have it ready for market by the end of the first quarter of next year.”

Read more on Network routing and switching

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