BT announces new software-defined network capability for the age of the cloud


BT today announced the global launch of BT Connect Intelligence IWAN, an innovative managed service that enables organisations to automatically route and optimise network traffic and gain visibility of applications performance without spending more on bandwidth.

BT Connect Intelligence IWAN to be deployed by Walgreens Boots Alliance

BT today announced the global launch of BT Connect Intelligence IWAN, an innovative managed service that enables organisations to automatically route and optimise network traffic and gain visibility of applications performance without spending more on bandwidth. BT Connect Intelligence IWAN integrates the Cisco Intelligent WAN (IWAN) solution into the BT Connect portfolio of network services.

The new launch builds on BT’s existing intelligent network capabilities by using a hybrid environment and managed Software Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) technology. It brings new options to reduce the cost of customers’ networks whilst securing the performance of applications.

The services offered as part of Connect Intelligence IWAN also help customers reap the business benefits of the ‘Cloud of Clouds’[1] by taking advantage of broader virtualised functions such as application performance management and security.

Walgreens Boots Alliance’s businesses in the UK and in around 20 other countries are set to be some of the first BT Connect Intelligence IWAN customers, taking advantage of the service’s reach and scalability to support their international operations.

The first version of Connect Intelligence IWAN will bring the following benefits to BT customers:

  • Virtual Private Network (VPN) capabilities across globally dispersed sites and different transport technologies. This enables organisations to reduce costs by securely interconnecting remote sites over hybrid network options, such as MPLS VPNs, private and public internet, and mobile, and to transfer information using powerful encryption technology;
  • Applications are routed across the best path in the customer’s hybrid network, based on real-time network performance;
  • Faster performance for applications, which will improve productivity and user experience. It will also identify underperforming business processes. This includes acceleration of web based traffic such as online catalogues shown to customers in retail stores, or access to employee training videos;
  • Enhanced application visibility and analytics, available via centralised, user friendly reporting, which gives customers deep insight into their application and network performance. This will also allow BT to enhance its monitoring and incident management service to customers.

    In addition, BT offers customers a fully managed IWAN service which includes comprehensive design, set-up and configuration. It also includes monthly reports from an Application Specialist on how their network and applications are performing, with recommendations on how to improve performance.

BT sees IWAN as one of the key stepping stones for customers when transitioning to future Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) and SDN capabilities.BT is also working to provide customers with a comprehensive self-service capability to control their SD-WAN via BT’s My Account portal.

Keith Langridge, vice president of network services, BT Global Services said: “BT has been leading the research into emerging virtualisation technologies from the beginning. For years, we have also been adding ‘intelligence’ to the network services we provide to our customers. NFV and SDN are part of that drive, and aim at making those services more dynamic and automated. They pave the way for a new generation of services that are quicker and easier to set up and change. BT Connect Intelligence IWAN leverages the Cisco IWAN solution to bring an important new building block in that virtualisation effort. It will help our customers all over the world deal much more effectively with ever increasing bandwidth and traffic optimisation demands, allowing customers to network like never before.”

Joel Stradling, Research Director, Business Network & IT Services, Current Analysis, said: “The integration of Cisco IWAN into BT Global Services' Connect range advances the service provider's SD-WAN message. BT can leverage new management features built into Cisco IWAN that blend compelling functions, such as dynamic traffic routing on hybrid VPNs, intelligent path control, agility in layering on virtualized network functions, and cost-savings on Internet bandwidth. Offering Cisco IWAN globally gives BT a head start over its rivals.”

BT and Cisco have been marketing and selling [2] the managed solution to their respective enterprise customer bases in the UK, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa and Latin America since December 2015. Customers with the right hardware will be able to enjoy a free 90-day trial of Connect Intelligence IWAN’s application visibility service in the near future.


Note for Editors

Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) allows services, such as routing and firewalling, to be deployed as software modules that run on commercial off-the-shelf hardware. As a consequence, the virtualised network functions are managed in common with IT management processes as orchestrated remote software installations, decoupled from hardware upgrades.

Software Defined Network (SDN) is distinct from NFV but complementary. SDN is about remote control and management of network elements by more powerful centralised software than can be envisaged on each distributed element. The idea is to allow richer policy control both by the network operator and potentially by customer applications.


[1] BT’s Cloud of Clouds vision is about empowering customers, regardless of where they are based, to connect easily and securely to the applications and data they need, regardless of where they are hosted. Click here for more information on the Cloud of Clouds.

[2] New and innovative pricing models are being worked on by BT and Cisco. They will become available later this year.