Brisbane-developed software powers new PCCW Global SD-WAN service

PCCW Global says the new service is the first of its kind from a Tier 1 carrier

PCCW Global, the international operating division of HKT (Hong Kong Telecom), has launched a global software-defined wide area network service (SD-WAN) using technology from recently acquired Console Connect, a US startup that conducted most of its R&D and software development in Brisbane.

PCCW says the new service, available in 150 countries, is the first of its kind from a Tier 1 carrier. It says the service, underpinned by its global IP network, provides its enterprise customers with on-demand access to major cloud service providers and to interconnect their own data centres, all configurable via easy-to-use console commands.

PCCW Global’s president of mobility and digital solutions, Ronnie Klingner, said the service — Console Connect — already provides access to AWS, Azure, and Alibaba. “By the third quarter this year, we aim to have all major cloud service providers on board as well as additional major SaaS providers,” she said.

Mike van den Bergh, PCCW Global’s chief marketing officer, told Computerworld at a NetEvents forum in San Jose that PCCW Global had bought the intellectual property and the team of Console Connect in late 2017 and was already offering the Console Connect service.

“We purchased the Console Connect team and the software in November 2017 and we are applying that to our global network. We are offering it initially to our major multinational customers now we will go out and connect to other customer of those data centres.

“We see a massive demand from our customers as things move to the cloud to be able to automate secure connections to the cloud, to turn up bandwidth on demand.

“They want fast direct connections to the cloud and the ability to provision secure private connections at the click of a mouse between any of our data centres.

He said PCCW presently had the service available in 60 data centres across 30 countries.

“We are very strong in Asia and one of the major providers of IP connectivity into China, and into Africa and the Middle East. We think the quality and extensiveness of our network will be one of the key differentiators.”

Paul Gampe, PCCW global CTO, and formerly CTO of Console Connect, told Computerworld that the service differed from the former Pacnet SD-WAN, acquired by Telstra.

“We have build a network that integrates with the existing network. From my understanding, Telstra has to deploy new infrastructure to expand Pacnet. It does not integrate with their existing network.

“We were able to overlay the Console Connect technology on our network over 100 PoPs connected in a matter of months. And we did not have to completely re-engineer the network.”

Prior to its acquisition by PCCW Console Connect was providing its SD-WAN services over the network of UK based global carrier IX Reach but with the acquisition of its intellectual property assets by PCCW Global, Console Connect sold all customers and global network and physical assets to IX Reach.

Gampe acknowledged that that those customers would have lost the SD-WAN functionality previously provided by Console Connect and declined to say how many had remained with IX Reach.

According to FAQs on the IX Reach website, posted at the time of the deal, all former Console Connect customers’ services would continue, but without access to the Console Connect console they would be unable to make any changes.

“You will need to speak to your account manager or raise a support ticket to make changes,” IX Reach said. “We aim to turn around changes within 24 hours of any request arriving so we do not expect most customers will lose any functionality.”

It added that longer term it was working to provide SDN functionality, but “Our immediate priority is to focus our efforts on bolstering the existing network, services and taking care of our customers.”

Qld government’s role

Trade & Investment Queensland (TIQ) says it assisted Console Connect to locate a handful of staff to Brisbane in February 2015. Then, following a meeting between then Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Console Connect founder Al Burgio at a June 2015 trade mission to San Francisco, the Department of State Development’s Industry Attraction team convinced Console Connect to locate its expanding global research and development (R&D) operations in Brisbane.

When it announced the move in December 2017, the Queensland Government said: “Console Connect emerged in 2011 as a start-up backed by big-name venture capital firms in California. … The company now has 120 employees split equally between locations in Australia, North America and the UK, with the global software development team based in Brisbane.”

It quoted chairman and CEO Jef Graham as saying: “Most software is 90 percent maintenance and 10 percent creative development. What we do in Brisbane is all creative development. That means we want A+ engineers.’ Brisbane’s talent pool and attractive location has delivered, and Console Connect in Australia has now hired 40 local, national and international A+ engineers to develop really creative talent and consequently produce really creative products.”

The author attended the NetEvents forum as a guest of NetEvents