MetTel Labs Deploys VMware SD-WAN over Starlink

MetTel announces today that its Customer Innovation Labs, the research and development unit of MetTel, has deployed its software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) service using the VMware SD-WAN solution over SpaceX’s Starlink satellite service.

These technologies outpace the growth of the overall IT market which Gartner predicts at 5.1 percent year-over-year in 2023. According to the 2022 Gartner Magic Quadrant for SD-WAN report, “The SD-WAN market is forecast to generate a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14 percent in end-user spending from 2020 through 2026.”

Starlink’s service has expanded with more than 3,000 satellites in orbit and more than 500,000 customers since 2019, according to research firm Ookla, with an estimated 500 percent growth in supporting terminals since 2021.

Led by MetTel Chief Technology Officer Ed Fox, MetTel Labs strives to innovate, test and prove new technologies, services and best practices with enterprise customers. In the case of Starlink, MetTel collaborated with multiple enterprise clients to deploy SD-WAN technology over the satellite network and bring high bandwidth communications to remote locations that would otherwise lack internet access. Among the active use cases are a large government agency and a leader in the environmental management industry.

“Deployment of earth-based SD-WAN over Starlink will bring business-grade connectivity and network management to every remote location where it’s needed for our clients,” said Fox. “MetTel is thrilled to upgrade the quality of space-based communication while extending the reach of our SD-WAN network to any location worldwide.”

As an access technology, satellite communication has always been a challenge as signals must travel up to space and back down to earth, introducing latency and eroding performance. Many satellite communication providers use packet manipulation like queuing to provide a better consumer experience, but when using a business-oriented overlay technology like SD-WAN the packet manipulation can inhibit the performance of the network. Starlink’s low-earth orbit system provides low latency, high bandwidth transmissions without the heavy processing of traditional satellites, enabling the MetTel Labs team to integrate space-based access paths into its existing terrestrial SD-WAN networks.

“The promise of space-based communication is limitless,” said Craig Connors, vice president and general manager of VMware’s SASE business. “By deploying SD-WAN over the Starlink satellite network, MetTel is bringing the benefits of VMware SD-WAN — cloud-delivered, resilient networking with embedded security, along with DMPO which will automatically remediate transient satellite link issues – to anywhere on earth, without the need for terrestrial networks.”

VMware SD-WAN and VMware SASE bring cloud-delivered networking, security, and AIOps together with compute to support secure, ubiquitous access to cloud and SaaS for branch and remote workers as well modern applications at the edge. VMware’s SD-WAN solution makes intelligent routing decisions based on network conditions and then steers traffic to the optimal network path to meet customers’ service level requirements and provide a better user experience for applications.

Working with VMware SASE and SD-WAN solutions, MetTel has built a global cloud network with 19 data centers and points of presence (PoPs) to deliver its secure networking services as a fully managed service.  A recognized leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Managed Network Services for 2020 and 2021, MetTel has engineered some of the largest commercial implementations of SD-WAN and cloud firewall in North America, each connecting thousands of locations with high performance and scalable bandwidth in many different verticals such as retail including the largest jewelry retailer in the world, automotive, and waste management.

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