Sue Graham Johnston, VP, General Manager, Juniper Networks

Connecting African & Middle Eastern Communities with Secure, Reliable SD-WAN | Juniper Global Summit

Global Summit 2021 SD-WAN
Sue Graham Johnston Headshot
Side-by-side photos showing Sue Graham Johnston from Juniper Networks (on the left) who will interview Marisa Trisolino, CEO of CMC Networks (on the right) about bringing reliable SD-WAN to Africa.

Bringing reliable SD-WAN to Africa and beyond.

CMC Networks, a global service provider focused in Africa and the Middle East, partnered with Juniper to improve service quality and customer experience with the move to advanced, service-centric routing. With the Juniper Session Smart Router, CMC is better able to meet its service-level commitments across a vast network that spans 100 points of presence.

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You’ll learn

  • The challenges of providing connectivity in geographically complex regions

  • When Internet and data traffic in Africa is expected to surpass Europe and the U.S.

  • How Juniper’s Session Smart Router helped CMC improve network connectivity, performance, and reliability

Who is this for?

Business Leaders Network Professionals


Sue Graham Johnston Headshot
Sue Graham Johnston
VP, General Manager, Juniper Networks

Guest speakers

Marisa Trisolino Headshot
Marisa Trisolino
CEO of CMC Networks


00:07 Welcome everyone.

00:08 My name is Sue Graham Johnston and I'm VP

00:11 and general manager at Juniper Networks.

00:14 Joining me today is Marisa Trisolino, who is CEO of CMC Networks.

00:20 Marisa, welcome. And thank you for joining me today.

00:25 Hi Sue.

00:26 Thank you for having me.

00:27 Great seeing you again.

00:29 Always fun to see you and great to have an opportunity to

00:32 talk about all the exciting things we've been doing together.

00:36 So Juniper, through 128 Technology and CMC Networks

00:41 have a strong partnership and we're delivering an innovative

00:44 SD-WAN solution to CMC’s multinational customers.

00:49 Marisa, I'm not sure how many of our

00:52 viewers are going to be familiar with CMC Networks.

00:54 So maybe give us some background and help the audience understand

00:58 what led you to select 128 Technology as your partner.

01:03 Okay.

01:03 Thank you, Sue. That's a great question.

01:05 And you know, it is a good place to start to share

01:09 who we are and what we do, right?

01:11 So CMC Networks

01:13 is a global service provider.

01:15 We've been in the industry for 30 years.

01:18 Our strategic focus is predominantly on African and Middle East,

01:23 where we service in Africa

01:24 alone, 51 countries and 13 countries in the Middle East.

01:28 And you can look at our customer biases.

01:31 It's a mixed bag.

01:32 It includes multinationals governments,

01:35 non-profit organizations, Tier-one providers.

01:39 And we really help our customers extend their Ethernet,

01:42 their MPLS, their Internet capabilities seamlessly across the MEA region.

01:49 And to add just another point, our core network is SDN-enabled,

01:54 and it connects all 51 countries to regional DCS,

01:59 carrier providers and global internet points.

02:03 But you know, having said that, I think it's an interesting fun fact.

02:09 Africa and the Middle East has complex terrain in geographies.

02:15 And that's really where CMC Networks

02:17 stands tall compared to our competitors.

02:20 We have a unique ability to not only provide connectivity

02:24 and services in these remote and challenging locations,

02:27 but we really strive to deliver with the highest level

02:30 of reliability and latency status, right?

02:35 And understanding the needs of SD-WAN,

02:39 African market is critical.

02:41 And, understanding how

02:44 we can deliver on the challenged Africa infrastructure,

02:51 is really where our strengths come from

02:54 and finding the perfect SDN partner,

02:57 which is 128 Technology and Juniper, Right?

03:01 And we have gone back many years

03:03 in this fantastic journey, the 128 Technology and Juniper.

03:09 As you said, we've been in the business for many years.

03:14 But it took us a long time to find the right SDN player.

03:17 And Geoff Dornan, our CTO, really evaluated several SDN players.

03:24 And we were looking for one particular player

03:26 that was as innovative, as feisty,

03:29 as challenging as CMC,

03:32 as our way of looking and interacting in the market.

03:39 And we came across yourselves, Sue, with your leadership

03:43 and Andy, and Pat and the rest of the 128 Technology.

03:47 We came across a fantastic SDN partner like yourselves.

03:54 My motto that I always say, when I go look for a partner to work with,

03:59 we don't want a board that sits across the table from us.

04:01 We're looking for a partner that sits next to us,

04:04 and we're looking into the same direction.

04:06 And we heavily invested in our C-RAN platform,

04:09 which is CMC’s rapid adaptive network, SD platform.

04:14 And yourselves and 128 Technology

04:18 and Juniper has been a key building block in our success story.

04:23 Yeah.

04:23 Thanks, Marisa. I mean, so many great threads to pull on

04:27 in your response, but maybe let's start with,

04:30 the high standards that your customers have.

04:34 Because I think that's part of what makes the joint solution,

04:38 so exceptional.

04:40 So can you talk a little bit about

04:42 what some of these multinationals expect

04:45 and how that compares to kind of what's natively available in Africa?

04:50 And then we can turn to,

04:52 how did we collectively solve for that challenge?

04:56 Okay, well, you know, any customer,

05:02 I think you don't necessarily have to be an African and Middle East,

05:05 but any customer is looking for the cheapest solution,

05:09 the most reliable solution and the best latency that you can find.

05:15 If you combine that, and you combine the tremendous growth that

05:23 everybody's experiencing on the data boost,

05:27 on the internet requirements that are coming out,

05:30 and then you look at where CMC is based

05:32 and what we are servicing in Africa and the Middle East,

05:36 and then you bring in the tremendous support from 128 Technology and Juniper.

05:41 And you, you bring that all together. You have a perfect solution.

05:45 However, let me just take a step back and say,

05:48 and explain a little bit about the scope and scale of

05:52 how big the African continent is, and the Middle East.

05:58 So you're looking at it at a continent.

06:01 That's got about 1.3 billion people.

06:03 There are 54 distinct countries in Africa alone,

06:07 and CMC services, 51 of them, right?

06:10 If you look at, the US can comfortably fit in Africa at least three times.

06:16 So it is a very, very large geography.

06:20 And there's an abundance of resource and wealth going on in Africa.

06:24 But having said that the internet and data traffic is catching up,

06:33 it's catching up very, very fast.

06:35 And it's said that, I think 2027,

06:40 the traffic in Africa will outgrow the Europe and the US,

06:45 so we've got so many supplement cables coming out, and

06:49 local content that there's going to be an explosion.

06:54 Now, when you look at the scale and the size of Africa,

06:57 and you look at the growing traffic,

06:59 and you see how long does WAN links are,

07:02 then you can very, very easily understand the complexities.

07:07 How the distance can impact the performance

07:10 and reliability of the connectivity.

07:13 And this is especially true outside of Metro areas of main cities.

07:17 So there are these non-urban areas that are faced

07:20 with extremely high cost and low quality links.

07:22 And in most cases, internet is the most feasible option.

07:25 And then that's where Juniper 128 Technology comes in

07:29 and helps resolve this very, very complex situation.

07:33 Absolutely. And you and I have shared a lot of stories.

07:37 I mean, first of all, I always loved working with you

07:40 because I get to put another pin in the map.

07:42 Every time we go into a different country together.

07:46 Let's talk about, what are some of the attributes of

07:50 Session Smart Routing that differentiate Juniper's solution

07:55 from all the other SD-WAN solutions in the marketplace?

08:00 Well, SD-WAN has been around for a very, very long time,

08:07 but what does every SD-WAN player partner give? Any customer,

08:13 it gives speed and power on the network.

08:15 And I think the question that we need to really ask here is,

08:19 what is the level of intelligence?

08:21 Does your SD-WAN partner provide a level of intelligence?

08:25 Does SD-WAN partner provide the support,

08:28 the new requirements of critical business applications

08:31 and digital transformation strategies require.

08:34 And I think that

08:35 is what the big different range this year is for 128 Technology and Juniper.

08:40 It's you give CMC the level of intelligence and insight to a network

08:46 that has not been seen before, right?

08:49 And I just want to give a few attributes,

08:51 you know, this several but top three or four,

08:54 it is the intelligent secure vector routing.

08:57 This alone allows a network to identify the problem and

09:02 automatically decide to the best, most effective route possible.

09:07 And this supports the business application without any user intervention.

09:11 And this is just phenomenal.

09:14 Secondly, you don't require a VPN technology no longer, it's all tunneless.

09:18 And this technology in choosing of each session is secured providing

09:22 into any military grade security with the zero trust policy.

09:28 And going back to the tunneless technology,

09:32 this allows the pull bandwidth capacity

09:35 for the link to be used, there’s no deep it overhead.

09:38 And there's no loss in the available bandwidth for the application,

09:43 it just gives such a fantastic experience to the user.

09:48 So we've always joked about it, but there are no hidden additional features

09:53 in the license cost. The price includes all the features enabled by default.

09:58 This is a key differentiator for us.

10:01 Yeah, absolutely.

10:02 And I think from our perspective, helping people understand

10:07 the benefits of tunneless in challenging environments, like what you face,

10:11 delivering a pan African and pan Middle Eastern solution.

10:16 It's just a terrific demonstration of our capability and the session orientation,

10:23 which allows you to have these solutions for your customers

10:27 that truly differentiate the user's experience

10:31 in a way that no other technology can.

10:34 And what's been exciting to me recently are our conversations

10:38 about your aspirations for CMC Networks and how you're really

10:44 embracing AI and using that to differentiate your core offering.

10:51 I think people would find that very exciting.

10:53 Can you share your vision of what you're driving and where CMC is headed?

10:58 Oh, absolutely.

10:59 I'm very excited about this.

11:01 I mean, this is going to be a feature

11:03 and a new enhancement on the CMC C-RAN solution.

11:07 You know, we're talking about STEP, the Service and Topology Exchange Protocol.

11:11 This is going to revolutionize the entire network in Africa network.

11:16 And this is just a phenomenal

11:21 milestone for us.

11:22 It was a very exciting time.

11:24 And you know, Sue, with the tremendous work that you've done with the two teams

11:27 and the companies, it's really going to make, it's a game changer.

11:31 And I think the best way I can probably explain,

11:34 this AI STEP phenomena that's coming our way is to use an analogy,

11:40 and compare it to the Waze app.

11:42 Now it provides a similar function

11:44 to Waze in the real time world traffic management use case.

11:49 So just like Waze have the visibility and indicate

11:52 the least congested routes when it comes to vehicle traffic,

11:56 STEP can automatically select path based on least congestion,

12:01 shortest path, cost-effectiveness, and availability.

12:04 This is going to be a game changer in the SDN world.

12:07 And I get excited every time I speak about it, right?

12:10 This is going to enable our CMC C-RAN routers to dynamically learn connectivity

12:16 and service information within any network.

12:18 It's going to be so simple, so efficient and so reliable.

12:22 I think the benefits of STEP is highly beneficial to any of our customers,

12:28 and it's going to help our enterprises, spin up and down locations

12:34 for existing service bandwidth on roads, any new services

12:38 and remove or modify existing services.

12:42 I mean, the speed to market it's going to be reduced significantly.

12:48 I think just overall a very dynamic itself optimizing network,

12:53 which goes, it's going to enable our customers to get the network,

12:56 to do what the business needs and that's the importance.

13:01 Excellent.

13:02 I think with that, Marisa, we probably have time

13:05 for one more question before we wrap up here.

13:08 So let's go with the big picture and Africa, I mean,

13:11 you've talked about the explosive growth,

13:15 all of the investment that's coming into the continent,

13:18 the challenges of meeting that aspiration.

13:21 So what do you think is next for the industry?

13:23 What's next for the continent?

13:25 Leave us with kind of your big picture vision thoughts.

13:29 Well, I think the industry, the telco industry, everything,

13:33 it's moving at a pace just because of, I think,

13:37 the pandemic has accelerated everybody's thinking, right?

13:40 That everybody makes a joke that the best CTO is COVID,

13:43 because you just had to really move fast.

13:47 In generally speaking, I think everybody is just the key focus here

13:51 is on borderless edge for the enterprise space.

13:54 SD-WAN and SASE merging to delivery on a curbed native consumption of

13:59 service in a very secure manner,

14:01 no matter where the end user connects from.

14:04 The other big talk of the town is LEO constellations, right?

14:09 African, I can explain, you can fit Western Europe,

14:16 China, India, Japan, US into the continent of Africa.

14:20 It's so big.

14:21 So that LEO constellation for satellite connectivity

14:25 and how we are going to play with an underlay connectivity to

14:29 complement our C-RAN evolution platform

14:32 and deliver an experience based network

14:34 from any remote possible location on this wonderful, large African continent.

14:39 That's our vision.

14:40 We're so pleased to be your partner in delivering

14:44 that Experience-First network,

14:46 and you really take advantage of our core innovation, the reliability,

14:52 the security, the low latency, low overhead.

14:55 It will all of the attributes that make us a terrific partnership.

14:59 So with that,

15:01 I'm just extremely grateful for the time that you've spent with us today.

15:04 It's been exciting to hear about what you've done

15:08 and where you see the industry headed.

15:10 So thanks again for your time.

15:12 Thank you, Sue.

15:13 Thank you for having me and hope to see you in person one of these days.

15:16 Absolutely.

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