In the competitive market for network services, it’s getting harder for operators to stand out from the crowd. SoftBank, a Tier-1 service provider in Asia, is changing the game with automation, virtualization, and orchestration.

Today, enterprise customers can select and tailor network service offerings for precisely what they need from SoftBank’s SmartVPN Web portal. With end-to-end automation and orchestration powered by Cisco, new services can be up and running in minutes, on demand. Customers get more speed and flexibility. And Softbank is accelerating time-to-revenue and slashing operating costs.

Automating Services

Softbank has long given customers a broad menu of options for customized network services, with the ability to combine network equipment from multiple vendors to create exactly the solution they required. But the tradeoff for that flexibility was time.

Chaining together multiple network functions into a single service offering required teams of skilled engineers to manually configure and wire together hardware—often including devices from several vendors. The time from receiving a new service order to deploying the service was often days, and sometimes weeks. All of that manual effort translated to high operating costs for SoftBank, as well as missed revenues while waiting for the service to go live—both for the service provider and, potentially, its customers.

Now, SoftBank is virtualizing and automating network service provisioning. The operator virtualized key network resources and is using Cisco Virtual Topology System to create a more flexible, elastically scalable pool of network resources. And, instead of manually wiring and configuring each element of the service, they’re orchestrating the provisioning of multivendor network elements end-to-end with Cisco Network Services Orchestrator (NSO) enabled by Tail-f.


“With the Cisco solutions, it now takes just 10 minutes to provision equipment when a new service is deployed,” says Sadahiro Sato, senior vice president of ICT Innovation, Softbank. “That’s 86 percent less time than it used to take. And we expect to reduce operational expenses by 40 percent.”


Sadahiro Sato, SVP, ICT Innovation, Softbank

Supporting Hybrid Environments

While SoftBank is capitalizing on virtualization, they still use physical network devices for some services and will continue to do so for some time. Cisco NSO gives them the flexibility to automate provisioning and service chaining with physical equipment just as easily as virtualized resources.

“The required network environments are different for each customer, and from a performance and cost perspective, physical appliances still make sense in some areas,” says Sato. “With our hybrid environment, our customers have broader options to choose the best solution for their specific needs.”

Whether delivered via physical or virtualized network elements, SoftBank customers get exactly what they need, much faster, with a lot less effort.

“For our customers, the solution means that lead times are shorter and introducing new services is easier,” says Sato. “They are able to develop new services faster and reduce their TCO.”

Looking Ahead

SoftBank plans to continue expanding its use of virtualized network functions and SDN to make network services more scalable, simpler to manage, and easier for customers to consume. Company leaders believe that Cisco is an ideal partner to support them through this evolution.

“In the long term, we are moving towards a model of a highly reliable and autonomous network system with fully automated service deployment and healing,” says Sato. “We expect Cisco to continue developing cutting-edge NFV and SDN innovations to help us achieve our objectives.”

View SoftBank’s Virtualization and Network Automation Success Story

Want to know more about how SoftBank is capitalizing on virtualization and network automation? View their case study here.

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Find Out More

And to find out what Cisco Network Services Orchestrator can do for your business, visit www.cisco.com/go/nso


John Malzahn

Senior Marketing Manager

Service Provider Cloud Solutions