Enel beyond the cloud: One of the world's largest network virtualisation projects

ROME – Accenture (NYSE: ACN), Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) and Sirti have worked together with Enel Group on one of the largest corporate telecommunications network virtualisation projects in the world, accelerating Enel’s digital transformation. Designed and developed in Italy, the program has led to a reduction in operating costs, significantly increasing the agility of Enel’s infrastructure. The network connects more than 1,000 sites on three continents and in over 10 countries (including Italy, Spain, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Russia, among others in North America).

The initiative is part Enel’s broader strategic program called Beyond Cloud Computing, in which the software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN), technology that optimises access to cloud applications and use of connectivity, and edge computing solutions merge to create a telecommunications architecture that helps to achieve operational excellence through the comprehensive digitization of processes.

“The Beyond Cloud Computing project is part of a digital transformation program launched in 2015 with a migration to the cloud. During the COVID-19 emergency, the virtualization of network equipment has allowed us to manage our infrastructure remotely, without the need to have personnel on site," said Carlo Bozzoli, who serves as head of Enel’s Global Digital Solutions.

The project is based on a lean virtual infrastructure that, in addition to private networks, also uses public networks. Until recently, this solution was considered hard to achieve, due to the company’s unwillingness to use public connectivity. This reluctance has now been overcome through the adoption of a secure dedicated virtual network, offering high quality service and reduced costs, precisely because it was built by integrating public and private infrastructure.

The program has enabled the introduction of architectures and technologies aimed at accelerating digitization through a public cloud. It showcases the group’s first step toward edge computing, which will reduce data processing latency, thus boosting the processing capacity distributed around the country.

This project has allowed Enel to significantly reduce go-to-market times and optimize cost efficiency, from the rationalization of systems. It has also cut operating costs by enabling the remote management of maintenance operations. Enel will also be able to integrate innovative technologies, such as the Internet of Things and augmented and virtual reality, into its network to facilitate the monitoring, management and maintenance of its assets located throughout Italy.

Proof of the new infrastructure’s potential and agility was provided during the response to the COVID-19 crisis, as Enel swiftly enabled its more than 37,000 employees to work remotely, allowing them to access corporate applications and collaborate securely.

The new infrastructure was built by Enel Global Digital Solutions, working in partnership with Accenture, Cisco and Sirti. Accenture supported the management of the transformation programme and implementation of the centralized infrastructure, with innovative features provided by Cisco’s Viptela SD-WAN technology. Cisco also contributed to the network’s overall design, while Sirti Digital Solutions supported the implementation of the distributed components across the new architecture throughout Italy and the migration of network services.

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