NTT Innovation Institute, Inc.: Revolutionizing the Art of Innovation

Nina Simosko, CEO The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing”
—Albert Einstein.

The curiosity to evolve, improve, and create something novel that outshines everyone’s imagination differentiates a leader from the followers. As Nina Simosko, CEO at NTT Innovation Institute, Inc. (NTT i3) says, “There is beauty and mystery in the ‘a-ha moments’ that come about with the formation of initiating new ideas together.”

NTT i3 based in Palo Alto, CA has not only embraced this approach, but has redefined innovation by debunking the myth of a “Sole Genius.” NTT i3, the Silicon Valley-based innovation center for NTT Group, one of the world’s largest ICT companies, takes a full lifecycle approach to innovation, combining the best practices of open innovation research, applied R&D expertise, and agile product development.

Testament to NTT i3’s commitment to innovation is the NTT Customer Experience Center (CXC), an interactive meeting and briefing center located in the heart of Silicon Valley. It functions as a platform for senior level executives and engineers to learn about emerging technology and trends, engage in hands-on workshops, and initiate and build new relationships.

At CXC, visitors are presented with curated information and perspectives that challenge conventional ways of thinking and the status quo. “Coming to CXC is about being part of an open innovation movement,” says Simosko. “A day here is meant to fuel one’s imagination with thought-provoking frameworks that inspire how someone may see the world in a new way.”

Supporting Fast-Changing Business Conditions

Simosko, who has held leadership positions at Nike and SAP, is responsible for fostering strategic innovation at NTT i3. Under her leadership, the prestigious Silicon Valley-based innovation center builds enterprise software platforms that create an agile and scalable IT backbone for digitally-driven businesses.

One such revolutionary offering by NTT i3 that solves the age-old challenge of achieving network agility required by increasingly virtualized and dynamic applications is CloudWAN. “An intelligent service delivery fabric, CloudWAN enables the radical responsiveness and unparalleled efficiency required by organizations to grow their global footprint and accompanying IT infrastructure,” says Ichiro Fukuda, Chief Architect at NTT i3.

In the past, organizations deployed multiple network products to support various enterprise silos. With time, the need for unified and flexible networks that can link public and private clouds or on-premise infrastructures into a single seamless virtual network increased.
CloudWAN efficiently meets this demand and brings together various network nodes into a single unified virtual network. Organizations no longer have to manage multiple network devices as a single CloudWAN edge device; once plugged-in, it can easily configure itself and act as a virtual overlay over an enterprise’s existing infrastructures to create a single bandwidth pool.

There is beauty and mystery in the ‘a-ha moments’ that come about with the formation of initiating new ideas together.

CloudWAN simplifies the responsibilities of a network infrastructure manager by managing infrastructure, network functions, and applications from a single cloud-based console. In any enterprise, the network infrastructure manager is not only responsible for creating and managing virtual private networks, but also the various network functions that run on top of that base network. With CloudWAN, deployment of virtual network functions becomes easy as it comes with virtual firewall installed to the edge to offload Internet traffic from the enterprise WAN. Organizations can also dynamically and centrally manage policies in the cloud and automatically distribute these policies to the edge.

Clients of NTT i3F also get the option to deploy a virtual WAN optimization appliance to the edge to accelerate the traffic throughput. While a typical global enterprise uses physical WAN optimization devices behind the Customer Premise Equipment (CPE) devices, requiring physical wiring at the customer’s facility, CloudWAN helps clients avoid this installation cost by wiring multiple appliances virtually. In addition, CloudWAN’s open architecture is compatible to any network function that adheres to its open standards. This ensures that the changes an organization makes today are going to be much easier to maintain and upgrade even when vendors introduce new network function capabilities in the future.

However, for any enterprise, the factors driving business value are primarily its applications and services, on top of the network. Organizations often struggle to deploy applications to new business user groups as it requires shipping out multiple network devices, servers, and applications to the new location. Today, with CloudWAN, all applications are bundled into profiles that can be instantly deployed and delivered to user communities at the edges of the network. “CloudWAN makes the ‘Site-in-a-Box’ vision a reality,” says Fukuda. Once a CloudWAN edge device is installed, it calls home and configures itself, ensuring that the basic virtual private network of the client is up and running. The client can then create a template of network functions like firewalls and push them to this edge device from their headquarters. Subsequently, the network policies are pushed down from the CloudWAN management console to deliver productivity, manage access rights, bandwidth usage, and external Internet access.

In a nutshell, CloudWAN reduces an organization’s setup and maintenance costs, simplifies the complexity of adding new locations, and gives unprecedented control.
This ‘must-have’ solution is also unique for its exceptional flexibility— CloudWAN supports a broad range of deployment scenarios. According to Fukuda, “whether one is looking for ‘Site-in-a-Box’ solutions to standardize network topologies across different sites or seeking to streamline complex networks across their various business units, CloudWAN seamlessly unifies disparate network deployments.”

Commercializing Ideas into New Technologies

NTT i3’s strategic location in Silicon Valley allows the company to practically scale and commercialize ideas into new technologies and business practices. The company goes by the unique multivendor approach and is always on the hunt for the best technology and market leaders to partner with, for their R&D initiatives, continuing through platform development, and then into the marketplace for real-world pilots, deployment, and expansion.

"CloudWAN enables the radical responsiveness and unparalleled efficiency required by organizations to grow their global footprint and accompanying IT infrastructure"

On that line, NTT i3 has collaborated with Dimension Data’s Internet Solutions (IS), a pan-African telecoms service provider to public and private sector organizations, and Intel to deliver CloudWAN to global enterprise companies. By coupling NTT i3’s CloudWAN SD-WAN controller and ecosystem with Intel’s next-generation server chips on the platform, they can accelerate the path to agile deployment and management of software at the edge of an organization’s network. With CloudWAN, Intel provides the silicon for the high performing boxes essential to software defined networks.

The collaboration has already started showing results as in one instance, one of NTT i3’s Dimension Data customers had a client that opened a new office in China. It took the client three months to activate Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) connectivity to the office. This included putting in the last mile to the office which essentially meant that the productivity was very low until the connectivity was in place. NTT i3 demonstrated in a lab that with CloudWAN they can activate the connectivity to the office by using a Long-Term Evolution (LTE) connection whilst waiting for the MPLS or other connectivity. This means that from the new office, the client can have the same experience of connectivity into their virtual WAN, access to their resources, activate at least 80 percent of their services to be productive from the get go. Once the MPLS is available, it can then be connected in parallel and set as the primary connection. The customer was delighted to see that with this solution they will have an impressive ROI.

Success Defined by Creativity

“For NTT i3, my vision is that in two years, my colleagues and I will be able to say that we have contributed to changing the world in meaningful and measurable ways,” says Simosko. Having spent most of her career in major enterprise companies in Silicon Valley, Simosko is more convinced now than ever that success for a business comes from the creation of an environment where people and ideas come together with the intention of creating something truly remarkable. NTT i3 has in fact brought about a paradigm shift to the concept of innovation and is determined to continue in the same lane for the days to come.

NTT Innovation Institute, Inc

Palo Alto, CA

Nina Simosko, CEO and Ichiro Fukuda, Chief Architect

Identifying ambitious innovation ideas in the R&D lab and developing them into new technology platforms

NTT Innovation Institute, Inc