The concept of SD-WAN: With software-defined networking (SDN) gathering momentum and WAN requirements evolving rapidly, the concept of software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) is breathing new life into the otherwise mature WAN optimisation market, which has historically focused on optimising the performance of application traffic flows over a single link. SD-WAN, on the other hand, is about virtualising a variety of links, such as Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) and broadband Internet, and load balancing traffic across these links.
SD-WAN technology creates a more intelligent WAN through path control and traffic automation. IT teams are thus being freed from WAN management because SD-WAN injects intelligence into path selection. SD-WAN tools can monitor and re-route traffic configurations on an on going basis, depending on the state of the network. In fact, SD-WAN products are helping businesses address WAN performance challenges by running traffic over a hybrid of public broadband, private MPLS links, and other WAN links such as LTE. The end result should be an enterprise network with lower cost, reduced complexity, increased flexibility, and a leaner, cheaper network.
Which type of organisation would benefit more from Hybrid WAN?
Hybrid WAN is an optimal solution for organisations with MPLS that are looking to capitalise on software defined WAN (SD WAN), but don’t want to rip out and completely replace the solutions they had previously, and perhaps painstakingly, installed. It is also a strong solution for organisations looking to reduce their network costs, as well as organisations looking to augment their MPLS and become more dynamic in network provision.
Essentially, Hybrid WAN is perfect for organisation looking not to immediately move away from the inflexible nature of MPLS. Typically, in our experience with the market, the organisations looking to increase their bandwidth, but to do so in a cost-effective and timely manner, are the ones to opt for Hybrid WAN. Incrementing MPLS can take up to several weeks, where as with network provision over the Internet, an organisation would be looking at mere days.
The main purpose of hybrid technology is to push a certain set of traffic down the MPLS link and a certain set of traffic down the Internet. And the advantage of hybrid technology is that an organisation does not need to pick one or the other – Hybrid WAN allows a customer to make a delayed migration from one technology to the other, or perhaps integrate the two.
Are regional organisations making the transition to SD WAN or is MPLS still the go-to connectivity mode?
MPLS is still the provider of choice in this region – and the transition to SD-WAN is certainly not going to happen overnight, so we might continue to see MPLS for a while. But we’ve seen the transition start happening in the US and Europe, and the Middle East will follow suit. The transition to fully SD-WAN supported networks is well on its way, and we definitely think we will see a significant change by the end of the year. What we are seeing right now is instead of opting to go completely with SD-WAN, more and more customers are embracing a hybrid environment, and moving some of their cloud applications over the broadband Internet link, while maintaining MPLS for other legacy applications.
With increased demands for bandwidth, how are Silver Peak solutions prepared for future growth?
As organisations adopt public cloud services and unified communications, network architects are looking for affordable ways to improve the performance and the availability of branch office connectivity. The current practice of back-hauling Internet traffic over a WAN wastes bandwidth and adds latency.
Silver Peak helps enterprises and service providers flexibly and securely connect users to applications via the most cost-effective source of connectivity available. With Silver Peak’s WAN solutions, customers can augment or replace MPLS networks with secure Internet connectivity, (SD-WAN) while dramatically reducing WAN costs and complexity. We allow customers to benefit from unprecedented levels of visibility, control and security over all traffic traversing the WAN, while improving application and network performance. With Silver Peak, sites can be rapidly and non-disruptively extended, moved or changed as business demands evolve.
One of the chief advantages of opting for Silver Peak’s solutions is zero-touch deployment, which equals less manual intervention, making it easy to deploy new locations in minutes. Therefore, in this case, connectivity decisions can be made independent of carriers, avoiding lengthy procurement and deployment delays for a faster time-to-service.
What is your advice for organisations looking to transition to this new WAN model?
The trouble with having a pre-existing MPLS provider is that the costs are quite high in moving away from MPLS. So in essence, if an organisation is looking to add more bandwidth, they can either opt for MPLS at a significantly high cost, or they adopt a hybrid environment. The Internet service, on the other hand, is up to ten times less expensive. So before an organisation decides to make either a partial or complete transition to the Internet, it needs to ask itself, what is it looking to achieve? If the answer is cost reduction, improved performance or flexibility, then its time to make the move.
Discuss in brief some of your flagship solutions in the new WAN model.
As part of our strategy to deliver high-performing broadband and Hybrid WANs, Silver Peak recently unveiled our new solution, Unity EdgeConnect. By allowing customers to use broadband connections to augment or replace their current MPLS networks, this solution improves customer responsiveness, increases application performance and significantly reduces capital and operational expenses. Unity EdgeConnect creates a virtual network overlay, so that enterprises do not have to replace existing routers and firewalls at branch offices. This solution allows customers can move to a broadband WAN at their own pace, whether site-by-site, or via a Hybrid WAN approach that leverages both MPLS and broadband Internet connectivity.
What are the challenges customers face in fully adopting cloud applications?
The real challenge for fully adopting cloud services is the availability of that service and the performance of that service across the Internet. Delivery of complex services through the network is clearly impossible if the network bandwidth is not adequate. Many of the businesses are waiting for improved bandwidth and lower costs before they consider moving into the cloud. Many cloud applications are still too bandwidth intensive.
Performance and uptime have a direct effect on the bottom line, and it’s no secret that a fraction of a second on load time can lead customers to leave a site, costing sales. And if your site’s down for even a few minutes it can affect not just the direct bottom line, but have a longer-term impact on SEO and brand reputation as well.
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