The Case for SD-WAN

M. Fratto

M. Fratto

• Your organization may be in the minority that won’t benefit from SD-WAN products replacing your existing WAN infrastructure, but for everyone else, there’s significant upside to moving to SD-WAN sooner rather than later.

• Algorithms in SD-WAN products rationalize competing demands such as current conditions and your pre-defined requirements to optimize application performance. Let go and get on with your day.

There are too many times when I see a technology and think, “Yeah, I want to buy that.” I’m talking technology, not products, in this note. SD-WAN is one of those technologies that I think has so much upside that no matter what product you pick the result will be far and away better than what you have, in particular for interconnecting remote sites. I’m not entirely convinced of the efficacy of SD-WAN for inter-data center connectivity. The key feature is operational simplicity when compared to how inter-office connectivity is achieved today. Read more of this post

Open Network Users Group: WAN SDN a Major Theme

Mike Fratto

Mike Fratto

Summary Bullets:

  • ONUG is a user-led networking conference chock-full of good content for enterprise IT.
  •  The main theme was WAN SDN, where enterprises try to make better use of their WAN pipes.

The Open Network User Group (ONUG) is a really good show for network administrators from enterprises of all sizes to learn from their peers at larger enterprises. ONUG’s focus is on user-to-user interaction, and in that respect, the majority of the talks, in particular the morning sessions, were given or led by senior IT and network professionals and reflected issues that are faced across a spectrum of enterprises. Read more of this post

Demand Drives IPsec and Hybrid VPN Development and Progress

Joel Stradling

Joel Stradling

Summary Bullets:

  • IPsec is a suitable workaround for giving remote access to VPN users where dedicated access is a very costly proposal.
  • Service providers are adding sophistication to their hybrid VPN products to push non-critical traffic over the public Internet.

There are three main hybrid VPN and IPsec drivers: cost savings, more and more IT moving into the cloud, and globalization that sees workers needing access to the VPN from remote locations.  Putting a dedicated access in place is not always a sensible option economically, and WAN optimization and acceleration techniques are helping raise performance for cloud-based applications over any endpoint access technology (for example, DSL).  There is also growing interest in hybrid VPN solutions at larger corporate sites to save on the costly last-mile access part of a data network.  In this scenario, customers can send non-critical traffic such as file transfers and e-mail over public and shared infrastructure and use a private circuit replete with QoS for more critical and latency or jitter-sensitive applications.  The hybrid approach lets enterprise end users access their main business applications from corporate sites, their homes, and on the move during business travel. Read more of this post

Connecting to Your Cloud Provider – Internet, Direct Connect or Use the IP VPN?

Joel Stradling

Joel Stradling

Summary Bullets:

  • There are no real technical differences between cloud connectivity portfolios and traditional data connectivity
  • Public, private and hybrid cloud solutions are supported by different connectivity options from shared to dedicated infrastructure
  • Connectivity is largely provided on-net from operators, but other players such as collocation houses may offer a range of options through third party relations

When considering how to connect your business to cloud solutions, including IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS, there are a wide variety of options. If the services can be supported by best-effort, then public Internet with IPSec can suffice with the benefit of a low-cost base. However, a private cloud will give more security and resilience and can be provisioned by your service provider via a break out from a corporate IP/MPLS VPN solution to the carrier’s MPLS network and over an NNI to the cloud provider. That’s assuming of course that a corporate IP VPN solution is already in place, because building one from scratch is not a low-cost route. Read more of this post

Monitoring and Managing Business Applications in Hybrid Clouds: Technical Elegance or Road-kill?

Joel Stradling

Joel Stradling

Summary Bullets:

  • Monitoring the health of virtual infrastructure, for example on-demand computing resources and business-critical applications, running across hybrid clouds is a challenge
  • New generation cloud-aware and software management developers such as Intigua are emerging to help simplify unchartered waters of virtualizing servers, networks, and storage infrastructure

A lot of enterprises do not have even basic applications performance management and monitoring tools in place, especially where the applications in use work just fine on a best effort traffic basis, so applications that are non-latency dependant, and non-critical to business function or production. The contrast to this is where applications are seen as business-critical and in such cases the organization’s IT department is most likely to invest in an applications performance management (APM) solution from a range of choices. Service providers have made progress to meet the need for visibility on the WAN for business critical applications they are running on behalf of clients with the result all the major carriers offering data networks services proffer a backing range of APM solutions for customers. The same is nearly true for cloud-based service, but not quite! The industry is pretty good at monitoring and managing performance of physical network and infrastructure, including in the WAN. There are plenty of legacy premises-based choices, and software for management, but the cloud-aware and virtualized management layer for multiple IT resources sitting on distributed and shared cloud platforms is more of a work in progress. Read more of this post

Overlay Networks Are the Answer to Slow-Moving Service Provider WANs

Mike Fratto

Mike Fratto

Summary Bullets:

  • Network operators are competing with enterprise technology for value-added services.
  • Enterprises, being more nimble, can bring up new services faster regardless of their service provider.

One day in 1994, I called my local telephone company about getting a foreign exchange line to a nearby city so that I could stop paying local long distance.  I was told the install would cost $1,500 and the monthly charge was $500.  I asked why it was so expensive, and the representative said that the prices covered the cost to run the line 30 miles and a monthly right-of-way rental.  My next question – “Can I see the crew run the line and do I get to keep it when I am done?” – was met with silence and then a “no.”  That was my first run-in with the rigid IT and archaic processes at a large telco, and it illustrates a problem IT faces today. Read more of this post