In this episode of #CloudTalks, Compare the Cloud speaks with Paul Griffiths from Riverbed about the benefits provided by their SD-WAN solutions. Continue reading for more information about how SD-WAN can deliver improved performance and agility for businesses.
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SD-WAN: An agile enabler of enterprise movement towards the cloud
Gone is the time where IT assets were limited to a handful of data centres. Gone is the time where users and applications were all bound by one unified MPLS network. Today, businesses are increasingly mixing off-premises assets to their existing IT infrastructure. Productive users are everywhere, on-premise but also on the road or at home. The Internet is becoming the backbone of enterprise communications.
As enterprises are becoming more hybrid, the shape of the network itself is dramatically changing. The underlying networks are getting more diverse in terms of performance and security. MPLS is now combined with the Internet using a variety of transports from DSL to fibre and even 4G/LTE.
With HD Internet Video or Unified Communication and Collaboration (UCC), the traffic mix and the communication requirements are getting richer and more dynamic. The network has never been so heterogeneous, distributed and complex. Architectures built for the network as it was 10 years ago are rapidly losing relevance.
- Managing multiple WAN paths and distributed local Internet breakouts is becoming crucial but lacks efficient solutions
- Being too static, mechanisms like QoS become a nightmare to manage
- While network performance can be controlled and optimised on-premise, guaranteeing performance for mobile users and/or off-premise applications is extremely challenging
- Holistic visibility on the traffic requires more instrumentation devices than ever
- Visibility on the performance delivered by off-premise cloud service providers is a new problem without a practical solution
Over the past few years, a novel architecture has emerged to solve similar problems at the data centre level: Software Defined Networking (SDN). Today, vendors are emerging with solutions to deliver guaranteed application performance to the modern users and workloads of the hybrid enterprise, by applying the SDN principles to the WAN in the form of so called SD-WAN solutions. While the market for an SD-WAN solution begins to emerge, the requirements for an excellent SD-WAN solution appear clearly:
- Optimisation capabilities for on-premise and cloud based applications like Office 365 or Salesforce.com
- A network and application aware path selection capability to direct traffic on the appropriate network (MPLS, Internet)
- Dynamic tunneling with central control plane allowing secure backhauling of branch traffic to the corporate data centre across the Internet
- A simple interface to zScaler or other cloud-based security services enabling local Internet breakouts without requiring further investment in on-premise Internet security appliances
- Inbound QoS to manage local Internet breakouts and protect business Internet against surges in recreational Internet
- Deep and wide visibility on all assets interconnected by the SD-WAN with holistic visibility on network usage, performance and integration with end-user experience monitoring of on-premise and SaaS applications
In addition, a proper SD-WAN central management console is one that marks the start of an era of dramatic improvement of manageability and usability of control capabilities like QoS, path selection or VPN management. Ideal SD-WAN management consoles expose to the users an intuitive interface and management plane based on high level abstractions like applications, sites, uplinks or networks that matches the way they see their IT environment. Ideal SD-WAN solutions shall rely on a control plane designed to support intent based configuration that provides a translation of global parameters into local policies.
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Thanks to SD-WAN, customers should be able to implement new, more efficient, configuration and change management workflows that make hybrid-networking capabilities really usable. SD-WAN has the potential to deliver to the business, the performance and agility they need for business critical applications, while controlling and reducing network costs at the same time.