Cheaper, Faster, Better (Networking Options Are Real)

One of the great unsung benefits of the IT era is, breaking the chains of the old engineer’s dictum, “You can have it cheaper, faster, or better…pick two.” Time and again, organizations of all kinds have found that they can, with the introduction of new technology, get solutions to their problems that are cheaper and faster and better all at the same time. In the words of a recent ad campaign, “And is better than or.”

One of the current technology trifectas is the introduction of Internet links to branch WAN connectivity. On average, more than a third of branches now have an Internet link direct. These links are sometimes devoted to actual Internet traffic, removing the backhaul from the loop for use of SaaS applications, for example. Some links are used as a mix of direct Internet access and VPN back to the data center. Some are even used wholly as WAN replacement, whether via simple router-­‐to-­‐router VPN or more advanced SD-WAN connections.

When you use branch Internet solely for Internet access, you’ll often get better performance for SaaS applications and web surfing, but not for internal apps; and you can easily see costs overall rise to cover the cost of additional port speeds and security infrastructure. When you use Internet as a WAN replacement with a simple IPSEC VPN, you’re likely to save money, but potentially at the cost of reduced application performance for any kind of demanding application. In both cases, management can get a lot more complicated.

It’s in the case of SD-WAN that you get the three-­‐fer. When you sub in multiple Internet links for some or all of the connectivity to a branch, you can get massive improvements in capacity and performance both. Good SD-WAN solutions can and will balance traffic for your applications across all the available links, using the Internet whenever and wherever they can to improve performance. That might be by shunting low-­‐performance applications off to the high-­‐capacity link to focus MPLS bandwidth on VOIP and the like. Or it might be by using Internet only, from diverse providers and in tandem to deliver solid performance even for VDI or VOIP as well as keeping everything else flowing.

Provisioning multiple broadband links can also give a branch that never could afford it before a new, higher level of resilience. And even with multiple links, shifting to broadband can slash connectivity costs.

Let’s not lose track of the other aspect of “faster” for WANs: the lead time required  to bring up a new location. For MPLS networks, IT executives continually bemoan to us the lengthening of lead times for getting MPLS locations lit up, from 60 days to 90 to as much as 120 now. Contrast that with what they tell us of their broadband provisioning times: typically, between 14 and 30 days. So, broadband as a WAN technology allows faster execution of branch strategy. (Looking ahead, we fully expect to see 4G LTE wireless WAN become common, and at that point will see another acceleration, with branches being able to come up on demand.)

So, faster, better, AND cheaper options for the WAN are now practical and  spreading. Everyone with a WAN should be evaluating their options to reduce costs, improve performance, and increase resiliency via SD-WAN.

To learn more, join the upcoming webinar, Demystifying the Software Defined WAN. Register here.

Categories: Hybrid WAN, Internet as WAN (MPLS Alternatives), Software Defined WAN (SD-WAN)