In a Years’ Time, It’ll Be About Time Driving Smart SD-WAN Adoption

Originally posted on VMblog:

The typical formula for this type of article is to take an inventory of technologies that are at the prime of their respective adoptive hype cycles and proceed to wax poetically on how they will finally go main stream in the year to come. It is good practice to cast a wide net of predictions, so that in subsequent years, you may be able to note some of the fish you caught while resisting the temptations to neglect ones that got away. Conveniently for me, this is my inaugural blog for VMblog, so I have the good fortune of a clean slate to work with. That said, it is indeed an excellent practice to assess what has transpired in the pursuit of pondering what is to come. History trends, cycles and repeats. The hill we are on helps us see where we are and where we are going. By the fact that you’re reading these words means that you understand that our industry is dynamic. In the last year we have seen dramatic shaping events that are driving us to new approaches. Here we assess some of those challenges and contemplate the potential repercussions they present us in the year to come.

At this time security is a constant and ever pervasive driver for us all. Companies and careers can be destroyed in a day without proper care and attention to the safety of our data in flight or at rest. It is on all our minds, keeping us up at night, and has compelled us to mandatory action. Safeguarding our data has driven us to adopt new models that previously we only explored. We are pulling services back from the outer reaches of the remote branch offices into our core data centers where we are able to provide greater protection. This has been facilitated by the availability of inexpensive bandwidth to our various locations. Interestingly, many of us are starting to recognize the greater competence for security may be provided by our cloud partners. The general thinking goes, nobody has more to lose than Amazon, Google, Microsoft and IBM and they take great pains to protect their data, so why should our firms not leverage that hard-earned and proven expertise for our business?

Another challenge is the ever-growing expectations of the end users for improved quality of experience (QoE) accessing their tools for their livelihoods. The end users require crisp response times so that they can maintain productivity. They are justified in being frustrated when the infrastructure and apps do not cooperate. After all, you can only be as productive as your VDI permits you to be. Additionally, accelerating this trend is the growing need for anytime, anywhere peer-to-peer collaboration. Unified communication, web meeting and web mail all are sensitive to network latency and unforgiving when the network under performs.

In addition, the end users and the business are driving us for greater flexibility in how they work and where they work. Yes, they BYOD, but also they desire a BYON (Bring Your Own Network). Additionally, with growing frequency and with the company credit card in hand, they are bringing their own SaaS apps. We understand the end users and the business units they serve are having to be more productive and adaptive to compete in a challenging interconnected world. We understand that they have to take that call from Hong Kong at the hotel in the middle of the night. They need the communication, they need the app, they need the data and they need our help. We are trying but it is not easy. We know for the end users in particular, there are less and less obvious network walls for us to firewall. We understand that any unencrypted data in flight, even when on premise, is going to be no longer acceptable. Security is mandatory but we have to provide for it in ways that allows for flexibility and productivity as well.

Thus, as the data migrates to more secure distant and secluded locations in the core or cloud, the share of critical time-sensitive traffic is growing at the periphery driving the demand for higher QoE service levels. You may be pondering WAN optimization as a means to resolve this, but regretfully, its value is diminished by exactly these same trends. WAN optimization does not help with interactive and real-time traffic. For bulk encrypted traffic, you cannot data reduce what you cannot not see. There are administrative workarounds for the encryption issue. For example, you could try and seed keys at the appliances to permit decryption and stashing but it has logistics issues and may still fail to satisfy. Even if you overcome the administrative challenges, the net effect is to have a man in the middle appliance storing data at rest in the less secure remote location, which is contradictory to the goal of centralized security. In addition, in 2016 because of continued evolution of WAN-friendly, end-to-end applications over plentiful inexpensive bandwidth, the WAN optimization market will accelerate in its decline. Indeed, Microsoft has fixed the glitch and your data is too valuable to risk it. It is notable in 2015 how many traditional WAN optimization companies pivoted to Software Defined WAN (SD-WAN) approaches because of these issues and it is well justified. How they fare in the new world of SD-WAN is yet to be seen.

Other traditional approaches use static proximity of services to manage the challenge, such as CDN, but again this has limitation. If your data and applications are distributed around the world and your users are mobile and dynamic you are constantly in a “whack the mole” mode of building and maintaining static infrastructure to chase your dynamic business needs. So the old approaches no longer satisfy but nonetheless, we have the new challenges of time-sensitive and often unpredictable traffic at the periphery UC collaborating while simultaneously interacting with the secure data in the core/cloud.

It is our belief that 2016 will bring much greater adoption of unidirectional bandwidth latency management methods provided by Smart SD-WAN solutions. For Talari’s technology, in particular, these algorithms are as fundamental to us as search is to Google. Smart SD-WAN solutions have unidirectional, multi-level instrumentation and continuous real-time analyses that enables automatic and seamless adjustments on a sub-second basis to packets traversing the network assuring end-user QoE. The latency analytical techniques are not new and have shown their utility for over a half a decade at thousands of locations for demanding mission-critical solutions. In 2016, what is changing is the accelerating need for it in vastly more enterprises driven by the aforementioned rapid changing use cases. In 2016, Smart latency aware SD-WAN autopilots will step in to fill the QoE gap. They are dynamic, agile, industry proven, ready and able. In the time to soon follow these same key metrics will be utilized to drive the next generation of automated and integrated end-to-end SDx and SFV service chains.

So our prediction is that in a years’ time, it’ll be about time driving Smart SD-WAN adoption.

*This blog article was originally drafted for VMblog.com (Virtual Technology News and Information) and is also available on the VMblog website at www.vmblog.com.

Categories: Application Performance/Application Quality, Enhance WAN Optimization, Software Defined WAN (SD-WAN)

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