This week in WAN

The enterprise WAN is going through a major transformation right now, as businesses expand their operations around the globe, support distributed workforces and ensure sustainable connectivity for cloud-based services. Venture capital has been flowing into WAN vendors, some of which have been developing software-defined and hybrid WANs to provide superior paths for critical traffic.

With these shifts in mind, let’s look at a few recent developments in the WAN space. Software-defined WAN and hybrid WAN in particular have been pivotal in reimagining the WAN as more than just a single pipe, as something that can use many different types of links to support applications like video and VoIP.

Talari Networks announces SMART Partner Program
The Talari SMART Partner Program marks an evolution in Talari’s go-to-market strategy. The channel-centric initiative enables the development of services that complement Talari solutions.

More specifically, the Talari SMART Partner Program is designed with much more than reselling in mind. It brings together partners that can provide additional services such as hosting, integration, IT outsourcing and auditing to go along with a Talari appliance.

Talari CMO Kevin Gavin emphasized that the company’s SD-WAN appliances do not compete directly with traditional WAN optimization. The latter compresses network traffic, while a Talari solution improves the underlying WAN. As such, it can actually be complementary to WAN Op.

The rise of SD-WAN for better path control and traffic automation
Speaking of WAN Op, the recent emergence of SD-WAN has revitalized and extended this practice, by enabling businesses to focus on aggregating bandwidth and optimizing performance across multiple links, rather than just one.

“The ability to use broadband in addition to MPLS links is a decisive advantage for SD-WAN.”

One of the decisive advantages of SD-WAN over traditional WANs is the ability to use broadband in addition to MPLS links. This arrangement can save money that would otherwise go toward over-provisioning of expensive MPLS bandwidth.

Moreover, the best available links are always used. Intelligent routing means that priorities – e.g., voice traffic – can be enforced in the event of a failover. Optimal paths are available to these applications to prevent degradation and disconnection.

“IT teams are being freed from WAN management because SD-WAN injects intelligence into path selection where it may not have previously existed,” explained Gina Narcisi in a recent article for TechTarget. “SD-WAN tools can monitor and reroute traffic configurations on an ongoing basis, depending on the state of the network. This ‘hybrid approach’ can include sending traffic over any WAN link a business may have. For example, private WAN links can be used if a broadband Internet link is slow or if users are experiencing jitter.”

xSD-WAN aggregates many types of links to make more bandwidth available.

New technologies and methodologies for improving the enterprise WAN
The WAN is evolving rapidly, thanks to hybrid designs that integrate MPLS and broadband. Technologies such as software-defined networking are also making it easier to integrate different types of links, such as 4G LTE, DSL and cable connections, into the WAN.

This approach to WAN design is particularly useful as more complexity is introduced to corporate networks via bring-your-own-device policies and public and private cloud architectures. Organizations such as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency have also looked to address other issues with traditional WANs such as degraded performance and inadequate security.

DARPA recently called for improved recourse for end users in remote and branch offices in the event of localized failures or denial-of-service attacks. This push came on the heels of its efforts last year with the introduction of the Edge-Directed Cyber Technologies for Reliable Mission Communication initiative, for development of new WAN tools. EDICT was set up to address security and communication issues in WANs.

Categories: Software Defined WAN (SD-WAN), Network Reliability, Hybrid WAN