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AI World Conference & Expo · Boston, MA · December 11-13, 2017

Posts Tagged ‘Broadband WAN’

Another New Year’s Resolution for Network Managers: I Will Embrace Virtual Network Functions

In my blog near the beginning of the year, I urged network managers to make a resolution to not stick with the status quo when it comes to evaluating and selecting an SD-WAN solution provider, as it will ultimately prove a bad decision for the company and potentially the engineer’s career.  Another resolution network managers must make in 2017 is to embrace the concept of virtual network functions (VNFs), particularly for branch office and remote locations.

In my last post I focused on how managed SD-WAN service providers can help large, distributed organizations with the complexity of managing dozens of relationships with various broadband providers. This can let a business with hundreds or even thousands of locations enjoy all the financial and performance benefits of SD-WANs without the associated risk of having to find and procure services from a bunch of DSL, cable, Ethernet, or other types of transport providers, since that’s one of the roles to managed service provider will play. This post will focus on the evaluation criteria that decision makers should use when choosing a managed service provider for SD-WAN. Below are what I believe are the top criteria:

Highly-Distributed Organizations Should Consider Managed SD-WAN To Accelerate Adoption

There is no company too small or large to take advantage of Software-Defined WAN (SD-WAN).  The only requirement is the obvious one that the business be multi-site in nature and is running a WAN that connects the locations together.  However, not all WANs are created equal.

When discussing the value of an SD-WAN, many points enter the discussion. Cost comes up as SD-WANs are certainly cheaper. Delivering a better and more predictable user experience is another reason to adopt an SD-WAN, since users will certainly experience better application performance and, in turn, become more productive. But a third element that’s not talked about as much is the automation that SD-WANs bring to networking.

Merriam-Webster defines the word “conundrum” as an “intricate and difficult problem”. This word can most certainly be used in a business context to describe the challenges associated with providing Internet access to branch and remote office workers. Legacy networks provided Internet access to users through a hub-and-spoke architecture — Internet connectivity came into the hub and then was distributed out to the branches via the spokes. This was never an ideal method of delivering Internet services since the traffic effectively traversed the WAN twice (to the branch and back); most companies lived with it, though, as Internet access wasn’t considered mission critical in the mid-90s.

In the popular comic strip Peanuts, Linus was always seen carrying his blanket.  Clearly, the blanket gave the young lad a sense of comfort and security even in the face of his sister Lucy calling it a “stupid blanket” and constantly urging him to ditch it.  To Linus, knowing the blanket was there was far more important than any kind of common sense that might make him consider giving it up.

The networking industry is in the midst of a transition to the digital era. The network plays a critical role in the success of digital businesses as many of the digital building blocks, such as IoT and the cloud, are network-centric. This is one of the reasons why there is currently so much focus on network evolution. Technologies such as SDN, SD-WAN, WiFi, segmentation are currently red hot.

However, before moving forward, it’s critically important to go through the exercise of establishing a network baseline. In actuality, setting a network baseline will provide value regardless of whether the network is being evolved or not. Understanding the current state of the network can have many benefits, including planning for growth.



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