Posts Tagged ‘hybrid WAN’

As a sports fan, there are many events that I look forward to every year.  There’s the Super Bowl, NCAA College Football Championship game as well as the playoffs for MLB, NHL and NBA.  However, these all have one thing in common – they’re generally played on weekends or weekday evenings so people can enjoy them at home.

I’d like to wish everyone a hearty Happy New Year! This is the time of year that we make promises to ourselves like saying we will get to the gym more often, lose weight, not text and drive and other things that should improve our lives or the world we live in. Many of us make these resolutions annually, but fail to keep them as they are often unrealistic or simply too hard to live up to. I’d like to offer up five New Year’s resolutions for those of you who manage your company’s wide area network. They are as follows:

Success in the digital era isn’t based on the company that has the lowest prices, best products, or even the best people. Maintaining a leadership position is predicated on the ability to quickly adapt the business to seize new opportunities faster and maintain competitive edge. The concept of becoming a “digital company” can be quite intimidating for many organizations, particularly established corporations that haven’t relied on technology in the past, as there’s a perception that digital transformation requires big moonshot-like initiatives and investments.  Hotels think they need to become AirBnB and transportation companies try to follow Uber’s lead, but they don’t need to. It’s critical for business leaders to understand that digital transformation is more about “chip shot” initiatives rather than a moonshot.

The rise of cloud applications has been well documented on this site and others.  The cloud era kicked off with a handful of SaaS applications, such as ERP, CRM and HR systems. Today, businesses are buying almost everything from the cloud from compute services, contact center software, unified communications to anything else you can think of. These apps and services may look somewhat unrelated, but they all have one thing in common, they are highly dependent on the network to perform properly.

Cyber security remains a hot topic with nearly every IT and business leader that I speak with. In particular, there seems to be an intensified focus on network security. Security is typically deployed in layers (network, compute and application), and I expect that model to continue in the short-term, but given the fact that many of the building blocks of digitization, such as IoT and the cloud, are network-centric, there should be a stronger focus on leveraging the network and network-based security to protect the organization.

As someone who has been following enterprise WAN architectures for decades, I find their evolution fascinating, especially the number of new technologies that have been deployed in isolation. For example, WAN optimization and SD-WANs are often discussed as separate solutions.  From my perspective, I can’t fathom why a business would deploy an SD-WAN and not implement WAN optimization as part of it.  If you’re going to go through the work of modernizing your WAN architecture, then why wouldn’t you integrate optimization technologies into your deployment right from the start?

Software defined WANs (SD-WANs) have gained market momentum so quickly because their value proposition is multi-faceted. Some enterprises have looked to SD-WAN as a way to dramatically lower network transport costs, while others are building SD-WANs to automate network operations. One of the more common use-cases I have seen is to shift toward an “active-active” architecture.

Active-Active WAN Architecture

Historically, WANs are built on the concept of “active-passive”, where a branch can be connected using two or more links, but only the primary link is active and passing traffic.  In this scenario, the backup connection only becomes active in the event the primary connection fails. While this might seem sensible, it’s highly inefficient as enterprises are paying for far more bandwidth than they are actually leveraging. This inefficient architectural design is driving increased interest in active-active configurations.



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