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Mastering your WAN

by Andrew Lerner  |  April 10, 2014  |  1 Comment

The Masters golf tournament starts this week, and as branch users stream video, it can lead to a tradition of degraded WAN performance unlike any other.  If you’re looking for ways to address recreational Internet traffic, I’ve blogged about that here

However, when evaluating WAN performance, it makes sense to take a broader look at your overall WAN architecture, including topology, network equipment, carriers, security, etc.  We are contemplating new research on architecting NextGen WANs, but in the interim here are some best practices and recommendations to get you thru many of today’s WAN challenges.

MPLS and Internet/VPN are still the dominant enterprise WAN connectivity mechanisms, and while we are seeing a gradual shift towards Internet, MPLS is certainly not dead.  When selecting your WAN carrier, it is important to note that in many cases, Bandwidth Doesn’t Matter; Availability Drives Enterprise Network Costs.  In addition, we have published research if you are looking for alternatives to MPLS such as VPLS or Ethernet (also here).

Now dealing with carriers has never been fun, especially when they do stuff like this.  That said, there are some lesser-known practices you can follow to save some money.  We have a Magic Quadrant that covers global carriers as well as Critical Capabilities research covering providers in the US and Pan-European regions.  If you ultimately decide to switch carriers, we can help you with that too.

To further complicate things, increased enterprise adoption of public cloud services has significantly changed the requirements on modern WANs, and we’ve written specifically about SaaS and IaaS implications on the WAN.  This has a cascading effect on security which was tedious to begin with.  We have a really good primer on how to Bring Branch Office Network Security Up to the Enterprise Standard as well as How to Control Recreational Internet Traffic in Enterprise Networks.  And did you know that you can even use your WAN as a defense against DDoS Attacks? You certainly can’t talk branch security without discussing customer premise equipment (CPE) such as routers or UTM equipment.  While the router space is covered largely by Cisco, HP, Juniper and Adtran, there are a number of UTM players, thus we have a UTM Magic Quadrant

If you’re looking to improve performance of applications across the WAN or reduce bandwidth you’ll want to look at WAN Optimization.  We publish a Magic Quadrant for WAN Optimization Controllers.  Contrary to popular belief, don’t just put the leaders on your shortlist and send them an RFP; instead make sure you are picking the Right WAN Optimization Solution for Your Organization.  However, if you’re on-board with WOC but can’t convince senior management, we can help you with justifying WAN Optimization.  Finally, if WAN load-sharing is your pain-point there are a couple of options including

  • Traditional network and routing “stuff” such as NAT/PAT, BGP, and FHRPs.
  • Advanced features on existing CPE such as link balancing and dynamic path selection.
  • Dedicated WAN path controllers (WPC).
  • Newer orchestration-centric approaches from companies like Anuta Networks and the aptly-named Glue Networks.

Regards, Andrew

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Category: networking  sd-wan  security  wan  woc  

Tags: adtran  anuta-networks  cisco  glue-networks  hp  juniper  mpls  utm  vpls  wan  

Andrew Lerner
Research Vice President
6+ years at Gartner
21 years IT Industry

Andrew Lerner is a Vice President in Gartner Research. He covers enterprise networking, including data center, campus and WAN with a focus on emerging technologies (SDN, SD-WAN, and Intent-based networking). Read Full Bio


Thoughts on Mastering your WAN


  1. […] traditional enterprise WAN architecture is not ideally suited for adoption of cloud-based IaaS and SaaS applications, due […]



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