There’s been a ton of recent vendor activity in and around the enterprise WAN. For starters, there are several start-ups emerging like Glue Networks, Viptela, CloudGenix and Velocloud. Further, Cisco announced a bunch of new hardware/software in conjunction with their IWAN architecture at Interop in the Fall, including a much-needed revamp of their path selection software (PfR). Silver Peak launched their Unity software architecture late last summer, which is essentially an IPSec-based SDN overlay that runs over the Internet and uses “cloud intelligence” to pump information back into the forwarding decision. In addition, Nuage Networks (a spin-in from Alcatel-Lucent) recently extended their data center overlay solution to the WAN as well. And these are just a few…
What all these technologies have in common is that they are in support of the “Hybrid WAN” – utilization of multiple access technologies (typically MPLS and Internet) to achieve optimal cost and performance for the enterprise. The value proposition associated with Hybrid WAN and the technology-solutions mentioned above include:
- Reduced WAN costs via using lower-cost Internet/broadband (to supplement, compliment, and/or replace traditional MPLS).
- Simplified and improved management orchestration of WAN traffic/devices, including path selection capabilities (i.e., less MacGuyery traffic engineering).
- Improved and unified visibility and monitoring traffic.
- Improved security, including improved scale for VPN-based solutions.
This very well could be the elusive “killer” SDN use-case, as many clients I speak to cite major challenges with their WAN (Cost, Performance, Availability for starters). Along these lines, we are planning to publish more in-depth research on this topic in 2015, but in the interim you can check out this highly relevant research on Hybrid WANs, authored by my colleague, Bjarne Munch:
Hybrid Will Be the New Normal for Next Generation Enterprise WAN | Bjarne Munch
Summary: Public cloud services and mobility are driving business needs where the Internet and MPLS play an equally important role for enterprise connectivity. Network planners must establish a unified WAN with strong integration between these two networks to avoid application performance problems.