Since the beginning of time, technology companies have been fighting tirelessly against capacity limitations. It seemed as though technology could never keep up with application demand for compute, disk and network. Within just the last few years, we’ve seen capacity start to slowly let its guard down, no longer being the mighty barrier it once was. However, a new challenger awaits us: Complexity.
Brach office designs haven’t changed all that much in past decade. Sure you have several options available to you, but from a conceptual standpoint the only thing that has changed is business criteria. Companies are looking to cut costs while increasing reliability. They’re looking to tack on additional services like voice, guest wireless, or remote surveillance. Companies want to keep their engineering and operations teams small, whilst adding these extra layers of complexity. The branch WAN is just one battle in the complexity war, with SD-WAN a beaconing hope for simplicity.
Nearly all industries are impacted by complexity in the WAN: retail, healthcare, financial, you name it. While each of these industries will continue to have their niche desires for branch connectivity, we’re starting to see the emergence of a common theme regarding efficacy and abstraction, inherently merging branch requirements regardless of industry. Some common desirability amongst these industries include:
- Increased Reliability
- Cost Reductions
- Compliance / Security
- Cloud Architecture Adoption
- New Services
- Guest Wireless
- Application Priority
- Centralized Management
These may seem like commonsense desires for any company when building out a WAN architecture. You’d be correct! Some of these desires may be new, but many are long-standing objectives that organizations have sought after for years, possibly decades. However, most organizations struggle to successfully adopt and implement solutions that match the aspired outcome. Why is that? Complexity.
SD-WAN & Viptela
SD-WAN solutions providers, like Viptela, understand that in order to meet desired outcomes, you must reduce complexity. Your transport between sites shouldn’t matter. Your circuit costs should be minimal. You shouldn’t have to worry about security or compliance. Routing should be application-aware, with priority given to business-critical services. You should have deep visibility and centralized management. Countless hours designing, implementing and supporting such a complex environment should be a thing of the past! (Hey, a boy can dream)
Viptela is one of the SD-WAN market leaders with veritable success simplifying branch designs while cutting costs. To date they have the largest SD-WAN deployment in the world. Their largest customers are diverse in industry, solving this common theme of requirements for modern branch connectivity.
Viptela dubs their SD-WAN solution as transport-agnostic. From an operational perspective this means the underlay, whether it’s MPLS, Metro Ethernet, Broadband or LTE, does not matter. For reliability, most branch designs are either already utilizing, or moving towards dual-broadband connectivity. Viptela abstracts and automates this with a centralized policy. Large banking customers are seeing operational benefits using a hybrid combination of MPLS, Broadband and LTE. Conveniently, Viptela is now offering branch routers equipped with either a single, or dual, 4G/LTE SIM.
For large customers such as Gap, Inc., with well over 1,000 sites, scaling such a solution is of upmost importance. This is where Viptela is strongest in the market with multiple customer engagements, each scaling in the multi-thousands.
The de facto standard for connectivity has traditionally been MPLS. Organizations demand reliability, but their wallets suffer the consequences. In an SD-WAN world, replacing MPLS with dual-commodity circuits could result in substantial savings. This isn’t for everyone, but calculations reveal striking OPEX reductions for those confident with SD-WAN and commodity Broadband.
Cloud Architecture Adoption
Organizations are embracing SaaS offerings such as Office365, Salesforce, SAS and AWS-hosted applications. If it’s not required to proxy this through corporate data centers, why send the traffic back at all? Flexibility with SD-WAN, such as Viptela’s application-aware routing, enables companies to securely route traffic locally from branch sites, improving application performance and potentially saving sacred bandwidth in data centers.
Delivery of new services such as VoIP, guest wireless, or VDI are complicating designs, burning through engineering hours and raising security concerns. Such implementations should be straightforward, policy-based and properly segmented. Speaking with a few Viptela customers, this is precisely the expectation of their software-defined WANs, eliminating that pale-faced fear when your CIO says, “we need guest wireless deployed to all locations… tomorrow”.
Compliance / Security
It’s generally accepted that MPLS is private, therefore secure. This obviously isn’t the case for raw Internet. That’s why Viptela utilizes a TPM chip with pre-loaded certificates, guaranteeing automated end-to-end encryption. Organizations do not have to worry about internal PKIs.
Network security is provided though end-to-end segmentation policies, essentially implementing VRFs per network segment with complete separation of routing instances and network-specific access policies.
Gone are the days of IP-based networks. Gasp! Well, they’re still IP, but the focus is definitely on the application, and routing decisions should be based upon this, regardless of the network. QoS traditionally solved application priority concerns, but if you’ve ever implemented or managed QoS, you know how ridiculously complex it can get. Viptela bundles these decisions in policies, extraordinarily simplifying application awareness while prioritizing critical applications end-to-end.
For many moons we have fought the capacity monster. Conquered, we now fight against complexity. SD-WAN is not just a hot topic; it truly is the future for branch connectivity, and arguably one of the most practical adaptations of SDN. New comers and heavy weights are duking it out in this market space. One thing is certain: this competition is accelerating simplicity. It’s not often I am impressed to the point of jaw drop with a new technology, especially a new vendor. SD-WAN will continue to evolve, Viptela pioneering this new age.