You don’t have to follow enterprise IT too closely before you quickly become familiar with the idea of SD-WAN. It’s the chili of enterprise networking. Everyone seems to have their own recipe, but when you look in the pot, they all look similar. Some come canned from a company, making it easy to deploy into a bowl. Others provide a few secret spices to add to what you’re already cooking. And some organizations just roll their own from scratch. There’s great debate whether IWAN is chili, or simply a very complicated stew.
Don’t Hate, Aggregate
While a lot of SD-WAN companies focus just on the recipe, TELoIP has a different focus. They’re delivering it as a service model, as opposed to going direct to organizations. They’ve built a true multi-tenant solution with nine Points of Entry across North America. Their business model is built around the idea that for the foreseeable future, large scale network rip and replace scenario won’t be all that common. SD-WAN needs to allow organizations to co-exist with MPLS.
So the important question is, what can TELoIP’s Virtual Intelligent Network Overlay (VINO) SD-WAN solution do? I’ve seen two themes appear in a lot of competing solutions, either a focus on WAN optimization, or Man in the Middle operators, that focus on end-to-end visibility and control. TELoIP seems to have more of a background on the optimization side. It’s also a very business oriented optimization. A lot of the features of their solution is based around getting the most out of the connections an organization pays for, all while providing redundancy.
It’s easy to achieve simplistic redundancy in a network, simply pay for additional hardware and connections. TELoIP wants to bundle whatever connections are available, DSL, Fiber, Cable, and use their patented Per-Packet Aggregation to combine the links into a single unified overlay, managed as a single plane from a given branch. This is kind of a central tenant of how TELoIP approaches SD-WAN. This maximizing of connections allows them to leverage other useful features into their stack.
One is preemptive failover. Their central orchestration controller is able to monitor for outages on any particular aggregated connection. In the case of asymmetrical connections, that means the orchestrator is able to detect outages before a branch. When it does, it’s able to seamlessly failover to all of the other aggregated connections, without a loss in performance. I saw a demo of this with a VOIP call talking about the feature as physical connections were literally being pulled in real time. Both speed and more importantly call quality were unaffected.
This was also aided by their Intelligent Packet Distribution Engine. This is their catchy name for offering bi-directional QoS. Basically, in-bound and out-bound traffic is subject to rate-limits and assigned packet priority to ensure that your torrent of all nine seasons of One Tree Hill won’t mess up the CEO’s WebEx.
In the chili analogy, QoS is the chili powder of SD-WAN, if it’s not in there in some capacity, I’m giving your solution a bit of a side eye. While it’s an expected feature, it doesn’t mean it’s any less welcome or useful.
One interesting note on their implementation is that it’s purely a hardware based install. No such luck using IPsec tunnels. I don’t think this will be too big of an issue, given their customer base, but worth noting. To be fair though, some SD-WAN solutions using IPsec tunnels are really just a fancy VPNs anyway. With their focus on circuit aggregation, I imagine dedicated hardware is impossible to avoid.
TELoIP has a healthy portfolio of intellectual property, which they were understandably proud to show off. In the SD-WAN chili cookout, they might not have the biggest booth at the fair, but they’ve got a pretty unique recipe to test your palate.
I’ve highlighted the features that jumped out to me, their aggregated connection approach is really fascinating, and informs a lot of their other features. TELoIP is no newcomer to SDN, and their approach to SD-WAN shows it. Make sure to checkout their presentation from Networking Field Day for more of a technical deep dive.