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Critical Applications And the WAN

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In a former life, I spent a lot of time working with customers that had remote sites spread all over the state. They had critical applications that had to be up all the time. Governments had their databases. Schools had their student information systems. Legal firms had their case tracking systems. Each of these applications were handled differently when it came to keeping them running, but all of them were vital to keeping the business running.

Critical applications need critical treatment. As nice as it might be to just move everything to the cloud and hope that it will stay up if something bad happens the truth is usually more complicated. Older applications can’t migrate easily. Small businesses often don’t have the operational freedom to move to usage-based billing for those applications. Often the only option to provide reliable service is to segregate the application onto a different circuit and hope for the best.

The new wave of Software Defined WAN (SD-WAN) technologies allows for governments and businesses to provide critical application support without additional hassle. SD-WAN solutions, like the one from Viptela can help admins identify critical traffic and give it special treatment throughout the network.

In the past, application quality of service (QoS) marking was problematic at the edge. It was difficult to identify flows. It was also hit-or-miss when it came to the treatment of the traffic once it left your network bound for your remote branch location. Providers often remark those packets at the edge unless you have a business class circuit with negotiated service level agreements (SLAs) for priority treatment.

Critical application traffic can be routed along a number of different paths to ensure reliability. This is a huge advantage from existing WAN solutions. If the application has been isolated on a circuit to ensure that it will not be impacted by regular user traffic, then that application can be affected when the circuit has an outage. With SD-WAN solutions, backup circuits can be designated per-application. This helps ensure that in the event of an outage the critical applications will be back online first and continue to operate until repairs can be made.

Additionally, these critical applications can be secured against eavesdropping and man-in-the-middle attacks thanks to SD-WAN encryption technologies. These devices automatically ensure that traffic flows are encrypted in transit, allowing your critical application data to avoid be intercepted. As more and more criminals gain access to advanced software that can be used for these purposes it is imperative that WAN solutions provide protection. Again, solutions like those from Viptela do offer native encryption between devices.

Lastly, critical applications that are in use in your environment are always under the most scrutiny by the users. Any apparent speed issues or odd behavior will be reported at a moment’s notice and it will be up to you to determine what happened. Thanks to the advanced analytics capabilities from SD-WAN solutions it is very easy to look at the statistics from various applications and provide charts and graphs detailing performance and reliability. Instead of fighting a battle about something being “slow”, you can provide hard data proving that the network was responding at optimal speed during the times in question.

Critical applications that run across your branch environments are the life-blood of your business. Are you currently entrusting your livelihood to unreliable, insecure circuits with no idea how things are performing? Or have you already started investigating the possibilities of using new SD-WAN technologies to provide peace of mind? If you haven’t, you owe it to yourself to check out a company like Viptela and see how they can help make your critical applications run much smoother across your existing WAN. Critical applications deserve critical treatment.


About the author

Tom Hollingsworth

Tom Hollingsworth is a networking professional, blogger, and speaker on advanced technology topics. He is also an organizer for networking and wireless for Tech Field Day.  His blog can be found at

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