As technology has advanced, enterprises have stepped up their networking game to keep up with the pressures. In the race to stay ahead of the curve, they have adopted new models and approaches that commit to the optimal quality of service (QoS). But with applications in the cloud and at the edge, and millions of users connecting from home and other scattered addresses, business networks are set to be strained to the hilt.
At the recent Networking Field Day event, Graphiant presented Network Edge, an as-a-service solution that brings together the best of MPLS and SD-WAN in a subscription-based offering that is as easy and effortless as the cloud.
About three decades ago, in 1997, MPLS or multiprotocol label switching was introduced as the connectivity solution for enterprises. The protocol routes traffic using labels as opposed to IP addresses. Data packets are labeled and sent via the shortest paths in the network. The paths are predetermined, and routers don’t need to make that decision. This reduces latency, improves QoS and overall moves traffic pretty quickly. For corporate networks that span datacenters, the branch and office – in other words, receive predictable traffic – this presents significant performance and QoS advantages.
But as connections and traffic grew, MPLS costs shot through the roof, and enterprises shifted to SD-WAN, a software-defined approach that provides simpler provisioning, improved traffic configurations and tighter security. Unlike MPLS that relies on purpose-built networks, with SD-WAN, organizations can use any network including the internet. Encrypted overlay tunnels connect users and workloads securely across transport services and infrastructures.
Enterprises rarely had any problem with this until the pandemic caused people to work from home, and suddenly the network could no longer handle it. Overnight, the network topology changed, and traffic patterns went from manageable to wild.
“We saw this shift where people were working remotely, workloads moving all over the place, everyone was trying to connect this to that. Networking people are just crunched with config changes and change control and all that stuff. There’s got to be a better way to do this and fundamentally, the use cases that are showing up will need some kind of transformation,” said Ali Shaikh, Chief Product Officer.
With cloud computing thrown into the mix, now enterprises have to deal with the vagaries of rented infrastructures that they don’t control.
Edge computing brought with it a breadth of novel applications. “A lot of use cases started to emerge around edge computing, especially in the sectors of agriculture and manufacturing. Many of them are first of their kind and they need a network,” he noted.
Many modern enterprises find their networks incapable of supporting these new applications, and technologies like AI and ML. “This year went wild with Gen AI, and everybody is churning out massive amounts of data. Our network is still too rigid for that.”
SD-WAN is fast outrunning its practicality as the headaches of building unlimited overlays pile up. With MPLS, cost is a big barrier. “For us, there was a moment of realization that connectivity needs are changing, and this is an opportunity to create a new company,” said Shaikh.
The industry is well familiar with as-a-service solutions like SaaS, PaaS and IaaS. To that umbrella, Graphiant adds its network-as-a-service solution. Graphiant did not stray from the playbook when designing this network. It invoked the core principles of SDN to pack the best features into an as-a-service offer.
Graphiant’s Network Edge is a highly flexible and hands-off solution that does not requires customers to build the network. Users can simply subscribe to the connectivity of their choice and a network, ready-to-consume comes with it. The enterprise networking team just needs to configure the applications depending on their requirements. Everything else is handled by Graphiant.
This solution addresses the cost blowout of MPLS by disaggregating the data and control planes. Typically, the control plane consumes a lot of compute power. Graphiant offloads that to the cloud where compute capacity is unlimited, keeping the data plane separate. This slashes off the expense by over 60% without any performance or security tradeoffs.
The solution offers built-in encryption. “There’s no intermediate breakages, or termination, no decryption event in transit. The data is encrypted end to end just like you expect with your phone iMessage.
Clunky provisioning and slow connectivity fly in the face of rising expectations of users. It’s time that the technical burdens of networking that hurt operational agility is taken off of the hands of enterprises. With the performance of MPLS and flexibility of cloud, Graphiant’s network-as-a-service is an attractive solution that can greatly simplify complex networking tasks and can be used as an all-encompassing solution that reduces cost and work, while putting back power into the hands of enterprises.