With the NBN recently announcing their intention to develop enterprise transmission products it is an opportune time for organisations to review their wide area network and whether its supporting or hindering your organisation’s business objectives and operational expenses.
Software defined networking (SDN) is a way to manage an IP network via separating a network appliance’s (e.g. router or switch) control plane from the forwarding plane.
Network functions virtualisation
Network functions virtualisation (NFV) is complimentary to SDN with its focus on adding value and optimising the network services themselves.
Software defined wide area network (SD-WAN) is a type of SDN associated with WAN transmission link connections to connect an organisation’s office networks.
Your organisation is probably like most, where any innovation in the wide area network (WAN) is stagnant based on a year 2000 architecture with traditional service provider leased line transmission carriage.
Answering ‘yes’ to one of the following questions will determine if it’s time for your organisation to initiate a WAN review:
- Is your organisation about to embark on a digital transformation of its business operations?
- Does your organisation consume cloud based infrastructure or services?
- Does your WAN impact application performance to your office locations?
- Is there continual pressure to reduce operational transmission carriage cost?
- Does any WAN change involve complex design, risk and extended time to implement?
- Is your organisation becoming more security conscious?
Trends and future WANs
In the last few years there is an increasing trend of organisation’s migrating away from private data centre services to a virtualised public or hybrid cloud environment seeking enhanced flexibility, agility, resilience with reduced operational cost. This trend is unlikely to diminish, but likely to grow at an increasing rate.
With this trend to public and/or hybrid service delivery models, the change to application traffic paths via an outdated WAN architecture topology is not included in the overall solution design. Application traffic flows are subsequently routed via non-optimal WAN link paths leading to non-deterministic application performance and adverse end user experience. With little avenue to change the WAN, other than via complex quality of service configuration changes, Operational support teams can expend hours tuning the WAN with no positive outcomes.
A software defined WAN (SD-WAN) abstracts and centralises the management and control of an organisations distributed WAN appliances enabling application traffic flow visibility. Via configurable policy within the SD-WAN orchestration management station, application control of WAN link path selection and traffic characteristics including quality of service is easily facilitated.
Optional network functions virtualisation (NFV) services are also able to be attached to the individual application flows including; encryption, firewall and application acceleration to enhance the service.
SD-WAN is transmission link (i.e. leased line, MPLS, xDSL, 4G cellular radio, internet) agnostic, and can be procured as a service from traditional service providers, or, an organisation can procure, integrate and manage the technology as an ‘intelligent’ overlay service to their existing WAN.
Either option facilitates organisations with the ability to intelligently manage their WAN with respect to their business objectives which isn’t possible with a traditional leased line or MPLS WAN service.
The benefits an SD-WAN brings to an organisation include:
- improved business agility – visibility and capability for ease of change to match the needs of the business via a centralised policy, management and reporting station
- enhanced resilience – capability to automatically re-route application traffic via alternate paths upon detection of poor quality performing transmission link services transparent to users
- public carrier cost savings – migrate the WAN to lower cost internet (i.e. NBN) services while retaining higher cost public carrier leaded line transmission link services at corporate office locations where business requirements demand such services
- security – capability to secure corporate office applications via network function virtual services i.e. encryption and or firewall services
- application optimisation – facilitate consistent application performance and enhance end user experience.
To assist your organisation to navigate through the myriad of SD-WAN service provider and vendor offerings which best suit your organisation with respect to your business objectives, desired outcomes and capability, The Frame Group can offer a variety of service offerings including: