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SD-WAN Is Providing the Connection Necessary for Cloud Migration

SD-WANWide area network (WAN) has been a beneficial tool, but as cloud technology becomes more prevalent, companies need more flexibility and better performance. A software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) provides the fast connection speed and management visibility that enterprises want.

Why You Need More Than WAN

There are several factors influencing the interest in SD-WAN versus the continued use of WAN. Enterprises need more flexibility as they expand cloud resources, driven by a customer-focused view of business goals. The best and most user-friendly customer interfaces are through apps that run in the cloud, so in order to remain competitive, companies are implementing cloud software.

Another factor contributing to demand for SD-WAN is the increased need for bandwidth. Employees are dependent on mobile access to networks. In some cases, workers carry a company device plus a personal one, so from the time they enter the building, businesses are often supporting more bandwidth than initially planned for.

How SD-WAN Answers Your Network Concerns

Software-defined networking (SDN) increases the agility of your overall network system by decoupling the control plane (the control and decision-making surrounding your traffic) from the underlying traffic forwarding, also known as the data plane. SD-WAN applies the principles of SDN to WAN in order to connect medium and large corporations’ branch offices to data centers, headquarters, and to the private and public cloud where software applications are housed.

SD-WAN is gaining serious momentum with enterprises. The ability to have a new branch up and running quickly as companies expand, the increased need for mobile technology, and the migration to the cloud are all making SD-WAN an increasingly appropriate means to gain better agility and flexibility.

IT professionals are frustrated with WAN’s inability to handle cloud-era technology with the speed and performance necessary to support cloud applications. SD-WAN accesses multiple types of connections between locations, data centers, and cloud sources to allow for greater speed, increased productivity, and better management of bandwidth requirements.

One consideration that makes SD-WAN an attractive alternative to growing enterprises is that it doesn’t require a complete overhaul of the network, nor does it demand a major investment in hardware. Instead, SD-WAN can be implemented gradually, utilizing the existing WAN configuration as you transition to an SD-WAN structure.

As more services transition to the cloud, it’s important to have the network you need for optimal performance, speed, and infrastructure management. You also need a partner you can trust. Call us today at T2 to find out which types of solutions are the best fit for your company’s current and future requirements.

The Importance of Wireless WAN Connections for Businesses

shutterstock_328634297Wireless internet connectivity continues to be an important asset for businesses, including wide-area network (WAN) connections. According to Enterprise Management Associates (EMA), 96% of distributed companies rely on wireless for WAN connections in certain remote locations.

Even if businesses aren’t necessarily using wireless for all of their remote sites, it still stands that companies depend on this technology for parts of their operations. The continuously developing wireless technology in today’s IT industry keeps it relevant, with public Wi-Fi and LTE/4G among the most commonly used wireless technologies available for a variety of applications.
Benefits of Using Wireless Technology for Enterprises

WAN has used wireless technology for a long time, but in the past it served mostly as backup connections — which is how many businesses are still using it today. In the event of an outage that occurs in their normal wired WAN link, companies can use wireless 3G or 4G radio instead, helping avoid downtime.
Which Industries Use Wireless Technology the Most?

Some of the industries that rely on wireless technology for WAN connections include banking, insurance, and manufacturing. According to the same EMA study, banking and insurance enterprises use 3G and satellite connections more than others. A 3G connection would make sense in these environments because of the low cost for connecting many single-transaction devices at one time, such as ATMs.

At the same time, manufacturers experiencing dramatic growth may need to connect with an increasing number of remote sites in a timely fashion, and 4G/LTE connections offer an effective temporary connection until they can install wired WAN connections.
Increased Security with Wireless

Wireless technology isn’t only crucial for temporary connectivity. EMA also found that many companies turn to wireless for improved security, better performance, and expanded bandwidth. Only 18% of businesses used it simply because of a lack of a wired connection.

LTE/4G also allows for better security, with top-level encryption over multiple layers of security, making it an ideal form of wireless to install around the world.

EMA predicts that wireless technology will only continue to grow in popularity, and businesses will be able to see the benefits when turning to this technology to support a WAN connection.

How to Improve Cloud Network Performance

shutterstock_234708769Many companies tend to focus too exclusively on constructing their cloud platform, to the point where other crucial aspects of IT go overlooked. One of these important elements includes network management, making sure that performance is optimal.

Maintaining the Network

When companies are too concerned about cloud services, they might lose control over the network, resulting in poorer performance. With cloud technology, the network relies on smooth operation to handle the increased traffic that employees access over the cloud. Essentially, the network and the cloud merge together.

In order to prevent network crashes or generally poor performance, companies’ IT departments need to take steps to improve the network’s efficiency and work within budget constraints. Smaller businesses that are continually expanding will particularly want to avoid going over budget, as they will often require additional physical office space and network capacity to handle the addition of new employees. Even larger businesses will still search for ways to avoid spending more than they need to on their network, but optimizing network performance is required for cloud services to run smoothly.

There are several ways keep your network performing the way it should.

Managing Traffic with WAN

WAN optimization involves several aspects that companies should pay attention to in order to make WAN more efficient and more capable of handling heavy traffic. Some of the processes that WAN optimization involves include:

  • De-duplication, a process that helps remove backup-related traffic by backing up files only once, and gradually sending pieces of those files over a period of time as opposed to all at once.
  • Compression, which reduces the sizes of files by using algorithms to remove unneeded parts of files, subsequently helping further reduce network traffic.
  • Caching, which takes unsaved images and other items that Internet browsers request, and sends them to a remote locations. A local device then caches the item, and the device can then save it locally in order to avoid taking up bandwidth space.

In order to further manage traffic using WAN, companies should perform tasks such as traffic monitoring and traffic shaping to properly control network traffic and further maximize WAN efficiency. With a well-managed WAN connection, your network should benefit from more bandwidth as well as controlled traffic.

Using Broadband Bonding to Improve Efficiency

Broadband connections can provide plenty of bandwidth for larger businesses while remaining relatively inexpensive. Unfortunately, broadband connections aren’t often that reliable or expansive, rendering them somewhat ineffective in networks. As a result, they aren’t typically very scalable and are prone to faults. This is a problem that companies can avoid by taking advantage of broadband bonding, which entails combining several different connections into a unified one. Broadband bonding will help ensure that each of your connections works as a single cohesive network.

Companies need to consider that as the cloud becomes increasingly popular and more advanced, both the network and the cloud are gradually combining together. As businesses come to rely even more on quality network connectivity, they will want to find ways to handle traffic and keep the network efficient at all times. Once companies have solid control over their networks, they will be able to use the cloud without running into issues that are likely to become a thing of the past.

Update Hybrid WAN Topology for Updated Connectivity

shutterstock_83275759When deploying certain applications in organizations, WAN is a solution that can simplify the process. However, in order to implement WAN, service topology is required where network topology is outdated.

While the complexity of data centers were the main cause of frustration for implementation of new applications, those frustrations have more recently been associated with the WAN. The principal reason for this is the transition to the cloud, which is making it harder for WAN to stay relevant as CRM and ERP are adapting to cloud connectivity. Over ten years ago the WAN changed to an MPLS Layer 3 VPN and unfortunately hasn’t updated since then. WAN simply doesn’t have the means to keep up with changes in bandwidth and other elements that the cloud has encouraged.

This doesn’t mean that WAN is destined to stay outdated, though. It simply means that WAN must update in order to stay relevant.

Creating a Hybrid WAN

There are several reasons why WAN is more troublesome. One of the main disadvantages is its overall inability to control those services. The reliance on service providers to make way for new system changes has proven to be difficult for enterprises, as it often takes a long time to make these changes.

Rather than depending solely on MPLS, hybrid WAN could make implementing new applications much more efficient. For instance, a complete VPN system could utilize Ethernet, Internet, and MPLS, while simultaneously allowing all needed apps to connect without issue. With other modes of transport, a complete WAN infrastructure can make rollout much less of a hassle for businesses.
Various SLAs would also be put into effect, depending on where the services will be used and their specific use.

In order to implement a hybrid WAN, service topology enabling strict central management is needed. The current outdated model consists of network topology with peer-to-peer management that isn’t ideal.

Network topology entails several control planes that work separately, with IPsec for location security as well as OSPF and BGP for setting up VPN routes. Because none of these control planes work unanimously, and use a peer-to-peer system, it’s often frustrating to make a system change because of the amount of steps it takes.

Switching to Service Topology

The switch from network topology to service topology in WAN is achieved through disconnecting networking nodes with the control planes. This will benefit WAN in numerous ways:

  • Limited control plane connections allow for the deployment of any kind of data plane topology
  • A majority of calculations, including alternate paths, configurations, and policies are centrally located
  • Physical paths are no longer needed for security services like IPS, IDS and firewalls, which can use virtual paths
  • The lack of peer-by-peer connection results in simpler site bring-ups
  • The control plane can serve virtually, stored in a private or public cloud or the data center

As cloud technology continues to develop into the most expansive VPN constructed, service topology is needed in order to sufficiently support new enterprise applications.