Why you need to look beyond current WAN architectures

Make sure SD-WAN technologies improve – not impede – the user experience with proactive network monitoring.

The summer vacation countdown has ended – Hawaii here we come! The only problem is getting there. As well as navigating congestion on the highway, there’ll be a wait in the airport lounge, a transfer at Dallas, another wait to collect our bags and then the line for the rental car. Each of these touch points on our journey could potentially be a bottleneck that will impact the quality of our experience.

Whether you are taking a family trip of a lifetime or downloading an app, you want your experience to be simple and fast. Every new touch point adds a potential new breaking point.

As more systems and workloads head to the cloud, the wide area network (WAN) can serve as both a vital link and a massive bottleneck. By 2018, more than 60 percent of enterprises will have at least half of their infrastructure on cloud-based platforms.

To ensure a seamless connection to these cloud-based resources, organizations need to look beyond their current WAN architectures. They need to look to the cloud.

Software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) is designed to make WAN services easier to consume and manage. It removes potentially expensive routing hardware by provisioning networking connectivity and services via the cloud. This approach also increases flexibility at an IT and business level, as bandwidth can be quickly added or removed to cope with changes in demand.

Gartner predicts that by the end of 2019, 30 percent of enterprises will have deployed SD-WAN technology in their branches, up from less than one percent today. So what does this shift in WAN architectures mean for infrastructure and network monitoring?

Business as usual       

SD-WANs need to be monitored just as closely as their physical cousins but require organizations to scale up and redesign their infrastructure management approach. Packets can still be dropped. Thresholds can still be breached. Trends still need to be watched.

And let’s not forget data flows. Today’s typical WAN connectivity consists of one known circuit but with SD-WAN, you could have multiple connections with different providers and in different directions – making visibility into performance an even bigger headache than once thought.

Besides addressing all the usual performance pitfalls, network operators need to be ready for one added complication: change. The sheer flexibility of SD-WAN technologies doesn’t just create new opportunities; it creates new risks. Configuration settings can be updated, bandwidth resources can be added, virtual switches can be provisioned – and all at the click of the mouse.

All these modifications can impact the velocity of network traffic and transactions, resulting in a degradation of performance for the end user. Proactive and unified infrastructure management can stop these performance issues in their tracks, ensuring SD-WAN enables – not encumbers – the enterprise and service providers.

Whether it’s a customer transacting online, an employee collaborating in real-time or a partner accessing a portal, SD-WANs need to deliver a seamless experience. No one wants to be left waiting in the airport lounge – or be forced to transfer via Dallas with two bored teenagers!

Jeremy is a Sr. Product Marketing Manager for a variety of Agile Operations solutions at…


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