For enterprises with locations scattered across cities, countries or continents, connecting them with performant and reliable WAN connectivity is a top priority. Traditional MPLS networks are costly and rigid while basic public internet connections lack performance guarantees. Modern WAN solutions address these challenges with software-defined and optimized approaches. In this article, we will explore key considerations in choosing a WAN architecture and examine options like SD-WAN and WAN optimization to empower distributed enterprises.
The WAN Imperative for Distributed Businesses
WAN is the networking fabric that stitches distributed operations of a business together. It connects branch offices to each other and data centers to enable key applications. For global enterprises, the distances involved make optimized WAN even more critical. Without it, SaaS apps and VoIP communications stutter while processes lag between regions. Employees struggle to collaborate and customers receive poor experiences. Ultimately, the business falls behind competitors who implement robust WAN connectivity.
What should enterprises look for in designing their WAN? Key considerations include:
– Cost: Select cost-efficient options like SD-WAN to avoid overpaying for MPLS lines.
– Bandwidth: Ensure adequate bandwidth for business needs and future growth at all sites.
– Reliability: Minimize network downtime that disrupts operations through redundancy.
– Performance: Latency-sensitive apps like VoIP and UC need QoS optimization mechanisms.
– Agility: Quickly scale bandwidth up or down as requirements evolve.
– Security: Use encryption and network segmentation to protect sensitive data.
– Monitoring: End-to-end visibility for rapid fault isolation and resolution.
– Cloud integration: Optimally connect to SaaS, IaaS and remote data center locations.
Two modern solutions, SD-WAN and WAN optimization, address many of these criteria to empower global network architectures.
The Promise and Value of SD-WAN
SD-WAN offers a software-defined approach to designing and managing WAN connectivity in enterprise networks. It reduces reliance on rigid MPLS lines provisioned by telcos. Instead, businesses can leverage any type of transport – MPLS, broadband, LTE, etc. Based on policies, traffic is intelligently routed over the optimal link.
Centralized SD-WAN controllers live in data centers or the cloud. They manage policies and gather data across WAN edges located at branches. Edges support secure VPN tunnels between locations and route traffic based on VPN, QoS markings, and other rules. Hybrid WAN combines MPLS with broadband to balance cost, performance, and reliability.
Benefits of SD-WAN include:
– Lower costs by using cheaper internet in tandem with MPLS
– Better experience for SaaS apps and VoIP through QoS optimization
– Improved reliability via redundant paths between endpoints
– Zero-touch deployment model across all branch locations
– Granular security controls and segmentation
– Single unified view of entire WAN from central dashboard
SD-WAN streamlines operations with centralized policies, automation and analytics. Businesses gain an agile, high-performing network that securely connects all locations.
Boosting Performance Through WAN Optimization
In addition to using SD-WAN, enterprises can further enhance performance over WAN links by implementing optimization techniques. This is especially beneficial for latency-sensitive applications like voice and video that degrade over long distances.
Common WAN optimization approaches include:
– Traffic shaping and QoS: Prioritize mission-critical apps and delay less sensitive protocols.
– Compression: Reduce bandwidth consumed over links using standard and proprietary algorithms.
– Caching: Store commonly accessed data locally at branch edges to avoid round trips.
– Protocol optimization: Tweak TCP behavior across WAN to minimize chatty protocols.
– Deduplication: Eliminate duplicate packets being sent over the wire.
– Forward error correction: Overcome packet loss by reconstructing missing packets.
Deploying WAN optimization appliances at endpoints complements the capabilities of SD-WAN infrastructure. Together, they provide a high-performance optimized fabric connecting distributed enterprises.
Choosing the Right WAN Solutions
For global enterprises, networking decisions have big ramifications on operations and competitiveness. Evaluating needs and aligning solutions prepares companies for the future. SD-WAN and optimization provide building blocks for agile, scalable, and reliable WAN. Enterprises can map out an integrated WAN approach by partnering with an experienced managed service provider like CSPi Technology Solutions.
CSPi can help prioritize critical sites and applications to showcase value from early SD-WAN and optimization deployments. They will then gradually build out capabilities in phases based on budgets. CSPi will mix and match connectivity options to balance cost, bandwidth, and redundancy needs for each location. Over time, enterprises can work with CSPi to transform their global network into a high-speed information highway fueling business success. With the right WAN blueprint from a trusted provider like CSPi, distributed organizations can collaborate seamlessly, serve customers responsively and keep ahead of market changes.