By Paul Mason | Equinix | 

When it comes to wide area networks (WANs), enterprises face the challenge of balancing high-availability, performance and costs. Take a retailer with hundreds of locations: Deploying a redundant pair of MPLS connections to each store will provide high availability, but it is a costly solution. The retailer may explore running the links in an active/active fashion to help justify the costs, but the complexity associated with deploying and managing multiple networks increases the operational costs and may end up lowering the overall availability. And deploying enterprise-grade Internet to each branch as a back-up to the primary MPLS link can lower costs, but it opens up security concerns requiring additional policy and hardware.

Enterprises have cycled through the classic network mechanisms: route maps and filters, access control lists and border gateway protocol (BGP) traffic engineering. They’ve also tried advanced features, such as policy-based routing, virtual chassis and scripting. But the outcome is the same: The enterprise is left paying for bandwidth it can’t fully utilize.

Enterprises have long accepted this as the WAN status quo, but the major disruption of cloud services (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS) is putting new demands on the enterprise WAN. Mission-critical apps are moving out of the enterprise data center, but still require the reliability and security delivered by the WAN. However, backhauling traffic to the corporate data center to apply security policy before heading to the cloud adds latency, and users’ quality of experience suffers.

Software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) has the potential to change this whole paradigm. SD-WAN solutions from ViptelaVelocloud and CloudGenix are challenging Cisco’s Intelligent WAN in a fight to solve the WAN dilemma. While each vendor offers its own flavors of SD-WAN, they share a common architecture of a policy-driven controller, coupled with an automatic secure overlay between the edge devices deployed at each branch. SD-WAN has the ability to reduce the complexity of deploying policy across multiple WAN circuits. Once connected, SD-WAN also allows the enterprise to load-balance applications in an active/active fashion on different links based on performance, security or cost polices. The enterprise gains more control of its traffic by moving from clunky command line configurations to a powerful SD-WAN policy controller.

Enter the Home of the Interconnected Cloud

By realizing the network and cloud connectivity options within Equinix .. (continue reading at

About the Author: 

Paul Mason

Paul Mason is a Global Solutions Architect with 8+ years of networking background. He helps enterprises challenge the classic networking constructs in the new world of cloud.