Enterprises, small and large, depend heavily on the performance of their applications that run over their WAN networks. When your company relies on applications and services that run over the Internet (and which company doesn’t these days?), then managing WAN performance may be the single most important IT project that guarantees to pay dividends. This is true whether you are a small single office business, or you are a multi-national enterprise with thousands of branch offices. The fact is that many business applications run in public or private clouds and are delivered to the users over their WAN (Wide Area Network) connection to the cloud. That’s why managing WAN performance is business critical for any size corporation.
Even though the importance of the WAN performance is universal, the requirements of the WAN can vary. Every business has different applications, some core, some supporting, that require different characteristics and behaviors from their network. A few weeks back, we discussed about 15 different industries that require reliability from the WANs. Similarly, in another post, we discussed companies that require large bandwidth for large file transfers.
Depending on your company profile, you may be using various services that run over the Internet. Some of these applications will require higher bandwidth, some of them may require extreme reliability, some of them may require certain elasticity from your static IPs, some of them may require features that depend on the time of day, while others may require a behavior based on the instantaneous cross-traffic profile. In other words, every company’s WAN performance requirements are unique. That’s why it is important to understand the requirements and SLAs (Service Level Agreements) of your WAN connectivity, in order to succeed in managing WAN performance that optimizes end user experience, for all of your users, all of the time.
Let’s explain this concept with an example: imagine a multi-national corporation that has many offices including ones that are distributed in various countries. Their design teams synchronize their design files overnight (high bandwidth requirement) and they hold meetings between their design offices that are located all over the globe. They communicate via video conferencing and also do desktop sharing during their meetings. A meeting might be taking place at the end of the work day for their US office (because of the time differences with their overseas offices) and therefore takes place at 5 pm local time. It turns out this is the exact same time that their supplementary cable modem starts to choke and starts adding jitter and latency into the network. This was causing their video conferencing calls to suffer (freeze, pause, etc.) and practically become unusable.
Before anyone jumped on a solution, it was critical to diagnose the problem correctly. Rather than blindly throwing general purpose QoS (Quality of Service) rules into their legacy routers, a more customized solution was what the “doctor” ordered this time.
It is extremely important to assess the requirements of the WAN network correctly, so that the correct prescription can be applied. In this case, the video conferencing application was suffering from low bandwidth when directed over their MPLS line (no matter how high their SLAs or how tight their QoS) and was also suffering from jitter and latency. If put on their cable line, on the other hand, they were suffering from the latency and jitter that starts at a specific time of day. According to the ISP, the reason for this deterioration of performance was a mystery. (Did someone say “over-provisioning”?).
Once the problem was identified, now the issue can be resolved with a “genetically-engineered” drug which involves Software Defined WAN Orchestration that can be easily customized to fit the bill. In this case, the SDWAN appliance was configured to implement a special Video Conferencing tunnel that adapts to latency and jitter variations, to work around network problems. This enabled the business to have flawless video conferencing service that worked all the time, any time.
Managing your WAN performance is like being a doctor. You have to diagnose the illness with precision prior to implementing any cure. With the advent of SD-WAN, we are entering an era where custom solutions will be easily configured per “patient”. Through SD-WAN, a custom solution that fits the specific WAN problems can be delivered with precision and with low cost.
We have been hearing of “genetically engineered personalized drugs” for a while from the health industry. For the luckier IT industry, similarly customized WAN performance management drugs are already here curing patients.
Cahit Akin, CEO, Mushroom Networks, Inc.
Mushroom Networks is the provider of Software Defined WAN solutions capable of Broadband Bonding that enables self-healing WAN networks that route around network problems such as latency, jitter and packet loss.