Should You Migrate Your 2 Routers & 2 ISPs to Multi-WAN Router Setup?
Sometimes for one reason or another, your organization may have inherited an office network setup that has two separate routers and two separate ISP connections, servicing the same Local Area Network (LAN). The original motivation might have been related to segregating the two user groups or two traffic types for security or performance reasons. Or the reason behind the 2 parallel networks may have been originally driven by obtaining a fail-over network option, in case the main network fails. No matter what your reasons, if you are fed up with having to manage 2 or more networks and therefore inheriting twice or more of the overhead, potential technical issues and risks, this article is for you — read on.
There is no doubt, relying on a single point of failure, especially when it comes to the ISP connectivity, is no longer within acceptable SLA and reliability requirements for any serious organization. Prior to modern Broadband Bonding router technologies, IT administrators were forced to create their own manual solution, where they stitch together two separate networks, each with its individual ISP connection, static IPs, firewall and firewall rules. These two networks then can be either completely isolated on different physical LANs, or can be directed onto the two separate WAN links via targeting the two routers as two separate gateways for the associated local networks. A better separation of local network traffic is possible via utilizing different local subnets (the logical, visible subdivision of an IP network), or by leveraging VLAN tagging to logically separate the traffic of the two user groups.
The problem still remains, however, as failure of one of the WAN routers will bring down the user group that is using that router as a gateway. One can identify secondary, fail-over gateways for users, so that they can look for the second gateway. However, this quickly becomes an end device management nightmare as the fail-over must be configured on each and every end device (laptops to tablets to servers). Of course, even if this major task is not scary enough for you to look for better solutions, you would still have to live with the fact that your 2 separate WAN connections will always be underutilized as there is no way for one network to “borrow” or “spill-over” to the secondary WAN resource.
Fortunately, there is a cleaner and more streamlined approach that tens of thousands of organizations have discovered and it is available to you as well. And that’s the Broadband Bonding multi-WAN routers. Broadband Bonding is essentially melding the two routers/firewall you had, into a single device that does all the messy, yet mandatory functions of combining the two WAN resources together automatically. You simply plug in your WAN connections into the multi-WAN router and then plug the router into your LAN network. You can still segregate your LAN traffic into logical segments, however this time all the fail-over, interface-binding or many other useful features are all done via a graphical user-interface (or CLI if you prefer). With the multi-WAN single router approach, you combine together 2 or more WAN resources into a single pool of throughput that can be leveraged by both of your separate user groups. Not only that, but you can implement more sophisticated functionalities with ease.
As an example, you can create simple rules for certain traffic types to inherit various characteristics of your WAN links selectively. Say you want your chatty traffic to inherit the lowest latency of the WAN links, at all times. Then you simply route the traffic onto the specific overlay bonding tunnel that optimizes for lowest latency. Many other sophisticated functions are possible to combine the best of both worlds, say the lowest latency of your links, with the higher throughput of your total bandwidth available from all of your ISP links.
If you inherited a dual network setup with 2 ISPs, 2 routers and twice the overhead and potential technical issues, it may be time to migrate to a multi-WAN Broadband Bonding solution to put your network on autopilot.
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.