Thoughts on Bloomberg's WAN Outage Caused by a Spilled Drink and SD-WAN

WAN outages can be more costly than they appearThis morning, Bloomberg terminals went down for about 2 and a half hours, caused by a WAN outage. Still no official explanation for the cause of the network outage yet, other than being network related, but there are already rumors suggesting it was caused by a spilled drink. Is that possible? Perhaps… But my guess is: probably not. Organizations with mission-critical applications (such as medical, financial, law-enforcement, etc.) usually pay extra attention to network designs that avoid single point of failure. It is hard to believe that you can knock off two points with a single human error.

In today’s outsourced managed services, however, organizations are putting their faith more and more on external resources to keep their networks running and that is not always the best option. Yes, most managed network services, especially the ones offered by large service providers include SLAs (Service Level Agreements). However, it is crucial to understand the scope of those SLAs (Service Level Agreement) and also their limitations. Because by definition a managed service that relies on a single service provider, is creating single points of failure, i.e. that single network provider.

I believe this is going to change, especially on the WAN (Wide Area Network) side of the corporate networks. With Software Defined WAN (SD-WAN) technologies, the IT industry is re-inventing how networks – and especially, how large and scalable networks – are designed, configured and managed. The concept of Software Defined Networking (SDN) has been around for a while and has already gotten off to a good start with data center applications. The benefits carry over into SD-WAN as well, where edge router appliances can be designed, configured and managed through a software interface. I would like to put emphasis on the term “design”, as that is the most novel part of SD-WAN. 

Configuration and management through a cloud portal is already a norm in networking, however, being able to design the network functions of a router, on the fly, as you need it, is fairly new. Imagine an appliance, that can be upgraded to the latest and greatest by simply pushing new network functions onto the device, through a simple, easy to use design interface. The IT manager, who intimately knows the service requirements of his/her organization, will be able to design a network function and direct traffic to that new network function, all through a software defined networking framework.

As an example, the IT manager will be able to draw up a network function diagram by dragging and dropping functional nodes to create special WAN overlays. In a few minutes, the IT manager can create a point-to-point tunnel from one of his data centers to a branch office, add his encryption of choice, bond multiple ISP links to avoid single point of failure and add real-time CBR optimization. This allows for the rapid creation of his IP tunnel with all the network monitoring nodes built-in for mission-critical real-time applications. This functionally highly complicated tunnel can be created and pushed to the Software Defined WAN Orchestration routers in a matter of minutes through the software-defined interface.

The ease and the power of such control over the WAN will make insourcing of certain services attractive. I believe there will also be a new wave of outsourced services, where the same SD-WAN architecture is provided to clients by service providers, but the service providers will need to start competing harder with the insourcing options.

At Mushroom Networks, we strongly believe in software-defined architectures and we believe all routers should gravitate towards similar design principles, so that networks can be easily designed to cope with network problems, so that a bottle of fluid can’t be blamed for more systematic WAN problems.

Cahit Akin, CEO, Mushroom Networks, Inc. 

Mushroom Networks is the provider of SD-WAN (Software Defined WAN) and NFV solutions capable of Broadband Bonding that enables self-healing WAN networks that route around network problems such as latency, jitter and packet loss.

https://www.mushroomnetworks.com

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