Why do we keep spare keys, spare tire or even have more than one eye, more than one ear etc? The answer is simple, humans and nature, like to spread our chances for things that are vital for survival. If humans had only one eye or one ear, the likelihood of surviving (going back to the cavemen times) would practically be reduced to zero in case of loosing the single sensory organ. When the cost of adding a spare or two is low, it is a no brainer to double up on tools. The cost of owning a spare key to your house or owning a spare tire for your car is relatively low compared to the additional utility and protection it offers. Same strategy applies to your enterprise IT infrastructure as well. Whenever it makes sense in terms of value vs cost, you need to combine and leverage more than one. We have seen this in enterprise storage with RAID, we have seen this file storage (document backup), compute resources (disaster recovery) and it is happening with WAN resources as well (WAN Load Balancing).
WAN links are the eyes and ears of today’s modern enterprises. If the Internet connectivity of an office is cut, the work flow comes to a halt. The dependency on WAN is primarily driven by the fact that enterprises are migrating their core services to the cloud and replacing their legacy on premise software solutions they had for many years. The shift of services onto the cloud introduces tremendous pressure on the WAN links – and enterprises with single WAN pipe will have too much exposure with one WAN pipe. WAN load balancing is the solution to address this unnecessary risk.
So what is WAN load balancing? In essence, it is quite similar to your second eye, or second ear providing you with additional capabilities (such as perceiving depth, perceiving direction from sounds coming behind etc). Additional WAN line not only doubles as a fall back option (if the first WAN fails, you still have the second WAN link), but modern WAN load balancers actually aggregate the WAN links to create a much better performing IP tunnel. Packet level WAN load balancing can create the WAN connectivity that can otherwise not be provided by no single Internet Service Provide. Almost by definition, WAN load balancing will get rid of the dependency on a single ISP.
Let’s go over a practical enterprise deployment scenario where the branch offices are migrating from an expensive MPLS WAN connectivity to a WAN architecture that is based on Broadband Bonding, where broadband lines such as DSL and cable (perhaps even backup lines with 4G LTE) is providing the IP connectivity for their branch offices. The WAN load balancing approach will provide ISP diversity, bonded speeds of the links and an unmatched reliability. Not to mention the heavy savings from the operating expenditure on their Internet connectivity. Usually the WAN Load Balancer investment is recovered in a few months through their savings on bandwidth cost.
With the accelerated move towards service frameworks based on public or private clouds and data-centers, enterprises can’t afford to not have a WAN load balancing strategy. The tremendous lowered WAN downtime risk, improved Internet connectivity performance and the reduced bandwidth cost makes WAN load balancing as vital as our eyes and ears.
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.