At Interop our interest was piqued by a new managed service from Hughes Network Systems that we see as a harbinger of services to come. Using home-grown software installed in a DSL modem, Hughes bonds (i.e. inverse multiplexes) up to four DSL lines to deliver a maximum of 12 Mb of bandwidth to distributed branch offices. Hughes touts performance comparable to Ethernet without the accompanying price tag, thus positioning itself to unseat incumbent MPLS providers.
Hughes plans to expand the service to inverse multiplex cable connections, although Ricardo Belmar, Hughes' Director of Vertical Market Solutions, tells us that cable is a lesser priority because Hughes' enterprise customers are not as well served by cable as by DSL. Hughes' new service, which it calls High-Capacity IP Access with Hughes ActiveBonding(TM), is a good fit for the hub-and-spoke networks common in the markets Hughes serves, e.g., the retail, restaurant, grocery, hospitality, utility, and lottery industries. The solution is dual ended, with the hub end at a corporate data center or in the cloud.
Hughes' proprietary solution is rudimentary compared to WAN virtualization products from Talari or Mushroom Networks. Talari and Mushroom Networks can meld multiple underlying network connection types including DSL, Cable, and 3G/4G mobile into a single virtual connection for better performance and resilience, higher bandwidth, and/or lower cost. Other service providers are offering simple virtual WAN services, including Managed Communications, Evolving Networks, Torix Managed Services and others in the UK--and CenturyLink is rumored to be working on a similar service in iin the US.
We predict that managed services of this ilk, combining multiple connections from one or more service providers to create a single, faster, more robust virtual connection will become commonplace--especially as enterprises increasingly rely on mission-critical applications in the cloud that must always be available and perform well.