WAN evolution has been on the mind of IT leaders for decades. Historically though, network managers seemed comfortable to just “talk the talk” when it came to actually moving away from a traditional hub and spoke, MPLS based network.
The problem statement seems to be fairly well understood. Traditional WANs are expensive to run, offer little in the way of flexibility, are hard to secure and network managers typically have little visibility into the types of applications and traffic patterns that traverse the network. So, why haven’t more organizations evolved from a legacy network to something more current, like an Internet based WAN?
The answer lies in the expression “better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.” Despite all the pain, the high cost and the static nature of traditional networks, they’re what we know. Whenever I talk to a network manager about the topic, interest is high, but so is the skepticism about whether an Internet based WAN could really support a businesses needs. This is why so few of us want to be like Captain Kirk and “boldly go where no WAN manager has gone before”.
However, times are changing and shifting to a more modern WAN is now a businesses imperative. Digital transformation is well underway and the network needs to mirror the business better. It needs to be dynamic and agile be able to scale up and down quickly based on the needs of the organization. Moving away from a legacy WAN used to be a “nice to have,” but now it’s becoming a “must have.”
Silver Peak on Monday announced its vision for augmenting or completely replacing MPLS based networks with a business grade broadband based WAN (also known as a software defined WAN). Silver Peak also announced a new product, called Unity EdgeConnect, to enable enterprises to make the shift to a broadband WAN easily and risk free. Unity allows Silver Peak customers to realize the cost benefits of the public Internet and delivered the solution in a product that enables fast, automated setup and has the ability to make the Internet perform more like MPLS or other private networking technologies.
Unity EdgeConnect is deployed as a physical or virtual appliance that creates a network connection that is a virtual overlay, so customers do not need to replace the current routers or firewalls. The non-disruptive nature of the product lets customers migrate to a broadband WAN at a pace that’s comfortable to them. Also, Unity EdgeConnect is carrier agnostic, so it works with any kind of network connection such as cable, DSL or LTE so businesses can leverage the best local network connection while keeping costs down. Network connections can be dynamically extended, moved or changed where and when the business wants.
Deployment of the product was designed to be “zero-touch” meaning it can be deployed in the branch office in seconds and then automatically connect with other Silver Peak instances in the data center, other branches or even in the cloud with providers such as Amazon, Microsoft Azure and VMware’s vCloud Air. Other key features of EdgeConnect are:
- Dynamic Path Control to enable real time protection against failures or brownouts.
- WAN hardening, which secures the edge-to-edge data via 256-bit AES encrypted tunnels.
- Path conditioning to overcome the adverse impacts of dropped or out of order packets, a common problem with Internet and MPLS connections.
- Cloud intelligence to deliver real-time updates on the best performing path to reach hundreds of SaaS providers.
In addition to EdgeConnect, Silver Peak announced its “Unity Orchestrator” to provide customers with a high level of visibility into both legacy and cloud applications. The product also gives customers the ability to centrally assign business intent policies and to secure and control all WAN traffic.
Also, as part of this launch, Silver Peak offers an optional, on demand service called “Unity Boost” that accelerates application performance on an as-needed basis. Customers just need to click the mouse to subscribe to it. Boost has two key features. The first is latency mitigation to improve application response time across the WAN. The second is data reduction capabilities to compress and de-duplicate all traffic, which eliminates repetitive transmission of duplicated data.
Pricing for EdgeConnect starts at $199 per site, per month, but includes Unity Orchestrator. Unity Boost is optional, but at a price point of $5 per Mbps/month, it certainly seems like an option most customers should take.
The hype around SD-WANs are at an all time high with many customers scared to pull the trigger because of the unknown. Silver Peak’s Unity Suite enables any organization to build a cost effective, secure overlay network that doesn’t disrupt the business. Now organizations can leverage low cost connectivity but still enjoy performance that is as good or better than traditional networks.