Meeting enterprise network demands with hybrid WANs


Frost & Sullivan recently declared that the “enterprise wide area networking (WAN) space is going through a major transformation”.

As any enterprise IT and networking executive well knows, voice video and data are continuing to drive WAN demand, but there are even more challenging applications coming to the fore. As Frost & Sullivan notes, “the growing penetration of cloud computing, big data applications, and mobility applications are dictating new requirements on the enterprise.”

So what’s needed to relieve pressure on the corporate network? According to the report, a hybrid VPN approach that leverages the best of Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) VPNs and public internet-based IPSec VPNs is the direction enterprises are moving in or at least evaluating.

Private MPLS VPNs enable enterprises to tap into the infrastructure of carriers such as AT&T and enjoy the benefits of a private WAN without having to create their own infrastructure. They “never touch” the public internet and allow for optimized, point-to-point traffic routing and class of service (CoS) prioritization. That’s what enables carriers to deliver “five 9s” of service.

Combining cost-effective options

Still, it’s not particularly cost effective to provision MPLS for less critical operations, such as low data volume remote offices and employees’ home offices. The public internet is widely available, efficient for a good deal of the data traffic enterprises manage, and very cost-effective.

“A hybrid WAN allows enterprises to keep mission-critical applications (for example, ERP hosted in a private data center) on MPLS, while low priority applications (for example, access to public cloud applications) run on Internet-based VPNs,” says Frost & Sullivan.

Combining private and public network services provides efficient shared access to multiple locations and to gain maximum flexibility and cost-effectiveness from WAN investments. Hybrid VPNs provide a virtually seamless path to leverage the security and predictability of MPLS with the value of IPsec for efficient and on-demand network utilization to run new applications such as retail and big data analytics, provide business continuity for both individual workers and office locations, and allocate bandwidth to voice and video as needed.

MPLS enhanced with SDN and NFV

Even more intriguing, though, are the efficiencies and capabilities that Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualiazation (NFV) bring to the WAN.

A recent survey conducted for AT&T found that 68 percent of respondents at companies with 1,000 of more workers are currently using MPLS. Traditionally, updating and modernizing enterprise WANs has been an expensive and time-consuming process that is dependent on a vendor’s ability to physically update proprietary hardware and system software.

SDN and NFV make it possible to virtualize the WAN in much the same manner as other data center infrastructure. Off-the-shelf hardware can be remotely provisioned and repurposed centrally, with network functions being implemented in software instead of hardware.

The Frost & Sullivan report evaluates the value of hybrid WANs and the benefits of MPLS VPNs that incorporate SDN. It also discusses “the need for integrating mobility and security in enterprise hybrid WAN strategy, and how a managed solution approach can fast-track your journey to a hybrid WAN.” To access the report, please visit https://www.business.att.com/content/whitepaper/frost-sullivan-hybrid-wan-executive-brief.pdf. To find out more about the broad range of solutions we offer, click on http://resources.att.com/ip-networking or go to https://www.business.att.com.

Join AT&T and Frost & Sullivan as we discuss how Network Function Virtualization (NFV) will help change that network model by simplifying your WAN deployment and management functions.

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