Wide area network (WAN) decision-making today generally centers on Internet Protocol (IP)-based services. But many organizations are still running older networking services in various parts of the enterprise, limiting their ability to take advantage of new intelligent features and applications.
IP services provide a rich and automated feature set that has been widely deployed and which enable automation and business agility. Among the key enterprise benefits:
- Flexibility to forward traffic directly among any of your MPLS VPN-connected sites
- Revolutionary programmability with software-defined networking (SDN) over IP
- With IP-over-Ethernet in the last mile you can easily increase or decrease access speeds
- IP-based cellular links can provide a primary or a backup last-mile link
Still, if you bring on new IP network components and fail to sweep out dated, non-IP technology, you’re limiting your organization’s potential and possibly creating unseen bottlenecks.
Even if you’re utilizing IP for MPLS VPN in the core WAN, it’s quite possible you’re still utilizing services based on Time Division Multiplexing (TDM), such as T1, T3 or fractional T1/T3, somewhere in the access networks that connect sites to the VPN backbone.
Beginning in the 1990s, many enterprises migrated to frame relay services that made it possible to set up virtual networks over public carrier services, rather than maintaining costly private lines for crucial data links. But frame relay can’t deliver the flexibility and capability of IP network services.
Layer 2 limitations
Frame relay is a Layer 2 packet-switched service that enables automatic mesh
Connectivity among sites, but it relies on TDM in the physical, Layer 1 access network, and depends on mapping to hardware addresses to ensure data gets to where it needs to go.
If you want to implement changes in network speeds, for example, it’s going to require line card changes. Also, if you’re still using frame relay in the core it means that intelligent routing services such as Quality of Service (QoS), traffic shaping and security are not available site to site.
IP networks are today’s de facto standard for Layer 3 networking. Combining data and voice networks into an all IP solution provides greater bandwidth utilization, improved network efficiencies and lays the foundation for application services and network provisioning that will enable the different parts of your business to operate seamlessly together.
Do you know what’s in your WAN closet?
To get there you first have to have a complete understanding of what is in your network today. So take time to make a detailed inventory of all network services in use to identify any analog, circuit-switched and frame relay services that are still operational.
Then, develop a plan to transition non-IP services so you can take advantage of the flexibility and automation that IP networks enable and position your organization to benefit as more and more software-defined networking benefits become available. For more information, read our white paper on getting more from your WAN. For market research on how other businesses are using their WAN technology go here. See how AT&T can help you respond quickly to the changing needs of your network.