WAN virtualization: Great idea, but which equipment?

If you haven't been looking at how WAN Virtualization can help optimize the price-performance of your network, you're probably missing a great opportunity.

If you haven't been looking at how WAN virtualization can help optimize the price-performance of your network, you're probably missing a great opportunity.

Virtualization, cloud to shape 2010 WAN trends

We recently sat down (virtually) for a "face-to-face" discussion with the two leading providers of WAN virtualization gear, and, in the format of a "Thought Leadership Discussion", had an in-depth discussion of where this fits in the network, the benefits that are provided, and how some of the more common challenges are addressed.

We're confident that in this and subsequent newsletters, you'll find these excerpts to be extremely helpful.

We began the discussion with some basic definitions and introductions. "WAN Virtualization is a term that commonly refers to the addition of hardware and/or software to enhance WAN performance by adding hardware and/or software to intelligently manage WAN connectivity services in order to provide extremely reliable and responsive service (as one might expect from an MPLS service) at a fraction of the price (as one might expect from an Internet-based service).

"Two companies - Ipanema Technologies and Talari Networks - are clearly the leaders in this market space. Both offer excellent products and provide a superb ROI. And even though the approaches vary somewhat, the end-game is the same.

"Since there are no industry-wide standards for interoperability, one or the other must be ultimately chosen for implementation."

So this forms the basis for our discussion. We posed a number of very direct questions to Keith Morris from Talari Networks and Thierry Grenot from Ipanema Technologies, and we definitely appreciate their responses that addressed a number of topics on which they both agree and disagree.

We'll begin with a "teaser" as we look at the question, "What sizes of companies will benefit most from your solution - and why?"

First Keith (Talari) replied, "WAN Virtualization technology is broadly applicable to almost any company with 5 locations or more, since over time all but perhaps the smallest companies need more bandwidth, are looking to reduce monthly costs and would like greater network reliability and application performance predictability.

"That said, we tend to focus right now on the Fortune 301 to 20,000 - i.e., those companies with 10 to 100 locations. This is our sweet spot at the moment. And the more international locations customers have, the more valuable the technology is, since WAN costs outside of North America are frequently much higher. Just as Riverbed and Peribit showed, when selling a two-ended WAN solution, you really need to prove yourself on the 10 to 20 site networks before deploying the 50 site networks before deploying 100 site networks, before you can think about doing multi-hundreds. The way you manage the solution today is really optimized around that 10 to 100 site size as well. Over time we'll add the additional scaling and especially management tools to make it easier to deploy multi-hundred site networks."

Thierry (Ipanema) basically agreed with Keith, pointing out, "Most companies can benefit by turning the Internet into a business network. Ipanema's HNU particularly targets large networks (from 30 up to 1,000+ sites), but smaller accounts are also accessible through managed services. Both domestic (e.g. retail) and international (e.g. industry) networks use it already."

Please note that this is actually a "living" discussion, and we cordially invite you to join in this Webtorials Thought Leadership Discussion.

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Virtualization, cloud to shape 2010 WAN trends

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