Reduce MPLS costs? You may wonder…”did I read that correctly”?  You did.  You can have a enterprise class WAN without MPLS, though connectivity to China is another story!  New technologies are changing the way that many companies provision their wide area networks.  WAN requirements are changing.  All companies have:

  • A continued need for more capacity
  • An increased demand for better resilience
  • Expectations of high network quality
  • Constant pressure to reduce costs.

SD-WAN – Intelligent Network Management

By using intelligently managed networks, SD-WAN, based on internet access circuits, networks can be managed in real time to provide the appropriate performance for all applications.  This is done by aggregating multiple internet links, applying policies, and intelligently routing traffic over the internet link, via VPN, that has the best performance.

What is remarkable is that the hardware measures the network performance every 20ms across all the internet links to measure packet loss, latency and jitter to make the decision on the best path.  From a resilience perspective, if a single internet link fails, traffic is routed to another link, without any disconnection of sessions…even VoIP calls.  This approach allows the use of low cost cable or Ethernet internet access, instead of more expensive dedicated MPLS networks.  It can also supplement an MPLS network with internet access circuits, to provide a high level of reliability and more data throughput.  For global networks, there will always be locations that require a private network such as MPLS of IEPL, such as China.

Protect from Failures without BGP delays

Traditional MPLS or VPLS networks are most likely to fail when there is a local loop failure.  This problem is eliminated with intelligently managed networks, unless the MPLS loop is part of the intelligent network, in which case the failure will not be noticed by users.  This was demonstrated during hurricane Sandy, for financial service companies that already had this technology in place. This is a big improvement over using BGP for MPLS network survivability.

MPLS and VPLS networks offer predictable behavior for traffic.  But they are vulnerable to the single point of failure that is the local loop.

Intelligently managed networks are:

  • More resilient
  • Service provide independent
  • Less expensive on a monthly fee basis
  • Aggregate bandwidth across all connections, even for a single data flow
  • Some offer 10 classes of service for data prioritization
  • Reliability of 99.999% using internet circuits

There are a variety of companies that are marketing one form or another of this technology, though the functional differences are many.  Riverbed, Silver Peak, FatPipe, Velocloud, Viptela and Talari Networks all have products.  While all of these companies provide redundancy of paths in case of a link failure, their feature sets all vary.

Some Unique Features Available with SD-WAN

  • A dynamic path feature that measures all links on a millisecond basis to direct traffic via the most appropriate path based on application performance requirements.
  • Measurement of one-way latency, jitter and packet-loss on every single application packet and flow, allowing fast and accurate path selection.
  • Sub-second failover for extremely fast path changes, which take place if link quality deteriorates or fails, without dropping sessions during path changes.  Other companies require a complete link failure to change paths.  This is a life-saver for VoIP and video calls, as well as interactive applications.
  • Packet deduplication – voice or video packets can be sent over two disparate paths, suppressing duplicates at the receiving end, to hide packet loss or delay.
  • Packet loss mitigation to retransmit lost packets, even when using UDP.
  • Load balancing for a single flow allows true bandwidth aggregation across varied WAN circuits.
  • Aggregrated links provide higher performance.  For companies that have smaller branch offices and use VoIP, using two competing cable internet providers will provide rock-solid performance and resiliency.

If  your company is looking for a solid wide area network, but you would like to avoid the high cost of an MPLS network, you should contact the experts at SD-WAN-Experts to learn more about how we can design, procure and implement your WAN, while controlling your budget.

Hybrid Networks: Selecting the Best Path for Any Application

SD-WAN and MPLS Networks: Will the Internet Be Your Next WAN?