Hybrid WANS Make Traditional Networking Obsolete

December 30, 2016

By Tracey E. Schelmetic, SD-WAN Contributor

Traditional networking gear presents a number of limitations to network administrators. In most cases, it was designed to operate at the packet level. This meant that overburdened network admins have had to wrestle with low-level routing protocols just to keep their WAN going. Today, more network admins are using hybrid WANs, which consist of direct Internet access and cloud apps, and these solutions are rendering traditional networking methods obsolete.

In a recent white paper, CloudGenix outlined why network administrators should be paying attention to the cost-performance advantages of broadband Internet and 4G/LTE (News - Alert) wireless links. The company also notes that while combining them with MPLS into a hybrid WAN has compelling cost advantages, management of these networks is a complicated prospect. Packet-level routing protocols don’t do a very good job at coping with the complexity involved in assuring application performance and security. For this reason, network managers should be looking into the benefits of software-defined WAN (SDWAN).

SD-WAN solutions designed to handle hybrid WANs can be deployed at each branch and registered with a central controller where application policies are defined.

“The distributed ‘data-plane’, combined with a centralized ‘control-plane’ form a secure, application-defined fabric,” according to the white paper. “It completely eliminates the need for packet-level routing protocols (BGP, VRFs, IPSLAs, PfR, etc.), shielding you from the complexities of underlying transports, and letting you focus on application-level policies and SLAs.”

With this approach, network administrators have a better set of tools to meet applications performance SLAs. These solutions can automatically recognize application and rich media sessions, and measure true application response time. Based on centrally defined policies, each node takes the necessary actions, including automatic path selection, traffic shaping, or active-active load balancing between links. Controllers can provide network admins with full visibility into their applications response times, across all their WAN links.

“With hybrid WANs, some of your sensitive corporate traffic traverses the public Internet,” according to the white paper. “Plus, many branches might have direct Internet access (DIA).”

To protect your WAN, solutions such as those offered by CloudGenix feature nodes that have built-in app-level firewalls. They enforce centrally defined security policies and can redirect (or project) traffic to the closest by security service node. All that is done without complex configurations, or extra gear at branches.

Hybrid WAN solutions can help revolutionize networking, transforming packet-routed networks into application defined fabrics. Managing applications performance becomes simple, cost-effective and secure.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi