Do the failsafe
21 June 2018 | Atchison Frazer
Atchison Fraser from Talari explains how SD-WANs can makes VoIP apps dance and offer a host of benefits
If you really want to see VoIP (Voice-over-IP) and other real-time, business-critical UC (Unified Communications) apps dance, you need to go to the failsafe SD-WAN ball. But while SD-WANs are the flavour of the month, not all SD-WANs have rhythm. Most SD-WANs will save you money and provide greater bandwidth, but if you have applications that need to always perform at their best all the time, the failsafe element is critical.
Every IT administrator will know the applications that his or her business relies on and generate the most trouble tickets and complaints if they don’t work. These could range from billing or a Salesforce CRM system to Office 365 and video conferencing applications, whereby jitter or delays are at best irritating. It is these applications that need the platinum SD-WAN service. So, if the SD-WAN appliance has the ability to recognise an application based on its domain name or sub-domain name, this allows a network administrator to establish a special set of policies that then steer the application to a defined service.
In the case of Talari, the idea of enhanced application identification involves more than 100 pre-defined applications and also supports the addition of user-defined applications, all of which are assigned to a pre-defined application category, or users may configure additional application categories as required.
From an application-centric perspective, the network admin determines what applications should be steered out through the local Internet service and what application would be hair-pinned back to the data centre or NCN (network control node) site. The user can then define a specific application policy for the specific service, which could include and be applied to all SD-WAN sites or just a subset of sites depending on user and business needs.
Traditional QoS (Quality of Services) are applied for SD-WAN conduit or tunnel services, whereby the user can map an application to a pre-defined classification or select their own classification. With the added functionality of an application dashboard, IT operations admins can view the performance and health of critical applications, cumulative and live, with bandwidth usage by service.
The future state of application ID in a failsafe SD-WAN fabric will include cloud-based apps that extend app fluency beyond the branch or remote site to local Internet conduits that tunnel directly into the call cluster of, say, RingCentral cloud-voice to optimise WAN-edge connectivity and bandwidth, communications reliability and application QoE.
How SD-WAN benefits add up
Cost reduction has traditionally been the low-hanging fruit of SD-WAN benefits. Compared to sticking with a MPLS-only plan, SD-WAN is almost always more economical. Gartner estimates a 250-branch deployment would cost only one-third as much over three years as an MPLS one. However, the SD-WAN versus MPLS debate often leaves out the fact that simply re-negotiating an MPLS service contract can also lower WAN expenses. And as MPLS links are also integral to many SD-WANs, their elimination is not the central value proposition of an upgrade.
Aside from cost and resilience, other SD-WAN benefits include:
Configuring, monitoring and analysing an entire WAN is straightforward with an SD-WAN. By leaving behind the costly, inflexible architectures of standard WANs, it’s possible to realise a truly agile WAN that is dynamic and responsive to rapidly changing requirements and network conditions.
A better user experience for cloud apps
SaaS apps are staples of productivity, yet poorly supported by legacy WANs, which impose significant performance penalties when backhauling traffic through data centres. SD-WANs take a more streamlined approach, with only a single hop thanks to direct cloud connectivity, which means that end users see the benefits of improved usability.
The frequent need for additional bandwidth contributes to the high price tag of traditional WANs. In contrast, SD-WANs make the full aggregated bandwidth, regardless of the underlying transport types, available to critical applications such as videoconferencing and VoIP. MPLS, broadband, cellular and satellite links can all be incorporated into the SD-WAN mix to optimise performance as well as cost.
Remote and branch offices (RBO) often get left behind in the struggle to properly configure network services with awkward pre-configuration of devices and time-consuming on-site visits. In contrast, SD-WANs dramatically simplify RBO setup, allowing for easier expansions and updates across the entire organisation.
So make sure your dance card is filled with failsafe SD-WAN innovators like Talari and Managed Service Provider enablers who can help your apps pirouette to greater business agility and give you IT resilience for your edge network.
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