Growing Your WAN to Meet the Demands of the Modern Workplace

By Greg BryanMay 24, 2017


As a WAN manager, how do you ensure your business has an available, reliable, and secure network when the nature of the workplace is always changing?

During our most recent WAN Summit New York, a panel of telecom veterans discussed this delicate balance, covering the evolving nature of monitoring, SD-WAN, cloud and software-based services, security, emerging managed services, and much more.

Panelists exchanged ideas about how they’ll not just enable the WAN of the present, but of the future.

Aryaka Networks VP of Business Development Dave Nuti summed up the challenge quite nicely: “People have to develop different sets of requirements for public and private WAN. You’re supposed to integrate them, be as agile as you can be—regardless of application origin, regardless of the type of user that wants to connect. There are arguments for all types of connections...The question is how do you blend and put them together in a model that gets you everywhere you need to go in the speed you need to get there?”

“Some applications demand to be sent over a high-quality, low-latency link like MPLS and some don’t."

Panelists agreed that applications are now at the center of the conversation.

“Some applications demand to be sent over a high-quality, low-latency link like MPLS and some don’t,” said Cato Networks’ Sean McCarthy.

As Leosat Enterprises’ Ronald van der Breggan sees it, SD-WAN provides an opportunity to mix and match technologies, from MPLS to internet broadband, wireless, and satellite.

And throwing bandwidth at problems isn't enough. According to Windstream’s Head of Product Management Yulia Duryea, WAN managers must to know what type of application they’re dealing with, how far the users are from the origin, etc. Duryea advised that it's critical that WAN managers understand their network—its elements, traffic flow, when contracts expire—before they set their goals. “It’s a holistic approach, not just about the network, it’s also the service. You have to work out how your data, voice and security will tie into a solution,” she said.

WAN managers should be looking to suppliers to deliver real-time stats so they’re always able to scale in real time.

Panelists also emphasized the importance of information quality. As Nuti pointed out, enterprises want to be agile, adapt and scale quickly, and the decisions that allow for this are only as good as the data on which they are based.

Networks are evolving, applications are leaving the data center; security and latency are becoming more important and network decisions will become more dependent on big data. It’s straightforward enough to generate a profile for how much bandwidth a particular user group is likely to need, so WAN managers should be looking to suppliers to deliver real-time stats so they’re always able to scale in real time.

Windstream’s Duryea also said that, in her experience, there’s been a lot of hype around SD-WAN, but the much-vaunted zero-touch provisioning that goes with it remains elusive. “SD-WAN allows you to expand the types of access, but someone has to manage that, and it’s a job in itself,” she said.

SD-WAN means you need to integrate security from the outset, and that entails capital expense and manpower, added McCarthy. “If you’re a 300-location company, you’ll get a great offer from a last mile provider,” he said. “But how many would not be terrified at rolling out 300 firewalls as well because they’re exposing all their sites to the internet?”

Discussion Takeaways

  • Applications are center-stage, not telecoms. It’s about solving problems, not what products you use
  • SD-WAN allows you to expand the types of access you use, but it still needs to be managed
  • Choose your connectivity according to business requirements, don’t just throw bandwidth at a problem


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Greg Bryan

Greg Bryan

Greg is Senior Manager, Enterprise Research at TeleGeography. He's spent the last decade and a half at TeleGeography developing many of our pricing products and reports about enterprise networks. He is a frequent speaker at conferences about corporate wide area networks and enterprise telecom services. He also hosts the WAN Manager Podcast.

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