Disruptive tech drives optimisation
Network optimisation resolves issues by improving end-user performance under demanding conditions.
As businesses move more of their applications and services to the cloud, they experience a drop in end-user experience due to higher latency. A similar problem exists at WAN level, where global companies centralise application delivery and experience application access problems at remote branches.
As global cloud infrastructures and software as a service models begin to dominate, this is catalysing the revival of network optimisation.
User experience has become the key issue for companies to resolve; more so than costs. A crucial part of this is accessing applications quickly. However, with today's applications and services being fuelled by multiple and varied data sources, achieving the speeds that today's users need is a big challenge.
Network optimisation helps resolve these issues by improving the end-user performance under these demanding conditions.
Optimisation to the rescue
Optimisation has been used for many years in company WANs to address high bandwidth costs using compression, application performance through QOS and application acceleration, and other methods like caching and de-duplication.
Today, it includes a new range of technologies that support the cloud environment far more effectively than ones like MPLS: network orchestration, link bonding, path selection and application-based QOS.
Adopting a software-defined WAN can also benefit companies by saving money and improving network performance. The SD-WAN is also a private network - the difference is the company is centrally controlling the configuration and routing of the network through what is most often know as an orchestration engine. SD-WAN allows companies to deploy and manage WAN faster and more economically than before. Optimisation runs in much the same way it would in a WAN.
SD-WAN is generally associated with an ability to use the WAN and Internet together, or use the Internet as a basis for creating a WAN. This is considerably cheaper and almost as effective in terms of delivery. In this scenario, SD-WAN effectively replaces optimisation, offering similar benefits like network orchestration, link bonding, path selection, application-based QOS and, in most cases, some form of optimisation itself.
Presenting new challenges
The increasing use of the cloud is a factor for both the WAN and the SD-WAN, depending on how far users are from the initial delivery point of the cloud applications they are accessing.
Hybrid networking is clearly the best option for most companies.
For example, the London users of a global company headquartered in London, which deploys its applications into a cloud that is also hosted in London, will enjoy the performance they need. However, users in countries like Brazil, Australia, South Africa, China and similar will struggle with application performance because of the degrading effect of network latency (due to distance). In these cases, companies would benefit from optimisation, as it would improve the application responsiveness for remote branches.
Optimised hybrid network
There is understandably a clear trend in companies looking for alternatives to services like MPLS, because they are costly and don't integrate well with cloud-based services.
Companies need to start evaluating technologies in the SD-WAN space if they are to look at cloud as a strategy. The hybrid network is the most relevant design today. It marries Internet and cloud with historical MPLS networks, enabled by SD WAN overlay solutions. Leveraging these technologies will support cloud strategies and help companies reduce their reliance on an MPLS network.
In fact, hybrid networking is clearly the best option for most companies. To implement it, they need to identify a strong SD-WAN service that allows them to join their Internet and MPLS networks.
The benefits of this are clear and numerous: fast cloud access, reduced reliance on MPLS, lower costs, more bandwidth and flexibility, better network availability, better application performance and better network transparency.
To realise these benefits, the real considerations are around cloud adoption and application centralisation. Most companies underestimate the impact of making these changes, leading to greater problems in trying to resolve them with traditional WAN design. Either way, before companies make decisions in the hybrid networking space, they will always benefit from expert advice.
Stuart Hardy is business development director of EOH Global Networks Division UK. Hardy has spent 20 years in the South African telecommunications market working at executive level in and with South African telecoms companies. He is responsible for developing EOHâs global network and for driving global application and global WAN optimisation for EOH out of the UK.