The proliferation of cloud computing and Virtual Private Network (VPN) technology over the past few years has had some dramatic effects on networking, both in our personal and professional lives. But while adoption of these technologies has been increasing steadily in our homes, as well as in smaller organisations, Enterprise WAN has been slow to cotton on. However, with an increasing number of applications being provided via network service, a Next-generation Enterprise WAN Network is emerging to cater to the demands of the as-a-service methodology. In this blog, we’ll take a look at some of the arguments for the need for next-generation WAN network technology and what the WAN network of the future might look like.
What makes a new Enterprise WAN architecture necessary?
Historically, the two most commonly used connectivity options for private WAN networks are Carrier Ethernet and Multiprotocol Layer Switching (MPLS). The need for a new enterprise WAN architecture is partially due to the limitations of these existing technologies, but also because of several new technologies that bring new possibilities to the Enterprise WAN network.
- WAN Virtualisation
WAN virtualisation makes it possible to replace or augment physical private WAN links with multiple WAN links – including existing WANs such as MPLS as well as any Internet WAN links. An easy way to understand what WAN virtualisation does (as this Network World article points out) is to draw an analogy to what RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks) did for hard drive storage: essentially, RAID packages several cheap hard disks with a layer of hardware and software to deliver storage that is cheaper, more reliable and has a larger capacity. Similarly, WAN virtualisation combines several connections, including internet connections of varying degrees of quality, combined with a layer of hardware and software intelligence to deliver more affordable, more reliable and higher bandwidth WAN links.
- Data Centre Consolidation and Colocation
Even though data centre consolidation gained popularity due to the benefits it provides to computing and operational expenses, the trend towards consolidated data centres and colocation has had significant impact on the performance and running costs of Enterprise WAN networks. Today, colocation facilities are known for being popular facilities for public cloud service providers. For large organisations, the CAPEX (Capital Expenditure) that comes with the construction and maintenance of a large server facility can quickly get out of hand, and colocation services allow CTOs to mitigate the majority of the cost and risk associated with an in-house server solution. Depending on the size and requirements of your WAN network, you should consider opting for multi-tenant colocation facilities (Facilities in which several companies can rent space) or wholesale data centre facilities that offer more robust, dedicated services. Bear in mind, though, that you should understand Service Level Agreements (SLAs) thoroughly to avoid hidden fees or conditions.
- Distributed File Systems (DFS)
Distributed File Systems (DFS) have become commonplace in both professional and personal spaces. The technology that DFSs are based on has existed for a while, but it’s only since bandwidth has become more feasible and available that they’ve stepped into the limelight. Simply put, DFS makes it possible for a user to access data stored on a server as if it was stored on their local computer. Microsoft’s DFS Replication, Sun Microsystems’ NFS and Novell’s Netware are some of the most well-known DFSs, along with Google Drive and Dropbox in the public realm.
What does this mean for the future of the WAN Network?
So where does that leave us as to what the WAN network of the future will look like? Ultimately, we’re moving away from static networks that rely on physical links over expensive, in-house infrastructure and towards a distributed, agile methodology that leverages the power of Internet broadband and cloud technology.
To find out more about how you can bring new levels of efficiency to your WAN architecture while saving on costs, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
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Image credit: Ambey Group