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Enforcing Application SLAs over Hybrid Networks

In the world of IT, we drive toward operational consistency for greater efficiency and improved security. If everything runs the same across all our locations, it’s much easier to train staff and manage the network. However, operational consistency may not provide the flexibility IT needs to keep up with ever changing business priorities that require IT to open offices or roll out new applications faster. For example, if a business wants to open a new office in a developing region, standard carrier services like MPLS can take months to provision, and cripple productivity unless alternative services can be quickly deployed. Likewise, IT may need to suspend services like guest WiFi if they are unable to protect mission-critical applications.

Cisco Intelligent WAN (IWAN) is a solution that gives IT flexibility and control so they can quickly respond to new business requirements immediately. For example, IWAN allows IT the choice to run a hybrid network environment with consistent and easy-to-scale security, while providing IT control and automation capabilities to ensure the highest quality application experience for their users.

Many customers are looking to augment their network with Internet in their enterprise WAN, primarily because it is a lower cost transport that can be rolled out quickly.  But without a guaranteed service level agreement (SLA), it raises many concerns: “What about the variations in Internet performance?” and  “How can the networking tools available today easily solve this challenge?”

With IWAN, customers gain transport independence through DMVPN and IPSec technologies, which create a consistent secure and reliable link to all branch sites. It simplifies the routing and security configuration, maintains IP connectivity and allows QoS mechanism to prioritize the available bandwidth.  As opposed to other WAN transport technologies which require a deeper integration with specific carrier networks such as sharing of a Routing AS or lack of visibility into the Service Providers network.

The IWAN solution provides tools to actively monitors the status of all connections and leverages our WAN path control using Performance Routing (PfR), if there is any variation in performance on any line – MPLS, Internet, cellular – it can automatically re-route priority and/or mission critical applications so the user is not impacted. For example, when there is an increase in delay, latency or other “brown out” scenarios between a datacenter and branch, PfR can automatically react to address the needs of applications sensitive to these factors.

In the video demonstration below, you can see the power of PfR. When congestion is introduced on the primarily line, PfR automatically detects the primary line can no longer meet the video call SLA and re-routes traffic to the secondary line. To the user, they may see a momentary change in video quality, too brief to even make a call to the help desk.  IT staff can see the impacted line, and quickly troubleshoot the issue so that both lines can once again maintain the optimal link utilization through intelligent load balancing across available links between the branch and datacenter.

PfR gives the IWAN solution the application “intelligence” at the network level to actively monitor all WAN links within the PfR domain and provide a higher level of SLA’s for mission critical applications.  So, if the primarily line is down, it will ensure adequate bandwidth is reserved for the most critical traffic. This allows IT to run new services like guest WiFi but maintain application SLAs on the most critical business applications – making it much easier for IT to say “yes” to the business.

Look out for my next blog where I provide helpful tips on configuring PfR across your network. To learn more about IWAN, visit www.cisco.com/go/iwan

 

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