For the last 3 weeks, my colleagues have written on the topic of IWAN and its various components. Ido wrote about the basics (and more) about IWAN, Kiran on how to get twice the bandwidth with PfR, and Hector on how Glue Networks improves the IWAN experience for IT. As the name suggests, the ‘WAN’ in Intelligent WAN is a very important element but we can’t forget why we need an intelligent WAN – the branch or store that sits on the other side. It’s the place where 80% of employees of enterprises reside and where content explosion is happening with cloud applications, video training, and other business applications need to be delivered to. So it would be an understatement to say the branch architecture and how applications are delivered and hosted is important.
Network Operations Centers can be somber places. I’ve seen quite a few during my last two decades in technology. To monitor and manage a vast network is equal parts nerve racking and mind numbing boredom as you stare at wall-to-wall screens, waiting for an alarm to go off.
Over the years, networks have grown to be more and more complex because there are so many interdependent factors that affect their behavior. These factors include traffic flows, network typologies, network protocols, hardware, software, and most importantly, the interactions among them.
More frightening, the steps required to do these very complex network-wide changes are in many cases still manual. In most enterprises this is done box-by-box one at a time – both time consuming and error prone. On top of that you’ve got to make sure that you’ve calculated for variance with lots of different flavors of swtiches and routers in the field. For example, to leverage a powerful feature such as Performance Routing (PfR), which can double your capacity, each WAN router must be properly configured and the overall WAN architecture adapted to the applications requirements. This can take many man-hours to implement, troubleshoot and optimize – which explains why most IT organizations spend 80-90% on operations, leaving little time for much needed innovation. Add in security, QoS, and mission critical applications and within seconds you can see this akin to kicking a sleeping beast. Once we move to the massive number of devices that are expected for the Internet of Things (IoT), then it simply becomes an unsustainable exercise in failure. Read More »
How many times have we done something for others? Something for people we don’t even know. We all love doing things either for ourselves, family or friends but participating in a cause, which is entirely for people who do not currently enjoy the beautiful morning walks, running or playing is another dimension and fills us with energy.
Would you like to participate in such a cause? It is happening simultaneously worldwide where everyone is running for those who can’t!
The Wings for Life World Run is an entirely new type of event never before seen nor undertaken in either running or any other sporting field. Why? Because it is a truly global adventure, encompassing up to 35 locations, in which everyone runs at the very same time all over the world! Read More »
Enterprise networks are special. They require bomb-proof design, micro-second convergence and service-level agreements so good that the WAN will only be down for half a second every year scheduled six weeks ahead of time for midnight over a holiday weekend. That’s what we’re taught from the time we’re young Network Engineers sitting on our parents’ knees. An Enterprise network is something special they taught us. We should never consider running our mission-critical traffic over the dirty, unreliable Internet! Such talk would be blasphemy akin to looking for a date at a funeral. It might work for some, but our network is special and must be treated that way.
So what is all of this talk then, coming from Cisco no less, of using Internet links to run an Enterprise-class network? Cisco recently introduced the Intelligent WAN (IWAN) solution that promotes exactly this sort of “illicit” behavior. So what’s changed?
It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway): reliability is important, as well as ensuring that you have a backup plan to continue that reliability. Just yesterday as I was embarking on my 50-mile commute into the office, I discovered that one of my car tires was completely flat. A spare tire, a standard feature in most cars here in the States, came to the rescue. Knowing how to change the tire myself, now that’s a different story…
In all seriousness, reliability and high availability are especially critical when it comes to keeping your business – including your branch locations – up and running. After all, downtime has disastrous consequences on your day-to-day operations, productivity, customer experience, and revenue. Imagine you’re in a retail environment and the WAN goes down, even for 10 minutes: the Point of Sale (POS) system is kaput, thus transactions are halted, customers are upset, and you’ve just lost thousands of dollars or more in revenue!
So what happens if your server, WAN, or worse, total system, fails? Read More »