By year-end 2017, Gartner estimates at least five global carriers will have incorporated SD-WAN as a key component of their managed network service designs. At least two Tier 1 operators have already made announcements in line with this prediction.
- By year-end 2018, Gartner estimates 10% of enterprises will have replaced their WAN routing with Hybrid-WAN-based path forwarding
- By 2018, IDC estimates that 50% of enterprises will consider Hybrid-WAN
- By 2020, IDC estimates Hybrid-WAN to be a $6B market with 90% CAGR
For WAN managers who must continually balance the need for business agility with budgets and resources, the growing demand for more bandwidth and the associated costs of WAN service are critical issues. Companies experiencing steady year-over-year growth often grapple with the amount of application bandwidth available for branch offices over their WAN links. Another development is that line-of-business managers now seem to tap into the cloud directly—often through their corporate networks—to launch new applications with the swipe of a credit card.
Lastly, the rapid increases in the number and variety of devices connecting to corporate networks—along with other trends such as bring-your-own-device (BYOD) environments, guest access, and the Internet of Things (IoT)—all add to these bandwidth demands that IT departments are trying to address.
As a result of all this flux, application bandwidth at branch offices has become a major topic for many businesses. Factors affecting branch application bandwidth include application performance as newer applications consume more bandwidth and escalating carrier costs incurred when purchasing additional connections. Network connections bog down because the existing bandwidth at branch offices is not sufficient for the rate of traffic. Then traffic jams ensue, and users complain (to IT, of course) about slow and degraded performance. All of this indicates an approaching inflection point in the market which is gaining momentum toward Hybrid WAN.
Key market trends driving organizations to develop their WAN strategy include:
- Oversubscribed MPLS circuits in the Enterprise: Estimates indicate that enterprise WAN utilization is typically in the 30-40% range this resulting in severe circuit wastage.
- Traffic bursts: Short bursts of intense traffic can degrade the performance for everyone
- A silo based approach to addressing WAN management: Solutions such as WAN optimization, application delivery controller, routers, and security devices are widely deployed today but only solve part of the problem.
- Management silos: Historically, different groups perform all of the management functions separately, such as visibility, performance, monitoring, optimization, and analytics. This can lead to long troubleshooting times and inefficient capacity planning.
The Technology Shift
Cisco’s Software Defined WAN (SD-WAN) strategy and Intelligent WAN (iWAN) technology aims to make the WAN more service-centric, with traffic monitoring and management and a focus on application delivery. Cost reduction is the main driver for organizations looking to rollout Cisco iWAN where costs can be reduced by up to 90% by supplementing or replacing dedicated private WAN networks (usually MPLS) with commodity internet or hybrid connectivity.
Cisco iWAN consists of specialized routers that incorporate advanced traffic control and security features. These new capabilities allow traffic to be routed over the Internet or other low cost links to provide increased bandwidth without compromising the reliability, performance, or security of the existing network. This results in optimized traffic flows that accelerate network performance while saving organizations money.
Although iWAN enables low-cost Internet connections which have increased in reliability, companies still need to enable application optimization that allows them to intelligently manage WAN capacity. Critical to this is the ability to have real-time visibility into the network status so as to accelerate and prioritize the most critical applications to meet user expectations. Having this visibility and knowing what to implement and how to implement it on the network without causing impact to users is crucial. The real question is, how do companies do this today without investing in teams of personnel focused on managing this network complexity, which simply offsets the cost savings that they have derived from their Hybrid WAN strategy?
iWAN is typically not something you can just flick a switch to turn on and expect it to work. Organizations need the right equipment, connectivity, and know-how to make the most of the network improvements that iWAN offers. Organizations also need the expertise to manage it on an-ongoing basis to facilitate the visibility needed to optimize, troubleshoot, change, and evolve the WAN experience. Managing the performance of large-scale wide area networks was challenging enough when the WAN was fairly static. Now, the flexibility and agility of Hybrid-WAN increases that challenge even more.
According to analysts, engaging a Managed Service can save on operating expenses that are almost 68% of the cost of running a network. Cost savings may come from using the Internet as a WAN (e.g. Hybrid WAN) , but also through getting complete network management support through a managed service provider.
More and more organizations are shifting from managing their own IT and WAN infrastructure to a more managed environment because of this ongoing complexity. Cisco Cloud and Managed Services sees the value that Intelligent WAN brings to customers and thus offers a comprehensive managed service for this environment—the right people, processes, and tools to unleash the benefits of iWAN.
Introducing Cisco Cloud & Managed Services
Cisco Cloud & Managed Services eliminates these complexities via a specialized managed services team that understands Hybrid WAN and how to operationalize it so that the benefits can really be actualized. How? With visibility into the traffic running across the network and the ability to troubleshoot complex path and flow problems in real-time, we enable networks to run faster and more efficiently at a reduced cost to the business.
Some of the benefits organizations receive when partnering with Cisco Cloud and Managed Services for iWAN include:
- Improved end-user experience and satisfaction
- Efficient capacity planning (use of bandwidth by applications), predictability of IT costs, and IT cost savings by optimized use of network resources
- IT agility (standardized and consolidated services and management)
- Rapid troubleshooting allows for a predictable network experience
Cisco Cloud and Managed Services helps Enterprises with a predictable experience that identifies issues early, before end users do. By leveraging advanced platforms, analytics, and automation, we gain visibility into critical health metrics and trends so that the right strategies can be implemented and the environment optimized before issues arise that may impact service. This is particularly important because, while Cisco iWAN helps balance traffic load, it doesn’t make more bandwidth available on any given link.