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Software Defined Wide Area Network Orchestration: Take Control of your Network

The WAN: Then and Now

The Wide Area Network (WAN) has been at the foundation of enterprise networks for decades: responsible Untitledfor connecting people, applications and data across a large number of locations.  Traditionally, the WAN was relatively static and a “set it and forget it” configuration methodology was acceptable and effective. Management tools were simple and straightforward, yet limited. As an example, while studying for my Routing and Switching CCIE lab exam 15 years ago, I had to become proficient in command line interface, node-by-node configuration and WAN troubleshooting.  In order to ensure timely completion of the exam, the use of notepad (scripts) and CLI shortcuts was imperative.

15 years later, many of us still manage our WAN’s in the same way: using text files, simple automation tools and scripting engines on a node-by-node basis.  While this is reasonably effective on a small-scale network, similar to Metcalfe’s Law, the complexity of the network is equal to the number of nodes on the network, squared.

Today, application, cloud, security and other imperatives require the WAN to be dynamic and flexible to meet business needs.  The agility and frequency of change the WAN requires is increasing exponentially.  In addition, the price/performance of broadband relative to private lines (MPLS/Frame Relay) and the availability of cellular (3G/4G/LTE) has encouraged the adoption of hybrid architectures reducing cost, but increasing complexity.  The business is asking IT to do more with less, leverage existing hardware to contain costs, support past and future applications, and be more agile. In order to keep up with these transitions and business requirements, the enterprise needs better tools.  Read More »

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Engineers Unplugged S6|Ep4: onePK

In this week’s episode of Engineers Unplugged, we welcome for the first time (and not the last) guest host Janel Kratky (follow her @jlkratky)! She’s hosting Jason Pfeifer and Glue Network’s Gregg Wyant as they discuss onePK and how to apply it to the real world. You don’t want to miss this one, it ends with a Glunicorn.

If you would like to become Internet Famous, and strut your unicorn talents, join us for our next filming session at VMworld 2014. Tweet me for details!

This is Engineers Unplugged, where technologists talk to each other the way they know best, with a whiteboard. The rules are simple:

  1. Episodes will publish weekly (or as close to it as we can manage)
  2. Subscribe to the podcast here: engineersunplugged.com
  3. Follow the #engineersunplugged conversation on Twitter
  4. Submit ideas for episodes or volunteer to appear by Tweeting to @CommsNinja
  5. Practice drawing unicorns

Join the behind the scenes by liking Engineers Unplugged on Facebook.

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Glue Networks Software-Defined WAN Deployed at MWH Global

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Software Defined Networking is at the center of many discussions and debates regarding networking, and right fully so. It means many different things to many different people, and there is a lot of confusion and discrepancy in the term.  You can ask 10 different people what SDN means, and you will get 10 different answers. If you ask me, SDN is today what cloud was five years ago.   I won’t attempt to define what exactly SDN means, but what I will say is that like cloud, the value of SDN will clarify itself over time with powerful use cases and meaningful applications.  Case in point, at the Spring 2014 Open Networking User Group (ONUG) meeting in New York City, the ONUG board of directors proposed nine different use cases that were most likely to be in an RFI/RFQ in the next 12 months.  From these use cases, the IT business leader community at ONUG chose Software Defined WAN as the most critical use case in open networking today.

While the idea of SDN in general is exciting and powerful, most companies are in the planning stages of their SDN and automation vision.  Most believe it will take at least two to three years to architect and realize the benefits of automation across the enterprise.  What’s driving SDN is the promise of the following benefits:

  1. Management: Manual -> Automated Networks
  2. Configuration: Box Centric -> Network Wide
  3. Speed/Agility: Weeks/months -> Minutes
  4. Interoperable: Closed system -> Open System

Currently, there are very few, if any, companies who have completed their SDN strategy.  Partially because it’s quite complex with many permutations, and partially because it’s so important to get it right.  While planning for SDN and automation in the enterprise, there are two key things to consider:

  1. SDN applications must add value to the existing network today
  2. SDN applications must be able to integrate into the customer’s vision for SDN and automation.

There will be a transition between beginning and end state, but any SDN tool being considered must show value on the network as it is currently deployed and allow for integration with future architectures and platforms.  If these considerations can be met, there is a clear reason to begin deployment today.  Companies desire a mature solution in global production that enables value through SD WAN, meeting all of the benefits above, not just the promise of those benefits.   Glue Networks can provide these benefits. Read More »

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IWAN Wed: How Glue Networks Improves the IWAN Experience with PfR

Network optimization is a touchy subject for many in the IT world, and a particularly thorny issue for the Wide Area Network (WAN). The idea that the network architecture as designed cannot meet the needs of tomorrow is the cause of much discussion, anxiety and in some cases, gnashing of teeth. However, the reality is that the rate of change of applications and ways the WAN is utilized is accelerating, and the methods of designing, testing, implementing and troubleshooting of today are not keeping pace. In addition, traditional services offered throughout the WAN only offer a partial view of the capabilities of what may be available.

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WAN Management – Not on Your Watch

AM63512Network 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 »

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