WAN Orchestration Essential To Hybrid Cloud

The careful construction of a hybrid cloud can collapse due to neglected WAN resources. WAN orchestration can help.

Jay Akin

November 21, 2014

3 Min Read
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A hybrid cloud -- one that consists of public and private clouds, where data and apps can, if necessary, move among the private and public models -- is top of mind for many IT executives. But to really reap hybrid cloud's benefits, enterprises need to have a strong WAN orchestration strategy. 

WAN orchestration is the ability to intelligently manage WAN resources and the IP traffic flowing over the WAN. State-of-the-art WAN orchestration technology can make automated decisions as a function of many metrics such as latency, jitter, packet loss, capacity, and cross-traffic -- in real-time to meet the specific needs of the applications, compute resources, and type of cloud models.

In addition, reliability and redundancy are shared across the WAN infrastructure. Without WAN orchestration, enterprises will have a much more difficult time achieving the cost efficiency, security, scalability, and flexibility that hybrid cloud promises.

For example, by having a portion of a cloud deployment on a public platform, enterprises can take advantage of time-to-market and the economies of scale a public cloud offers and save money by only paying for what they use. But the performance of cloud-based applications is reliant on the connections that link branch offices to cloud-based servers. Any disruptions, delays, or bottlenecks in the networks that carry cloud traffic are simply unacceptable. They can be debilitating to productivity, customer service, product development and delivery, revenue, and innovation.

Enterprises must be able to manage WAN resources intelligently and can do so using new technologies aimed at improving network reliability, latency, and quality, such as WAN orchestration tools and WAN aggregation technologies.

An example use case is a multi-office enterprise running an IP-PBX VoIP product that is supported by both private and public cloud components. WAN orchestration can connect branch offices to the primary IP-PBX and intelligently optimize the connectivity for VoIP performance, while a cloud-based hosted IP-PBX can be set up as a failover SIP gateway in case the primary IP-PBX fails. With WAN orchestration, intelligent and sophisticated designs can be implemented with ease to blend private and public clouds seamlessly.

WAN technologies are available alone or in combination and can solve network issues without massive capital expenditure or infrastructure upheaval. Here's a quick look at three:

  • WAN optimization is used to streamline payloads via content caching, deduplication, and/or compression to enable traffic and content to flow more effectively in existing pipes.

  • Broadband bonding merges several Internet lines into a single, faster, and more reliable IP pipe. Because it uses existing infrastructure, it's a practical way for firms with branch offices to beef up their networks quickly. It's also less expensive.

  • WAN traffic management techniques, such a traffic shaping, utilize bandwidth reservations and traffic monitoring to improve performance by prioritizing certain protocols and applications. It also anticipates upcoming requests and bundles them to reduce chatty back-and-forth.

IT executives can't afford to wait to adopt WAN orchestration technologies, even if their hybrid cloud initiatives are still in the planning stages or slowly evolving. That's because of shadow IT, those IT systems and solutions sourced outside the direct control of the IT organization.

Without intelligent WAN traffic management that differentiates between non-real-time traffic and real-time traffic, branch office employees could disrupt a WAN connection by synchronizing hefty storage or downloading large files with a public cloud service at the same time a sales team videoconference is being held among branch offices, remote workers, and headquarters in a private cloud.

The clash could impair the organization's mix of private and public services and could possibly cancel out the benefits the hybrid cloud is supposed to deliver: an on-demand, scalable, flexible, and cost-effective computing model. WAN orchestration can help mitigate any impact and keep hybrid cloud performance on track.

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