– Dr. Cahit Akin, co-founder and CEO of Mushroom Networks, says:
Today’s enterprises must have high-performing and highly reliable IP (Internet Protocol) infrastructure. After all, the next-generation applications and services they now depend on rely heavily on IP interconnectivity among the branch offices and with private, public and hybrid clouds beyond their corporate boundaries.
Performance, reliability and cost have always been the most important defining factors of IP connectivity. Today’s networks serve much more dynamic application requirements than their predecessors: therefore they are living and breathing organisms that change, fluctuate and have complicated interactions with the flows filling the networks. IT departments need to make sense of the complex systems and manage them accordingly to ensure service level agreements (SLAs) are delivered to their users.
WAN orchestration is the technique that enables just that – an intelligence layer that sits on top of the multiple WANs to facilitate the understanding, management and monitoring of enterprise IP WANs. WAN orchestration resides either in a physical network appliance or in a virtual machine that runs the WAN orchestration software.
Understanding the network: WAN orchestration is designed to help IT teams measure and make sense of the various characteristics of the WAN resources. The most effective WAN orchestrators include “must have” parameters such as capacity, loss-rate, latency and jitter (both as instantaneous and time series formats). Depending on the implementation, there will be other parameters and derivative parameters that are sniffed actively or passively from the network by the WAN orchestrator.
Managing the network: Today’s WAN orchestrators can accomplish sophisticated network functions beyond simple static traffic policing. Some examples include Broadband Bonding, dynamic flow mapping, flow based traffic grooming, Elastic IP address management and various advanced Quality of Service functions. These are mostly geared towards improving WAN performance and reliability and as a result, provide better end-user experience. They also directly impact costs, as more can be accomplished with the same set of WAN links, or the same performance metrics can be achieved with fewer or less expensive WAN links.
Monitoring the network: Collecting large sets of data and intelligence from live networks, without interfering with the data flows, is crucial. However, all that intelligence is only valuable if put to good use. Specifically, the collected data—either as instantaneous data alerts or flags as a function of big-data analysis—needs to be presented to the IT team in a consumable and actionable manner. Also, much of the analysis and distillation can be converted into automated actions.
We are entering a new era of branch office and cloud connectivity that heavily depends on WAN resources. That requires intelligent WAN management, and that’s the promise of WAN orchestration: the ability to measure, correlate and understand network data to be able to take or automate actions to improve WAN performance and reliability.
Dr. Cahit Akin is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Mushroom Networks, a privately held company based in San Diego, CA, providing networking products and solutions for a range of Internet applications. https://www.mushroomnetworks.com