SD-N and SD-WAN Come Together to Offer Agile Cloud Services

Distributed organizations face both internal and external challenges as they look to evolve their wide-area networks. How do they seamlessly extend their network virtualization all the way to branch/remote locations? And how do they provide the agility needed to accommodate the transition to Cloud and SaaS deployments? Today, I’m happy to share details of an integrated solution that solves both challenges.

Network virtualization and software-defined networking (SDN) in the data center and campus LANs, at least as a concept, is now widely accepted. Perhaps the level of implementation still lags initial expectations, but most organizations either have something in place or are in planning stages. Many still focus on the data center, but the most adventurous are extending out into the campus. Organizations are finding clear benefits in transitioning to a software-defined data center, while the use cases for extending SDN into the campus have initially been somewhat more nuanced and difficult to quantify. Emerging use cases will likely fuel this growth.

Obviously, the network is more than just the data center LAN, or even the combined data center/campus LAN. It is the entire end-to-end network, inclusive of branch office locations. Once SDN moves beyond being a pure data center play, out into the broader network, then the genie is out of the bottle and the WAN becomes a consideration. Now the WAN needs to support network virtualization, end-to-end segmentation, programmability, orchestration—in short, pretty much everything that the traditional WAN is not. This is the expanding internal network challenge.

The external challenge for locations over the WAN is to find an enterprise-class way to leverage the flexibility of DSL and 4G/LTE broadband technologies as a cost-effective supplement or alternative to traditional premium-priced Carrier-grade MPLS wide-area networks. The balance is to maintain the premium service provider features—like optimization, encapsulation, encryption, and the QoS required to support mission-critical applications—while not further over-taxing their already-stretched resources.

In speaking with Mike Fratto, a research director at Current Analysis covering the Enterprise Networking and Data Center Technology markets, he commented, “Cloud-first and hybrid cloud strategies by enterprises deploying applications or relying on SaaS services impact user productivity when WAN performance degrades. Managing inter-data center, branch and remote office WAN connections to maximize application performance is a full-time job for enterprise IT.”

Now, however, organizations can confidently extend network virtualization and their software-defined networking solutions over the WAN while at the same time taking advantage of all of the latest and greatest connectivity options. Last week, Avaya and FatPipe Networks jointly announced a relationship that delivers a next-generation software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) initiative. Now, enterprises can have their cake and eat it too: extend virtualization end-to-end across the network, inclusive of the WAN, which can itself combine any form of connectivity technology and support the full suite of value-adding WAN services.

Both parties bring clear differentiation to their respective sides of the equation. Avaya has pioneered fabric-based network virtualization and FatPipe has pioneered the evolution to SD-WAN. But the real value comes from the integration of the two. FatPipe is unique in being able to specifically interface with an Avaya fabric-enabled SDN Fx solution. They perform deep packet inspection of the Fabric Extend (which itself encapsulates Shortest Path Bridging’s MAC-in-MAC encapsulated packets) and can interpret IP parameters and apply WAN services.

So using FatPipe, organizations can mix and match technologies from one or more suppliers, dynamically build flexible topologies, and implement any combination of comprehensive services. They have the ability to selectively apply these services to the different technologies and topologies. For example, they can encrypt a raw IP link while leaving a Carrier-based circuit in the clear. Cloud-based and SaaS offerings can be effortlessly and fully integrated. All of this can be easily managed and provisioned, including the distribution of a unified edge policy, all from a centralized orchestration platform with north-bound hooks. A FatPipe-powered WAN can seamlessly support the full range of Avaya SDN Fx network virtualization capabilities.

Fratto said, “Interconnecting network fabrics across the WAN isn’t as simple as encapsulating in IP and routing over the WAN. FatPipe and Avaya worked to solve thorny issues with supporting large IP packets without causing fragmentation, applying consistent access, performance, and application policies from the LAN to the WAN, and enabling troubleshooting and monitoring tools in FatPipe’s EnterpriseView® and the Avaya Fabric Orchestrator. The integration and ongoing partnership ensures reliable SD-WAN connectivity for mission-critical applications and continued management using existing enterprise workflows.”

This joint Avaya and FatPipe solution delivers end-to-end support for network-wide software-defined networking. Stay tuned for further details and success stories soon to come!


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