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Talking my language: explaining SD-WAN

INTRO: The global internet is a wonderful thing. It connects people, builds businesses, enables opportunities. But it’s also a victim of its own success.

Why? Because the fault-tolerant nature of packetized communications means it (and private networks that use it, like VPNs and SD-WANs) mostly keep functioning even under the worst conditions. Narrow pipes, patchy connectivity, all the bottlenecks that add zeroes to the ping – somehow, the internet usually gets the job done.

But if the underlay is subpar, it leads to a poor user experience – and a bad impression of overlaid services like SD-WAN solutions as a result.

It’s why some C-level executives think SD-WAN is just “networking over the internet”, subject to the service variabilities of an ISP. And it’s also why some enterprises stay with older MPLS technology, despite high ongoing costs.

The motion potion: Cloud Acceleration

INTRO: It’s amazing how the Internet works. Data floods and flows magically around the world, billions of pages, files, images, and video served up to half the planet every day yet somehow never clash or get lost as they ricochet around the world. Except that’s not really what it’s like.

Packetized routing – the basic method for data exchange of every office network, every VPN, every SD-WAN – isn’t a work of art. It’s a functional solution to the messy problems of real life. Emails, application data, and discrete files get chopped into chunks, sent on their way, and reassembled at their destination, after hopping across multiple peering points and servers. It works – and often brilliantly. So brilliantly, in fact, those problems slowing down your data may not be obvious.

In the real world, servers suffer timeouts and bandwidth gets choked. Routings take the long way round and packets fizzle out. That’s why – taking advantage of decades of experience – Expereo has a magic potion for solving the logjams: Cloud Acceleration. Getting your data moving again – and keeping it moving, fast.

Still into you: MPLS and sunk costs

INTRO: MPLS (Multi-protocol Label Switching) was invented in the 90s, with the first commercial implementations rolling out in the early 21st century. And for many large enterprises, it brought huge benefits. By pre-determining each data packet’s route across the network (in a sense, bringing the older telephony model of fixed circuits to the wild world of IP) it gave a range of existing data protocols—ATM, Frame Relay—the reliability of a fixed-line over a shared network. For those who remember the OSI 7-layer model, MPLS sits between layers 2 and 3, separating the forwarding method from the underlying data protocol.

The drawback of MPLS is that it was (and remains) expensive. Yet many companies beyond the SME stage are holding onto their MPLS setups. Because while MPLS is reliable, carries assured Service Level Agreements, and is innately secure, it represents a major ongoing operational expenditure, with carefully negotiated budgetary approvals and supplier relationships. Time and energy have been invested in MPLS—and swapping something that works for something different isn’t something CFOs like to do.