Is the Enterprise ready for Broadband?

If you haven’t noticed, the theme of my last few blog posts centered around cost savings and optimization in the networking field. What better way than that to broach the subject of utilizing broadband as an alternative to private and leased line access.

Traditionally, broadband access has been shunned by businesses of all sizes for critical links, other than for use as a backup VPN link, due to its characteristics. The most commonly identified issues when describing broadband are:

1. Non-Deterministic – All traffic traversing the internet is handled on a best effort basis. There is no way to guarantee Quality of Service or packet delivery.

2. Oversubscribed – Many ISPs have a current oversubscription rate of 8:1 on their customer access. This can lead to unreliable bandwidth availability.

3. Failure-Prone – Broadband circuits, unlike private and leased line circuits, offer no Service Level Agreement pertaining to capacity, uptime, or packet loss.

This has always left businesses with few options other than MPLS, VPLS, or other Layer2/Layer3 access technology for critical data transport.

So, how can you make broadband work for the enterprise even with the 3 mentioned issues above?

SD-WAN offers a simple way to reap the benefits of broadband while minimizing or eliminating common issues. Through advanced application behavior analysis, understanding of the performance characteristics of the links utilized, and forward error correction mechanisms proposes an effective solution.

Let’s look at the 3 most common types of traffic and how they are enabled effectively when utilized in an SD-WAN solution.

1. Voice Traffic – This type of traffic is very sensitive to packet loss and jitter when being transmitted over a medium without effective QoS scheduling. Broadband has been a challenge in this area due to the Internet being a best effort service. SD-WAN overcomes this problem by continually monitoring the connectivity on multiple links and moving the voice traffic over to the link with the best performance.

2. Video Traffic – Video traffic is sensitive to delay and packet loss. SD-WAN compensates for this by utilizing the same mechanisms that are used for Voice Traffic Delivery.

3. Application Traffic – Through deep analysis including key performance indicators, application behavior is learned and policy-driven decisions can be made. As sessions traverse

the network links, they are acted upon by the SD-WAN system to ensure that bursty or lower priority traffic does not affect critical traffic.

Thorough analysis of application and link metrics allows SD-WAN to, in real-time, make traffic decisions to reach policy-driven goals and SLAs. Utilizing commodity broadband circuits is an efficient and cost-effective way to connect branch offices, retail sites, or corporate entities with a resilient connectivity model while ensuring SLA objectives are met. SD-WAN provides an additional level of abstraction above current connectivity models to truly understand application behavior and performance while implementing policy-driven traffic handling to provide a consistent, predictable, and stable solution for businesses of all sizes while incorporating broadband.

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