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Why it’s time to reconsider your WAN strategy

by Citrix
June 2016
The Power of the Next Generation WAN

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By intelligently managing all of your available bandwidth, SD-WAN offers an unbeatable combination of reliability and efficiency. It is time to reconsider your approach to enterprise WAN.

MPLS: time for a re-think?

Traditional MPLS-based WANs can be inflexible. Too often, they struggle to cope with increasingly complex traffic patterns, including mobile and cloud-based applications.

You can throw bandwidth at the problem. But this quickly gets expensive. Inside many organizations, it’s becoming clear that traditional WANs:

  • Are difficult to deploy in a rapid and flexible manner
  • May not deliver the kind of user experience expected by end-users
  • Don’t always meet the requirement for high levels of reliability

Faced with challenges like these, many enterprises are opting to virtualize their WANs. Operating a software-defined network on top of the routed infrastructure generates major benefits in terms of reliability and efficiency.

SD-WAN reliability: a big attraction in healthcare

Software-defined WANs (SD-WANs) rely on proven technology to deliver real-world benefits. Today, deployments remain relatively rare. But adoption is moving ahead rapidly. Within the next three years, Gartner expects that 30% of enterprises will be using SD-WAN technology across networks connecting branch offices. [1]

The Watershed, a provider of drug addiction treatment in Florida and Texas, is one of the early adopters in North America. The company employs 600 staff working at five separate locations across Florida and Texas. At each of these locations, staff use virtual desktops and VOIP, both of which rely on WAN connectivity.

The Watershed’s traditional MPLS-based WAN links were experiencing delays in failover. These caused dropped phone calls and forced employees to restart sessions on virtual desktops.

What Trevor McCain, network administrator at The Watershed, wanted was always-on connectivity for all of the company’s employees – at work and at home. Citrix provided the solution: a network equipped with per-packet inspection and transfer on multiple bonded WAN links, including Metro Ethernet, commercial broadband and 4G/LTE.

Employees no longer notice network failure. Sub-second failover simply re-routes their packets to the next best available network. In addition, CloudBridge SD-WAN, now renamed NetScaler SD-WAN, allows McCain and his team to proactively monitor network performance and to rapidly implement configuration changes in whichever brand office they’re needed.

Efficiency gains: up to x100 improvement in cost-per-bit

By combining networks in an intelligent way, SD-WAN also allows enterprises to take advantage of Internet-style economics while avoiding the obvious challenges of relying exclusively on broadband or mobile connections.

NetScaler SD-WAN opens up this possibility because it’s application-fluent. It will, for example, send mission-critical applications across the best-available connections (typically MPLS), but push other applications across commercial-grade broadband links. The result is a seamless mesh of transport services that’s easy to configure and highly cost-efficient. According to one study, SD-WAN delivers between x30 and x100 better cost-per-bit metrics for traffic across enterprise intranets.[2]

Find out more about next-generation WANs

It’s no surprise that Gartner is predicting very rapid adoption of SD-WAN. This is a technology that offers

attractive benefits for any organization that needs to improve network performance in a way that’s flexible and cost-efficient.

Given the potential gains, network administrators need to ask themselves the question: is it time to reconsider their organization’s WAN strategy? In our view, the answer to that question is a resounding yes.

[1] Gartner, Market Guide for Software-Defined WAN (December 2015)

[2] Andy Gottlieb, “The Network Benefits of WAN Virtualization,” Network World, www.networkworld.com/article/2222426/cisco-subnet/the-network-benefits-of-wan-virtualization.html

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