The use and management of cloud and SaaS solutions pose challenges. A webcast of the Computerwoche shows how IT bosses can get this under control using programmable infrastructures. Felix Massoth, GTM Specialist Intelligent Infrastructure Services, SD-Networking at NTT Germany, and his colleague Oliver Harmel, Vice President Managed Services Go-To-Market, explain what the advantages of a modern SD-WAN solution are. Journalist Simone Ciganek from Computerwoche moderates the webcast.
NTT defines SD-WAN as a programmable infrastructure for wide area data networks. Put more practically, it is about merging a private data network and a public network. The experts are observing a paradigm shift on this topic: Up to now, companies have provided the applications from their data center. “A lot of primary and secondary infrastructure was built,” Harmel explains, “everything was centralized, all assets were at one point.” To ensure this, Internet access had to be handled restrictively. Massoth adds that many companies are now adopting a cloud first strategy in which applications are no longer delivered from the basement. SD-WAN should make the whole thing performant, agile and secure. The route of the packets and protocols should be easier.
As three typical features of SD-WAN he names the dynamic path selection, visibility at the application level (“I see what happens with the applications, where they go”), and predictable application experience. Performance is a very important issue. As an example, NTT mentions a global financial institution that has had backup problems due to the length of the data traffic. “We were able to solve the latent problem of the customer within four days by optimizing the protocol with SD-WANs”, the experts report. Additional features include a transport-agnostic, vendor-independent platform, network and application visibility and control as well as flexible financing models to optimize Opex and Capex, and optimized SaaS and application performance.
At this point, the moderator intervenes a viewer survey about the status of SD-WAN. The result: 20 percent of webcast viewers have already completed the implementation, and another eight percent are still doing it. 16 percent are in the test phase and at 24 percent the SD-WAN is only of “interest” so far. But what kind of company is it suitable for? “From a minimum of three networked company locations,” says Harmel.
If you choose SD-WAN, you usually have a hybrid IT strategy. Other reasons include cost efficiency (due to the increasing need for bandwidth) or improvement in operational efficiency and business agility. From the experts’ point of view, the point of application awareness is still underestimated. “Most companies have not yet recognized the advantages of different application controls, there is still a lot in it,” they comment.
In any case, Massoth sees the need for a cloud-ready “internet-leveraged” network, including the possibility of offloading (“breaking out internet traffic where it is queried, relocating security to the cloud”). Keywords such as networking and hybrid play a role, as does the triumvirate of costs, agility and security.
The experts identify bandwidth growth and delivery times for classic updates as typical pain points for their customers. Harmel knows manufacturing companies that still have to operate with bandwidths of ten MB. The data streams are far too long. He expects the issue of costs to come to the fore again. Collaboration is also a strong factor because there is a trend towards distributed work.
At this point, Ciganek hooks again. “How do you go about it?” She wants to know. Massoth divides the procedure into five phases: firstly, Discovery and Design (“Am I ready for SD-WAN?”) Secondly, the Kick-Off and Planning project, thirdly the SD-WAN pilot and fourthly the global SD-WAN roll-out and fifth, management and support.
This image confirms another audience survey. 59 percent followed a predefined schedule when implementing new technologies or network solutions. 27 percent deployed agile. This is exactly where the trend goes, “says Massoth:” You don’t have to switch everything to agility, but you have to be aware of what you do and when, “he says. Ultimately, there are three key elements on the way to a new company network: putting on the overlay, removing bottlenecks in the network that are visible through the SD-WAN technology, and optimizing the underlay.
The experts emphasize that NTT is manufacturer agnostic. The provider selects the right player for the respective customer company from a large portfolio. Harmel and Massoth see the biggest stumbling block where companies underestimate discovery and planning. “Which traffic is going where on the net, I have to be able to see through visibility, so as not to place applications in the wrong place,” they say. Companies put a commercial stumbling block in their way when WAN technologies are evaluated in too long tender phases. “There can be a time lag of 18 months here,” says Harmel, who clearly advocates agility on this point.
Finally, the webcast viewers inquire about the costs. Massoth said: “You have to look at both disciplines, the overlay and the underlay. The key is to lower operational costs, managed services can help here.” Optimizing the underlay, for example, can also save costs through routing that is set up differently. One thing Harmel makes clear: “It is not ‘whether’, but ‘how’ that new technologies are used. Of course, you have to invest first. But maybe I can even reduce bandwidth. In any case, I can control much more precisely and react earlier! “
Watch the webcast here