BlogEdge Routers Are Dead

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Business applications are no longer solely hosted in corporate data centers. We get our apps now from subscription-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) products like Salesforce.com, Workday, Office365, etc., as well as applications from public clouds whether that’s AWS, Azure, GCP or some regional datacenter cloud service. And the kicker is all these applications are getting accessed not from the corporate headquarters, but from employees’ homes, their cell phones, or regional branch office locations. This is a dramatic shift in enterprise data traffic patterns as fewer and fewer applications are hosted within the walls of the traditional corporate data center. More than 80% of enterprise workloads will run in the cloud by 2020 with more than 40 percent running on public cloud platforms, according to LogicMonitor’s Cloud Vision 2020 recent study.

Now the traditional way to provide access to your business applications is to use a router-centric WAN architecture that backhauls application traffic. We typically backhaul network traffic from branch offices or remote locations back to the corporate data center before it goes to the Internet. This is generally so IT security detection and prevention services can be applied to Internet traffic before it is sent on its way. This process is then reversed for the return network route back to the end-user. With a conventional router-centric WAN approach, access to applications residing in the cloud means traversing unnecessary hops, wasted bandwidth, and added latency. This is generally why you hear that some of your employees often report that their business apps run faster at home or on their mobile devices than in the office.

Enter cloud-native networking. According to Gartner, By 2020, more than half of WAN edge infrastructure refreshes will be based on SD-WAN versus traditional routers. According to the article:

Companies are deploying SD-WAN for an average subscription fee of $100 to $150 a month, rather than spending thousands of dollars on a WAN router, according to Gartner. The analyst firm has found more than 2,000 paying SD-WAN customers globally, including some using the technology to power large networks.

ASG has been swapping out edge routers for a SD-WAN (software-defined wide area network) solution because it is a much cheaper and more flexible architecture for apps in the cloud. SD-WANs are a virtual WAN architecture. A SD-WAN is a more intelligent, cloud-first approach to build a WAN.

Consider this. How do you ensure latency-sensitive VoIP traffic gets priority over data heading to the public internet? How do you maintain latency-sensitive data connections during a fail-over to another network link when MPLS failover times can be as long as 60 seconds? How do you harden a broadband Internet connection? How do you address network latency of broadband? Traditional WAN architectures often break when trying to meet these quality-of-service demands.

Unlike the traditional router-centric WAN architecture, the SD-WAN model is designed to fully support applications hosted in on-premise data centers, public or private clouds and SaaS solutions such as Salesfore.com, Workday, Office365 and Dropbox, while delivering the highest levels of application performance. A SD-WAN security policy might be:

Edge Routers Are Dead to Me

  • Send “untrusted, unknown” traffic (peer-to-peer applications, traffic from outside the U.S.) back to corporate data center for deep inspection scanning (or if you use Open Systems, they provide built-in security scanning and controls so no need for this step).
  • Send “known, trusted” SaaS traffic directly across the Internet.
  • Send “home from work” applications (Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube) to a cloud-based security service.

The intelligence of a SD-WAN solution provides the ability to identify applications and provide an application-driven way to route traffic across the WAN instead of simply using TCP/IP addresses and ACLs.

In order to provide network resiliency, SD-WANs virtualize WAN services including MPLS (multiprotocol label switching), broadband internet services and 4G/LTE, treating them as a single resource pool. Along with the centralized network control functions, SD-WANs intelligently steer and/or re-direct traffic optimally across the WAN avoiding any broken or failed network routes. It automatically handles traffic based on priority, quality of service and security requirements determined by you.

SD-WAN solutions can eliminate the need for edge routers, firewalls, complex network segmentation. They provide optimized wide area routing along with complete visibility and control functions in a single console. They reliably and actively use broadband to transport application traffic instead of simply using it as an idle backup. SD-WANs even replace MPLS with broadband allowing you to not only increase your WAN bandwidth but lower your overall WAN costs by doing so.

If you have any interest in learning more about cloud-native WANs and how it will improve your wide area networking performance and availability—and want to save them a good chuck of IT spend—reach out to ASG. We are a great resource and are readily available if you need any assistance delivering a cloud-optimized wide area network.

About the Author

Mark Teter

Mark Teter, Corporate Technologist

In his role, Mark is responsible for the strategic direction of ASG’s emerging technology offerings and advancing the deployment of present-day hybrid cloud solutions for our customers. Mark has served as Faculty Staff Member at Colorado State University and has written over 50 white papers on subjects including Data Center Ethernet, Linux and Open Source, Storage Area Networks and Computer Virtualization. He published Paradigm Shift in 2006, a book on emerging technologies. He is a Google Certified Professional Cloud Architect.