By Raymond Smith, Senior Product Marketing Manager for Data Services
All companies these days are technology companies. Fact is, it’s nearly impossible to find an enterprise that operates offline. As such, today’s workforce demands a robust, reliable infrastructure that supports collaboration across devices and access types, and enables the highest levels of productivity. Furthermore, customers expect instantaneous response from websites and portals. This means that connectivity is a critical component of any digital workplace strategy. However, keeping pace with technology changes is a real challenge for most enterprises, and it begins with making decisions on how to best leverage legacy and emerging network solutions to improve performance while keeping a lid on rising costs.
To this end, many IT leaders are embracing multiple network technologies. These hybrid networks typically fall into two categories:
- Hybrid WAN is a mix of networking technologies, possibly including MPLS, carrier Ethernet, 4G and IP virtual private network (VPN). The goal of hybrid WAN is to capture the distinct benefits of each, thereby increasing performance while lowering costs.
- Software-Defined WAN (SD-WAN) may also include different networking technologies, but adds a layer of software that enables reconfiguring and performance optimization, as well as security, zero-touch provisioning and WAN acceleration.
While both approaches offer benefits including increased agility, efficiency gains, lower costs and improved performance, businesses can easily get tripped up on the road to implementation. What is required to help your customers avoid implementation pitfalls and reap the benefits they are looking for in their hybrid networking deployment is a thorough understanding of network architecture, protocols and applications and backup systems.
Critical considerations for successful implementation
Here’s a checklist to help ensure a successful migration to the hybrid networking solution your enterprise customer chooses.
- Identify Building Contact(s) and Deployment Staff: The building owner, the property manager, project managers and any other parties designated by the owner must be contacted and brought in early on. These individuals are key to overall project planning, providing building access, determining if a Letter of Authorization (LOA) or Right of Entry (ROE) documentation is required before construction begins and orchestrating deployment down the line.
- Site Survey and Installation Work: Before starting any kind of construction, every location should first undergo a site survey to map existing connections, discover if new links are needed, determine the extent of reconstruction required and identify what excavation and construction permits may be needed.
- Network and Ancillary Systems Installation: All network equipment plus any necessary venting, grounding, the 4G LTE backup system – each must be guaranteed to be installed correctly and in a location that optimizes reception capabilities.
- Sizing Voice Needs: When considering broadband links for voice, keep in mind the upstream throughput of broadband is often less than the downstream throughput. To size customers’ required voice capacity needs, one tip is to estimate the number of anticipated VoIP calls using the rule of thumb that 1 Mbps upstream can support six to eight VoIP calls with no other traffic.
- Security Capabilities: Security is a top priority for most organizations. Many companies opt for adding data encryption to their networks, but encryption is CPU intensive. Assuring reliable, fast throughput of encrypted traffic requires expert knowledge of device encryption rates, central processing unit sizing, specialized ASIC requirements and network link capacities, among other factors. What data will be encrypted, how it will be accessed and capacity requirements should be designed into the overall network architecture from the beginning stages of the project.
The right provider is key to enabling the benefits of hybrid networks
Clearly, the promise of increased throughput, lower costs and greater manageability make Hybrid WAN and SD-WAN attractive to businesses looking to kick start their transformation strategies.
The fact remains that implementing Hybrid WAN or SD-WAN technology requires extensive planning, expertise and experience to mitigate the possible snags that can derail successful, cost-effective implementations.
An expert provider that understands the entire range of issues and acts as a single point of contact can help any organization evolve its network to compete more effectively with the full benefits of Hybrid WAN or SD-WAN technology.
Ray Smith is a Senior Product Marketing Manager for Data Services at Level 3 Communications.
Ray has more than 20 years of experience in telecommunications at Level 3 where he held several product focused positions, including Senior Product Manager for the MPLS/IP VPN, and VPLS/EVPL product line(s) and also was a Senior Sales Engineer in North America. He holds both a Bachelor of Science degree in Business, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish, and is a MEF-CECP (Metro Ethernet Forum – Carrier Ethernet Certified Professional). To unwind, Ray enjoys spending quality time with his family and watching his kids play soccer.