In these hyper-competitive times, IT organisations have been challenged by the cost and complexity of managing enterprise WANs (wide area networks).
Computerworld Malaysia asked Rolf Muralt, who leads the overall Software Defined-WAN product strategy and roadmap for Silver Peak, for his impressions of the SD-WAN space in Asia.
Rolf is looking forward to speaking with Malaysia based leaders at this year's CIO Summit later this week (30 March 2017), which is being organised by CIO Asia and IDC across the region.
His career started with being part of the Stanford team that built the first terabit switch chipset and includes helping to pioneer the network hypervisor and hyper-converged server-switch architecture at Pluribus Networks. He has held product management roles for Cisco's UCS server and ASR edge router platforms.
Photo - Rolf Muralt, Vice President of Product Management, Silver Peak
What's your take of the SD-WAN market in Asia?
(RF) We believe that our momentum in the SD-WAN market will continue to accelerate beyond North America in 2017. SD-WAN solutions is an emerging market, which IDC predicts will grow to a US$6 billion market by 2020.
As SD-WAN adoption moves toward mainstream across Asia, we will simultaneously see a larger group of SD-WAN providers competing for market share.
There will also be an obvious separation between the providers that deliver mature fully featured solutions and those that rushed to market with a minimal viable response to demand. I must add that with more than 2000 customers globally and 300 new SD-WAN customers in just 18-months from launching our SD-WAN solution, we are rapidly becoming a preferred SD-WAN provider among global enterprises.
We are therefore investing in global expansion and see many opportunities across Asia, both in our traditional routes to market and in the emerging market for managed SD-WAN services from regional service provider partners.
Is the current economy and operating environment impacting the growth of the SD-WAN market?
Geographically distributed enterprises must continually identify new ways to gain efficiencies across business operations and IT remains a strategic area of investment.
Enterprises increasingly view the cloud and WAN as critical to connecting users to applications, whether they reside in the data centre, the cloud or somewhere else.
As application migration from the corporate data centre to the cloud continues to accelerate, it's driving the need to re-evaluate WAN requirements, including broadband connectivity to connect users directly from any location to the cloud.
Broadband connectivity is redefining the economics of networking, offering a compelling value proposition to enterprises seeking to reduce the costs associated with legacy MPLS-based networks. This makes an SD-WAN an attractive area of investment given the ability to dramatically lower costs, while improving business productivity and agility.
What other broad SD-WAN messages do you think that Malaysian, and indeed Asian, business leaders and technology practitioners should take into consideration?
To navigate today's hypercompetitive global marketplace, conventional wisdom might suggest a cautious less-risky approach toward embracing new technologies.
However, in the case of SD-WAN, we believe it is even risker not to make that move. For expanding enterprises with global ambitions, adopting SD-WAN to leverage the power of the cloud is significant and potentially game-changing.
IT leaders are under pressure to balance the complexities of managing legacy infrastructure while accelerating the migration of applications and infrastructure to the cloud.
We have helped to "future-proof" technology roadmaps with SD-WAN and Hybrid WAN solutions to deliver MPLS-equivalent quality of service and availability when leveraging any combination of transport. This includes cost-effective broadband connectivity aligned to the pace of changing business requirements.
The resulting benefits include the ability to dramatically lower costs, enhance business agility and accelerate time to market for new products and services.
What are the do's and don'ts to bear in mind when implementing SD-WAN?
With more than 30 SD-WAN vendors competing for customer mindshare and early market share gains in this rapidly growing emerging market, it's critical that regional enterprises across Asia take the time to research and evaluate their unique WAN requirements before selecting a vendor and implementing an SD-WAN.
We believe there are four foundational requirements of an SD-WAN: Performance, visibility & control, security and extensibility.
An SD-WAN solution must have the ability to deliver predictable application performance and quality of service across the WAN regardless of the state of the underlying transport. The solution must offer the visibility to see, control and segment all applications running across the WAN in compliance with SLAs and deliver an exceptional user experience.
Finally, the solution must be extensible and work seamlessly with infrastructure already in place so that it can be proven and implemented at a comfortable pace for the organization. With a range of SD-WAN solutions available, some consisting of multiple components that are complex to deploy and manage and others consisting of point products that sell future capabilities or only address basic connectivity challenges enterprises must thoroughly evaluate the merits of each solution before making a purchase decision.
What advantages can SD-WAN bring to organisations in Asia?
I have to use our own approach as an example: a Silver Peak high-performance SD-WAN solution provides enterprise with secure and reliable virtual overlays to connect users to applications with the flexibility to use any combination of underlying transport technologies, from MPLS to business and consumer broadband and wireless LTE, without compromising network or application performance.
Our clients have achieved dramatic costs savings and realised greater business agility. They can confidently embrace the internet to accelerate cloud initiatives - all while proactively securing business operations and dramatically simplifying IT operations.
How can IT better engage the board to adopt these solutions?
For any IT organisation, application availability, resiliency and performance is critical to the success of the business.
With enterprises embracing cloud initiatives and accelerating the migration of applications to the cloud, they must re-evaluate WAN connectivity to assure compliance with SLAs and business intent.
IT needs to recommend high perform SD-WAN solutions that provide the flexibility and control required to align WAN resources with business mandates, while reducing connectivity and equipment costs by up to 90 percent.
How does your SD-WAN solution deliver these ROIs?
By delivering a complete SD-WAN solution, Silver Peak Unity EdgeConnect enables enterprises to optimise application performance regardless of the underlying conditions of the transport underlays.
In simple terms, applications perform consistently and transparently to end users regardless of network conditions. With granular Internet breakout automation, enterprises can identify known and trusted web and cloud applications on the first packet and confidently connect users directly to those applications from any branch office.
This provides for an exceptional user experience that enhances business productivity. Through orchestration, enterprises can make real-time decisions regarding the security of the network and applications running across it.
Through encryption, WAN hardening, application segmentation and Internet breakout, enterprises can automate the steering of application traffic across the WAN in alignment with security policies and business intent. Said another way, users are seamlessly connected to applications with the highest levels of security and transparency.
Finally, the majority of enterprises are reluctant to embrace new technologies that require the displacement of existing infrastructure. The Silver Peak EdgeConnect SD-WAN solution is fully extensible and works in line with existing branch office infrastructure.
What's the essential, winning message behind SD-WAN?
Automation in the WAN is a powerful tool for an enterprise. It is one of the revolutionary ideas embodied in SD-WAN.
The move to cloud applications is forcing businesses to rethink their WANs. And the inherent complexity in legacy WANs is not making it easier for network managers.
For instance, an assumption embedded firmly in the legacy WAN is that configuration happens at the device level-and that networking professionals must focus their skills and time on learning and applying complicated CLI commands, device by device.
But CIOs-and their enterprises-do not really care about individual network devices. What they care about is application connectivity: connecting applications to users, consistently, in accordance with the SLAs for quality and reliability that reflects business-level intent. Imagine this: Instead of configuring the network in a device-by-device manner, whether via CLI or GUI, the enterprise simply captures its business-level intent for a new application (or class of applications) with a simple, one-page GUI.
From there a central orchestrator works in conjunction with devices at the network edge to achieve the application connectivity objectives, all without any human configuration of the edge devices.
In essence, this is the true objective of an SD-WAN. An SD-WAN solution should include learning algorithms that continually monitor the quality of all available paths-and intelligently combine error correcting algorithms with packet-by-packet multi-path load balancing-to deliver a consistent user experience, even when the underlying physical networks experience loss and jitter.
The beauty of the business intent concept is that none of the details of these algorithms need matter to the administrator. All the orchestrator needs to capture is the business intent. The combination of automation with dynamic learning and adaptation capabilities in the edge devices can deliver consistent performance-without being stymied by the limits of automation.
We believe that an SD-WAN needs to be more than just software defined-it must become self-driving. Machine learning is fast becoming an essential ingredient for building an SD-WAN that can dynamically adapt to changing network conditions.
The latest edition of this article can be found at Computerworld Malaysia.
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