The need for failsafe last mile connectivity to the cloud

Atchison Frazer from Talari explores how SD-WAN technology is helping to deliver robust enterprise cloud applications. 

The mass adoption of the cloud has resulted in a decline of traditional enterprise WAN traffic from a business and its branches to the corporate data centre, or from one remote site to another. But what we have seen is an explosion in the volume of enterprise internet traffic driven by digital transformation initiatives and the migration of business-critical apps to hybrid-cloud architectures. 

What started as projects around file sharing and remote data access has rapidly escalated into the adoption of cloud-native Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications and the mass relocation of on-premises IT systems to the cloud. Many companies have now re-architected key applications to take advantage of Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), which makes the ability to optimise application performance from the LAN to the WAN to the Cloud, even more significant.

But as the cloud’s influence on the enterprise grows, the risk of poor WAN performance also increases.  There’s no tolerance for the trombone effect that can plague traffic traveling from branch to cloud over legacy WANs - possibly adding tens of milliseconds of access latency. This is compounded by the lack of investment in high-bandwidth solutions, a particular problem for cloud-based services married to mission-critical applications, potentially resulting in an unacceptable user experience. 

A recent survey conducted by Talari found that more than a third of respondents had no outage tolerance, stating that “no downtime was acceptable,” while more than 25 percent said, “only a couple seconds without a critical business app was acceptable.” 

The situation won’t get any better on its own, given the continuing expansion of cloud apps and the significant traffic influx they create. Enterprises are already using 20 times more cloud apps than they track and monitor, according to the Shadow Data Report published by Symantec. Employees and business units can easily sign up for cloud apps on their own without IT’s permission - all they need is an expense account.  

Next Generation WAN for the Cloud

The foundation of cloud application transformation lies in embracing failsafe Software Defined WAN technology. A failsafe WAN frees businesses from having to rely solely on traditional high-bandwidth transport methods such as MPLS for moving data between remote sites and the enterprise data centre. The costs to expand MPLS links accelerate rapidly as mission-critical traffic to the cloud increases and bandwidth demand spikes become more commonplace. Instead, SD-WAN offers faster and more affordable options for companies to connect their disparate sites to the cloud. 

But to do this, WANs need to be more flexible, scalable and affordable and be connected directly to the cloud. Adaptive, deterministic intelligent routing makes it possible to match workloads between a company’s branch offices and cloud instances to the best transport method, whether that’s broadband or MPLS. By aggregating two or more links to connect locations to the cloud, with each path constantly measured and assessed in each direction for availability and quality, it is possible to route each packet down the best path. 

In effect, next-generation SD-WAN jacks up last-mile WAN performance and ensures that enough bandwidth is always in reserve for QoS-priority mission-critical apps. It maximises application quality and reliability by automatically and instantly moving traffic to a higher-quality path in the event of any single network failure or problem, including congestion-based loss and latency increases.

Like any transformational IT movement, there is a cause and effect. The benefits offered by the cloud can be negated if last mile performance and reliability are impacted. But with new SD-WAN technology, businesses can enjoy the benefits of reliable branch-to-cloud traffic flows, enabling them to provide superior support for their branch infrastructure and the best-quality user experiences. In an enterprise that is becoming ever more reliant on cloud technology ensuring you are set up to deliver these is essential.