Most virtual wide area network technologies are relatively new so few vendors have a critical mass of customers, and none of the major market researchers have published adoption figures.
Forrester analyst Andre Kindness says that 83% of enterprises are still doing the basics in consolidating servers in their data centers. But there is great growth potential for wide area network (WAN) virtualization, with similar benefits to data center virtualization, such as greater agility, faster provisioning, cost savings and general simplification of network management.
WAN virtualization on site
JAS Worldwide, an Atlanta-based freight forwarder and logistics provider, which has 240 locations in 80 countries but never established a true WAN as it grew as a network of companies. JAS' sites are often located in areas where infrastructure is poor, so the company's quality of service is uneven.
When Mark Baker became CIO in 2010, he wanted to consolidate and standardize business processes. Baker looked to solve two problems on his network: lower the cost of bandwidth and find the local talent to tackle remote site management. Baker addressed both problems with one device, an appliance from Aryaka Networks that plugged into the local area network (LAN) and Internet and tunneled into an Aryaka point of presence for a virtual WAN (vWAN).
IT organizations can buy optimization services from companies such as Aryaka, Akamai Technologies or CloudFlare. Traditional service providers, such as Verizon and AT&T, also sell services that manage routers or optimization via the cloud. Cisco's iWAN does the job in hardware.
"I can run voice, data and video thorough the cloud with zero management on my part, with respect to how it's routed," Baker said. "It gives you virtually a LAN experience across the WAN, which we could deploy in a fraction of the time it took for us to provision a private circuit."
Baker said the network service will save about 52% over what he would pay with a traditional hub and spoke model. Plus, the company was able to remove the Cisco gear from branch offices.
Another company, Redmond Inc., a Heber City, Utah, diversified manufacturer, uses vWANs to deliver voice over IP and video services to remote sites. Redmond has trouble getting private multiprotocol label switching lines to its branches, among them a salt mine, which by regulation must have a way to communicate with the home office.
Ryan Critchfield, an IT director at the company, said Redmond had avoided using cloud-based technologies in the past due to its many remote locations and limited bandwidth options. Improvements to network performance of consumer-grade Internet made possible using a vWAN appliance from VeloCloud has convinced the company to now push applications, such as email, into the cloud, he said.
VeloCloud, Viptela, Glue Networks, Silver Peak Systems, CloudGenix and Talari Networks are among a group of companies that abstract the complexity of the branch stack to varying degrees by using an appliance (hardware or software) at the remote office.
The VeloCloud technology takes any kind of network conversation, encapsulates the TCP and guarantees quality using forward error correction where the packets are streamed across links and assembled on the other end.
Margie Semilof is Editorial Director for TechTarget's Data Center and Virtualization Media Group. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.