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Series: Issues facing today's IT operations and maintenance teams
[Part 4] Network Virtualization

[ Feb 22, 2018 ]

How to accelerate building flexible and expandable networks with SD-WAN

In past articles, we have discussed various problems and issues encountered in daily ICT operations. In this article – the forth in our series – we will review a sample case that involves solving problems in ICT using new technologies.

Containing rapidly escalating cloud costs and maintaining the flexibility and agility needed to respond quickly to market changes, are two key network infrastructure considerations for every company. Network virtualization has been gaining interest in recent years precisely because it provides a solution to these issues. Let’s take a look and see what network virtualization can do.

Cloud-related network issues – Company A’s use case

About Company A
Company A is a global conglomerate company covering a broad range of business including electric power, infrastructure systems, information & telecommunication systems, construction machinery, high-function materials, and much more. As business grows globally, Company A was faced with various challenges managing internal IT infrastructure.

For Company A, remote office internet connectivity is channeled through a proxy and an array of security appliances set up in a central network base. The goal of this configuration is to improve security and governance. All security measures required by the organization are managed centrally from one location. This lets network managers to easily monitor all traffic flowing across the WAN and through the proxy.

The broad adoption of cloud-based applications, such as Microsoft Office365, complicates this network configuration. As remote office traffic to cloud service providers increases, the need to flow all internet traffic through the proxy creates a bottleneck. Lack of bandwidth on the VPN connecting the base to remote offices becomes an issue affecting all remote office internet traffic.

Use case scenario:

  • Remote offices connect to the central network base by WAN and VPN. All internet traffic passes to the network base through a proxy.
  • Use of cloud-based software solutions by users in remote offices is increasing.

Problems:

  • Network traffic to cloud service providers is saturating the VPN connections between remote offices and the central network base.
  • Increasing WAN bandwidth between remote offices and the base will raise costs.
  • Provisioning WAN connectivity for new remote offices is complex and time consuming.

Separating internet traffic using SD-WAN

Network virtualization provides a solution to the problem of WAN bottlenecks. NTT Communications software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) services use network virtualization to liberate the WAN from hardware constraints. This reduces bottlenecks and enables a more flexible WAN architecture.

Using SD-WAN, remote office internet traffic is broken out, based on content. SD-WAN abstracts the VPN allowing software to determine which network path is the most effective. In particular, internet traffic from remote offices to trusted cloud services providers, such as Microsoft Office365, can be connected directly, eliminating the need to pass through the central network proxy.

SD-WAN also provides zero-touch provisioning to automatically configure network connections. Zero-touch provisioning reduces complexity and speeds up deployment of network connectivity at newly opened offices.

NTT Communications SD-WAN offers a variety network functions virtualization (NFV) services. NFV can reduce operational costs, for example, by providing cloud-based network security capabilities that eliminate the need for remote office security appliances.

Solution:

  • Adopt NTT Communications SD-WAN to establish direct connection to safe cloud services.
  • Use SD-WAN zero-touch provisioning when setting up new remote office networks.
  • Reduce operational cost of remote office security appliances by leveraging NFV to deploy Unified Threat Management (UTM).

Benefit:

  • Using SD-WAN internet breakout reduces VPN traffic between remote offices and the central network base, eliminating WAN bottlenecks.
  • Zero-touch provisioning reduces the time it takes to establish remote office WAN connections.
  • Deploying NFV-based UTM reduces operational cost.

Benefits of SD-WAN

In conventional networks, configuration data is saved in each appliance. To make changes, each appliance has to be individually reconfigured. SD-WAN is software-based. This means network configuration can be centralized and performed over the network without requiring access to individual appliances. Below are some of the observable benefits.

  • Abstracting the physical network provides greater flexibility, enabling network configuration to change according to business needs.
  • SD-WAN enables detailed management of network usage by detecting traffic in a wide range of layers and selecting which network path to use.
  • Management of multiple network appliances is centralized, automated, and controlled by software through APIs.

SD-WAN and network virtualization are the key to IT infrastructure flexibility. The active use of cloud-based applications and the advent of IoT, where multiple devices are connected to networks, are increasing demand for network bandwidth. SD-WAN gives IT managers greater operational flexibility so they can satisfy the need for more bandwidth, bringing substantial benefits.

Tips: Thailand

Many enterprises in Thailand have gradually changed to use Public Cloud in IaaS, PaaS and SaaS. Despite lower CAPEX on the infrastructure thanks to as-a-service model, the cost of network upgrade on both links and services could be unexpectedly exorbitant, unless having a circumspect planning or the alternative solution.

Comment from Julapong Ponngoh, Product & Service Department at NTT Communication Thailand

"NTT Communications Thailand provides the full ranges of Cloud services and Cloud connectivity to enable the Hybrid Cloud environment to a customer.
With SD WAN service, one of NTT Cloud connectivity services, the customer’s branches are able to directly access the cloud-based SaaS e.g. Office 365 through Internet with improved quality but without security compromise.
To obtain the fast-track lane to IaaS e.g. AWS (DirectConnect), Azure (ExpressRoute), Google Cloud Platform (Dedicated Interconnect), Alibaba cloud (ExpressConnect) and etc., NTT can also provide this Cloud connectivity service with a competitive price based on the flexible model."

SD-WAN Service Portfolio

Global business environments are changing quickly for the enterprise, driving rapid transformation in IT network strategies. NTT SD-WAN Service Portfolio offers enterprise customers solutions designed to support their global network requirements and is available today in over 190 countries.

Nexcenter

140+ Data Centers. Data center services with world-class quality.
We deliver high-quality services on over 300 facilities, and operational standards through our global NexcenterTM brand.

How was the article? Next time let's look into another topic.
[Part 5] BCP (Business Continuity Plan)

Related Articles
[Part 1] Network optimization
[Part 2] Network monitoring
[Part 3] Server Migration
[Part 5] BCP (Business Continuity Plan)

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