Rethinking the WAN for the Cloud Computing Era: How SDN Technology Brings Lower WAN Costs While Improving Performance

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1 Rethinking the WAN for the Cloud Computing Era: How SDN Technology Brings Lower WAN Costs While Improving Performance

2 Table of Contents Introduction Sizing Up the Drivers for a New WAN Architecture Exploring Current WAN Architectures Private Lines Business Internet Building a Better Cloud Exchange Network with SDN SDN Defined Applying SDN to Enhance the Cloud Exchange Network Benefits of SDN to the Cloud Exchange Network It s time to rethink WAN architectures State Street Saves Millions with their Cloud Exchange Network The Time is Now to Apply SDN to the Cloud Exchange Network About Sonus

3 Introduction If your company is like most, you re either already using cloud computing services or are seriously considering it. To get the most out of cloud services, though, requires a rethinking of wide-area networking (WAN) architectures that many companies are overlooking. Companies are indeed adopting cloud computing services in droves. In a recent survey of 400 companies, the IT industry association CompTIA found that more than 90% are using some form of cloud computing, a finding the group called a clear indication that the cloud has quickly become an essential ingredient of modern IT. 1 Cloud services have become essential because they can deliver new levels of IT flexibility at an attractive cost, with little to no capital expense. But cloud also puts new pressure on WAN performance and availability. Simply put, if the cloud exchange network (the WAN connection to the cloud provider) goes down or suffers performance problems, user productivity and satisfaction with cloud services likewise suffer. So companies need to find ways to ensure that their cloud exchange network has the kind of performance and reliability that investments in cloud solutions warrant. With traditional WANs typically leased lines or MPLS services that essentially means buying additional circuits to improve reliability or more bandwidth on existing ones to improve performance, either of which is an expensive, inefficient proposition. A better solution lies in adopting software-defined networking (SDN) technology and applying it to the cloud exchange network. This delivers several benefits as compared to traditional WAN architectures, including: Dynamic bandwidth allocation for applications Flexibility to make rapid changes in WAN services Visibility across multiple carriers services and manageability across multiple WAN technologies Lower cost, with the ability to use alternative IP access services without sacrificing reliability In this paper, we ll examine the drivers behind the need to rethink WAN architectures, the limitations of current architectures, and how an enhanced cloud exchange network overcomes them. Sizing Up the Drivers for a New WAN Architecture The growth of cloud services is the chief driver behind the need to reconsider WAN architectures. The research firm IDC expects worldwide spending on public and private cloud IT infrastructure including servers, storage and networking will grow to $32 billion in 2015, up 21% from 2014, and will account for approximately 33% of all IT infrastructure spending. Over the coming 5 years, IDC expects the market to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14%, bringing total cloud IT infrastructure spending to $52 billion in 2019, or 45% of total IT infrastructure spend. 2 And that s just infrastructure. In a July 2015 report that looks at the total cloud market, including cloud services such as softwareas-a-service (SaaS) offerings, IDC predicts that worldwide spending on public cloud computing will reach almost $70 billion in 2015, a 27.8% increase from The exact mix of cloud services that companies opt for will also drive new thinking about their WAN architecture. As more companies turn to the cloud for unified communications applications, including real-time services such as voice and video, they will be stressing their WAN connections all the more. That s because traffic is no longer flowing to an internal data center, but out over the cloud exchange network to one or more cloud providers. And such applications are indeed top-of-mind, according to a survey by the consulting firm Webtorials. In its 2015 State-of-the-WAN- Report, the company asked survey respondents which factors would have the most impact on their WAN in the coming year. The top answer, selected by 37% of respondents, was Support real-time applications such as voice and/or video. Other popular responses included improving application performance, providing access to cloud services, and reducing costs (see Figure 1). 1 Fifth Annual Trends in Cloud Computing, CompTIA, November, International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Cloud IT Infrastructure Tracker, April Cloud Computing: The Essential Foundation of Industry Digital Transformation Worldwide and U.S. Cloud Forecast by Vertical, , IDC Document#256944, July

4 Exploring Current WAN Architectures Corporate WAN configurations have traditionally been straightforward: Branch or regional offices connect to the headquarters location, where the data center resides, in a star configuration. Users working from home or the road typically use the public Internet to connect to headquarters, but via a virtual private network (VPN). VPNs provide a secure, encrypted tunnel across the Internet. Once connected to headquarters, requests are sent to internal corporate resources or out over the Internet, as user requirements dictate. In terms of services, most companies today use either private lines, such as T1 or PRI lines, multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) services, or business-grade Internet connections as the basis for their WAN. Each has pros and cons, which we ll explore here. Private Lines Figure 1. Most Important Factors Driving Change in the WAN Respondents to a Webtorials survey were asked which three of the following factors would likely have the most impact on their WAN over the next 12 months. Support real-time applications such as voice and/or video: Increase security: Improve application performance: Provide access to public cloud computing services: Reduce cost: Support mobile users: Support the movement of virtual machines between data centers: Private lines provide dedicated bandwidth along with generally good reliability and performance. MPLS adds class of service (CoS) capability, which allows companies to give certain types of traffic priority over others. One class of service may be for real-time traffic such as voice and video, another for interactive traffic such as a videoconference, and so on. 22% 24% 24% 27% 26% 32% 37% Source: 2015 State-of-the-WAN Report, Webtorials Visionary Voices, June 2015 But private line services also have a few shortcomings. Price is one, as private lines are not inexpensive. MPLS can get especially pricey because users must pay for each class of service they want; the price can go up as much as 100% with each level added. Private lines are also fairly inflexible in terms of how much bandwidth users can buy. Typically they come in increments of 64K bps circuits, often in chunks of eight or more. If you only need one or two circuits, that leaves you paying for additional capacity that goes unused. Business Internet A less expensive alternative to private lines is to use the public Internet, with a business-grade Internet connection serving as your on-ramp. Such services are available in a range of speeds at reasonable prices; access pipes of 500M bps can be had for less than $100 per month. The down side is that, while the on-ramp may offer high speed at low price, behind that is the public Internet, which is inherently a best effort network, with no guarantees in terms of reliability and performance. Internet services can also be difficult to manage because they don t typically come with any management services or tools. That can be especially challenging for companies that employ a mix of services, such as a business Internet service used to back up an MPLS/ private line connection. 4

5 Building a Better Cloud Exchange Network with SDN While these services and topologies have served us well in the past, they do not hold up well when it comes to dealing with cloudbased services and infrastructure. To gain the performance they need in connecting with cloud services, companies would have to buy more and more bandwidth a losing financial proposition. SDN technology provides a better alternative. SDN Defined In a traditional network, a series of switches and routers make decisions on where to route traffic. Many such devices are required, at least one at every junction point between network segments and sometimes far more. And many of them need what is known as layer 3 routing capabilities, which means they have enough intelligence to be able to decipher the codes included in each data packet that explain where the packet should go. With SDN, that level of intelligence and control resides in a centralized controller. It makes routing decisions for large portions of the network, leaving the actual data forwarding chores to a series of inexpensive switches. In IT parlance, this is known as abstracting the control plane, where routing decisions are made, from the data plane, where packets are forwarded around the network. Applying SDN to Enhance the Cloud Exchange Network This abstraction creates great flexibility in terms how packets are routed around a network. Applied to the WAN, it enables multiple carrier services to be used in concert with one another, with the ability to dynamically route traffic across whichever route makes the most sense in terms of cost and performance at any given time. It also provides increased reliability, since any service can be used to back up any other, or to provide overflow during peak periods. Companies also have the flexibility to dictate which types of traffic should use which services. Benefits of SDN to the Cloud Exchange Network This type of flexibility enables companies to save money by tailoring each type of traffic to the WAN service that provides the best fit in terms of cost and performance. Delay-sensitive real-time traffic such as voice and video, for example, can be targeted to MPLS with an appropriate COS. , file transfers and other less critical traffic can be carried on less expensive Internet or Carrier Ethernet connections. As the traffic mix changes, the network is adjusted accordingly, on demand. Say two users have a UC session that involves just audio but then decide to upgrade to a more bandwidth-intensive video session. The centralized controller will immediately grant that session additional bandwidth, to ensure good quality for the videoconference. Once the session is over, that bandwidth goes back to a pool until it is needed elsewhere. In short, network traffic is dynamically managed across whatever mix of services and applications a company employs. What s more, IT can programatically align this dynamic treatment of traffic with the company s business priorities. You define which applications should get priority over others, and even which users. For example, you may want to ensure the CEO gets a high-quality, low latency connection no matter if he s connecting from headquarters or a remote branch with limited connectivity. All the while, IT maintains visibility of traffic flows and application statistics across whatever mix of services it employs. This is an important distinction from today s architecture, where Internet services have little to no management capabilities and certainly are not considered in context with other services such as MPLS. With an enhanced cloud exchange network, IT sees its entire service mix as a whole. As such, it can ensure WAN behavior matches its expectations. Where it doesn t, IT can adjust policies accordingly and remedy any trouble spots before end users are even aware of any issues. 5

6 It s Time to Rethink WAN architectures Clearly, the way companies deliver IT services has evolved with the advent of cloud-based infrastructure and services. WAN architectures need to evolve as well. Applying SDN to the cloud exchange network can help a company save money by using a more cost-effective mix of WAN services: MPLS where it s absolutely needed, and less expensive business Internet or Carrier Ethernet where such services will suffice. SDN technology enables companies to effectively match each application to the service that will provide it the performance it needs, while giving IT the ability to manage disparate services even from different carriers as a whole. It provides a more effective and less costly way for companies to meet their business requirements than traditional WAN architectures. State Street Saves Millions with their Cloud Exchange Network That has certainly been the experience for State Street Bank. The Boston-based banking giant was using 22 Gigabit Ethernet, MPLSbased WAN links to connect data centers in eight locations. The configuration provided limited redundancy and wasted significant bandwidth, as it was only 20% utilized. State Street replaced those Gigabit Ethernet links with just seven carrier Ethernet links along with the Sonus VellOS, to provide enhanced cloud exchange networking capabilities. Those seven links now run at 90% utilization, and WAN costs have dropped from $198,000 per month to just $42,000 per month. Over 36 months, costs dropped from more than $7 million to about $1.5 million, for a savings of more than $5.5 million. At the same time, State Street was able to improve application and network performance by implementing dynamic application SLAs that give priority to latency-sensitive and business-critical applications. It was also able to reduce the business risks associated with running multiple data centers and reduce the time to value it gets on new business services and applications. The Time is Now to Apply SDN to the Cloud Exchange Network While State Street opted to dive in to the latest cloud exchange networking technology with both feet, with stellar results, others take a more measured approach. Maybe a company with five sites simply wants a greater degree of business continuity and reliability. With an SDN-enabled cloud exchange network, the company can implement an inexpensive carrier Ethernet connection as an alternate path for disaster recovery. Over time, perhaps the company adds more and more traffic to those Ethernet links, in the process proving the efficiency and reliability of the cloud exchange network until they gain sufficient comfort with it to take the steps that State Street did. What s more, with Sonus VellOS, customers can add new technology to their existing network; there s no need to rip and replace. That also makes the technology both highly scalable and reliable, as the State Street example shows. It s clear the time is now to get some experience with SDN and the latest cloud exchange networking technology. It s available now from Sonus. Visit to learn more. 6

7 About Sonus enables and secures real-time communications so the world s leading service providers and enterprises can embrace the next generation of SIP and 4G/LTE solutions including VoIP, video, instant messaging and online collaboration. With customers in more than 50 countries and nearly two decades of experience, Sonus offers a complete portfolio of hardware-based and virtualized Session Border Controllers (SBCs), Diameter Signaling Controllers (DSCs), Cloud Exchange Networking Platform, policy/routing servers, and media and signaling gateways. For more information, visit or call GO-SONUS. Sonus is a registered trademark of Sonus Networks, Inc. All other company and product names may be trademarks of the respective companies with which they are associated. North American Headquarters APAC Headquarters EMEA Headquarters CALA Headquarters 4 Technology Park Drive Westford, MA U.S.A. Tel: GO-SONUS 1 Fullerton Road #02-01 One Fullerton Singapore Singapore Tel: Edison House Edison Road Dorcan, Swindon Wiltshire SN3 5JX Tel: Homero No Col. Los Morales, C.P Mexico City, Mexico Distrito Federal Mexico Tel: Int l Tel: To learn more, call Sonus at 855-GO-SONUS or visit us online at The content in this document is for informational purposes only and is subject to change by without notice. While reasonable efforts have been made in the preparation of this publication to assure its accuracy, assumes no liability resulting from technical or editorial errors or omissions, or for any damages resulting from the use of this information. Unless specifically included in a written agreement with, has no obligation to develop or deliver any future release or upgrade, or any feature, enhancement or function. Copyright 2015, Inc. All rights reserved. Sonus is a registered trademark of, Inc. All other trademarks, service marks, registered trademarks or registered service marks may be the property of their respective owners. DS /7 7

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