Avoid Network Outages within SaaS and Cloud
Using a virtual network infrastructure
By: Marc Goodman
Aug. 22, 2009 10:45 PM
A primary element of SaaS and cloud computing is the virtual datacenter or Virtual Platform Infrastructure (VPI). VPI refers to virtual machines and virtual platforms that rely on many additional physical and virtual infrastructure elements. Over the past few years, new infrastructure platforms such as virtual machines, virtual management, virtual switching/routing, virtual storage, and virtual system management have come together to help drive cloud computing.
Virtual machine platforms such as VMware ESX and Microsoft Hyper-V are alluring technologies that have the promise of bringing cost savings, infrastructure consolidation, dynamic provisioning and other total cost of ownership benefits to enterprises of all sizes. In addition to providing the tools for building virtual datacenters, there is another critical factor to VPI that cannot be overlooked. The successful implementation of VPI technologies requires a virtual network infrastructure to reliably deliver the virtual datacenter applications.
Virtual WAN Networking
With IP networks taking on many new challenges from VoIP, rich multimedia and other high-bandwidth consuming and high-priority mission-critical applications, as an enterprise customer, business customers require that the network connectivity between them and their SaaS or cloud computing provider is protected with built-in reliability and controls for network performance management.
WAN link controllers allow network managers to choose the Internet connection performance/cost ratio that best fits business needs, provides complete service provider independence, and eliminates the complexity of network protocols such as border gateway protocol (BGP). Bandwidth aggregation combines Internet connection load balancing to route Internet sessions from congested links to links with more available bandwidth. It also provides automatic failover of Internet sessions from failed links to functioning connections to eliminate a point-of-failure. For example, if a business has a T1 line (1.5 Mbps), and needs additional bandwidth, it would typically have to upgrade to a T3 line (45 Mbps). However, this may be significantly more bandwidth than is required and will result in a significant increase in the overall expense.
With WAN link controllers, this same scenario can be accomplished with two 768 Kbps DSL connections that can be combined for a total aggregated bandwidth equivalent to a T1 - at a fraction of the cost. A customer can also add additional lower speed links such as cable, fiber, and wireless, with a relatively small increase in cost that can more closely match needs. In addition to receiving more cost-effective bandwidth, the WAN link controller dramatically increases WAN network reliability due to the new levels of redundancy through the aggregation of multiple Internet connections.
Network Infrastructure Consolidation
A good example of this is the bringing together of a network firewall, VPN gateway, NAT proxy and SIP proxy within the WAN link controller. Until recently, firewalls and WAN link controllers were separate devices, yet they were increasingly being deployed next to each other. They both provided necessary services to a WAN infrastructure, with the WAN link controller providing Internet connection load balancing and failover for reliability and performance - directing traffic among multiple and diverse WAN and ISP connections; and the firewall providing the network security - protecting the data and applications traveling over the WAN.
Today, WAN link controller vendors are bundling firewall capabilities into their devices. This significantly eases the deployment of both WAN link controller and the firewall, as there is only one system to configure. Moreover, managing and securing WAN traffic is much easier through a single interface. This device combination dramatically reduces equipment, management and ongoing support costs.
Device consolidation continues to expand as technology integration becomes more efficient and solutions become commoditized. VPN gateways, which once enjoyed a rapid popularity within the headquarters, are rapidly becoming bundled within other network devices. While they are useful as stand-alone solutions, the benefits don't always make up for the cost and complexity of their deployment.
Today, the industry is seeing a continued interest in VPN security, but, not necessarily as stand-alone devices. For example, VPN security is bundled within some WAN link controllers. By adding VPN security into a WAN link controller, the cost associated with VPN security is significantly reduced while added value is brought to the WAN link controller.
WAN Link Controllers Deliver Greater Control over Your Network
A single WAN link controller can be deployed at the enterprise to aggregate multiple disparate connections; or they can be used to "channel bond" multiple connections to create a single virtual connection that combines multiple network connections from multiple service providers. This allows the enterprise to have complete service provider independence and flexibility. This flexibility not only pertains to the choice of service providers, but also gives the enterprise greater options for the type, size and cost of each network connection they choose to deploy. This allows them to take advantage of the most cost-effective ISP rates, while ensuring appropriate levels of bandwidth are available for specific applications. WAN link controllers combine multiple network connections such as T1, T3, DSL, cable, fiber, ISDN, wireless, satellite, and others into a single virtual wide-pipe with aggregated bandwidth, while providing WAN redundancy and automated ISP failover, load balancing, site failover and failback.
Whether using an outside SaaS or cloud provider, a hybrid cloud solution, or you have an internal cloud computing environment, WAN link controllers fit in to provide the virtual network needed to ensure reliable network connectivity and controlled performance.
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