With organizations adopting public Cloud services and unified communications, network architects are looking for affordable ways to improve the performance and the availability of branch office connectivity. The current practice of connecting branch offices to a single MPLS leaves the office vulnerable to network outages while back-hauling Internet traffic over a WAN wastes bandwidth and adds latency. A failure of that single MPLS connection can be extremely costly to a company unless they have engineered the appropriate backup network facilities. And now, lots of organizations are turning to hybrid WAN.
A Hybrid WAN combines private point to point links with public Internet links using encryption to ensure that any traffic sent over the public Internet is secure. The end result is a Wide Area Network made up of multiple connections between each location that can be actively used at the same time to improve connection reliability and aggregate bandwidth. It requires the use of multi-WAN routers at each location that are capable of sending traffic securely over multiple WAN links at the same time from a remote branch office that are then also able to combine the traffic again when it reaches the destination.
The basic concept of a hybrid WAN is simple. A hybrid WAN solution has at least two connections from the branch office. One is the traditional MPLS (or other technology) that connects directly back to the data center. All the normal business traffic destined for the data center, plus any other traffic you want specifically routed through the data center, takes this path. The other connection is made through direct broadband to the Internet allowing traffic to flow directly to the broader Internet or as a VPN connection to the data center.
A hybrid WAN solves the problems with older WAN architecture. Using the direct path to the Internet eliminates the extra hops and latency associated with Internet traffic going through the data center. It reduces cost since Internet broadband is lower in cost than an MPLS link. This can reduce, sometimes significantly, the WAN cost to the branch office. Additionally, using a VPN back to the data center over the Internet gives you an alternative path back to the data center, increasing availability and throughput. Another key feature of a hybrid WAN is path selection. A hybrid WAN can decide which link is the best path for the traffic based on real-time monitoring of latency, utilization and error rates over the link.
Hybrid network architecture has lots of advantages. But what questions should I know before deploying a hybrid WAN architecture? Or is hybrid WAN architecture right for me?
A hybrid WAN architecture enables organizations a versatile way to transmit their data with the added benefit of rapid provisioning and flexible failover. It can be the best of both worlds, providing enterprises with QoS-enabled connectivity, along with Internet access to public Cloud products. The first step an organization should take when evaluating hybrid WANs is to ensure that whatever approach it decides to deploy meshes with its overall corporate goals. This alignment is incredibly important. Application access is only one component. Your type of business and associated regulations may also determine which hybrid WAN design to pursue.
Despite of consisting of multiple links, managing hybrid WAN is simpler as the platforms are consolidated into a single conduit (or high-availability pair). Please also keep in mind that hybrid connectivity is based on a logical separation of traffic—virtually connected to the provider’s resources via virtual leased lines or Layer 3 VPN. And in order to exploit the full potential of hybrid WANs, define critical application performance and security objectives. Earmarking your traffic flows is a critical element of hybrid WAN connectivity. Company-sensitive applications should not share the same logical traffic flow as, say, less secure Internet-delivered traffic.
Hybrid WAN technologies can improve branch office connectivity resilience and bandwidth as well as provide new, more agile ways to deploy and manage connectivity requirements using a mix of Internet connectivity types from diverse service providers. But deploying hybrid WAN or not, it would depend on your network demands. And before deploying hybrid WAN, you should know as more information about hybrid WAN as possible. Hope the information in this article would be helpful for you.