In the first half of our series on how a Failsafe SD-WAN enables superior Quality of Experience (QoE), we highlighted five specific benefits of failsafe SD-WAN technology. Each of those five SD-WAN capabilities contributes to better real-time experiences for enterprise end users:
There's still plenty of ground to cover on the different ways an SD-WAN solution powers the real-time enterprise. Let's go right into the next five entries on our list, starting with the most talked-about QoE benefits of all: SD-WAN's real-time impact on voice and video.
By the early 2020s, video will constitute a supermajority of all network traffic, up from the already-considerable share it accounted for during the 2010s. Unlike TCP apps, enterprise videoconferencing services are real-time applications requiring significant bandwidth and strict requirements in terms of minimal packet loss and jitter. Failsafe SD-WAN technology allows network managers to augment or replace low-bandwidth, expensive MPLS circuits with high-bandwidth inexpensive Internet links, and all while delivering the necessary technology for network bandwidth management via techniques like traffic/packet shaping, packet replication and Inbound Multisource QoS. This means video is prioritized and runs successfully, without adversely affecting QoE for other applications that share the same WAN.
On paper, VoIP seems like a must-have for any organization wanting to leave behind its costly and inflexible PBX system. Enterprises also want to ensure high-quality voice support for their increasingly distributed teams. In practice, though, there are often barriers to success, including inconsistent service from the locally available ISPs, which can lead to choppy call quality. A proper Failsafe SD-WAN implementation constantly measures path quality and sends performance-sensitive traffic like VoIP and video down the best links available at any given moment. It will even offer replication of VoIP calls on two different paths to ensure platinum-quality voice even in the face of network problems on more than one connection. Failsafe SD-WAN technology turns problematic VoIP implementations into a reliable real-time communications offering, in a way that SD-WAN solutions lacking such technology simply cannot.
SD-WAN delivers a better experience not only for end users of services like video and VoIP but also for the administrators who configure and manage the network. Features such as zero-touch provisioning (ZTP), centralized management and web-based consoles allow administrators to make changes to global network configurations with just a few clicks. Easier management reduces the chances of configuration errors that cause problems with the WAN. A Failsafe SD-WAN goes a step further, making the network fault-tolerant even to configuration errors elsewhere on the network. The automated processes and ease-of-use of managing SD-WAN tools are big improvements from the days of more manual network operations.
In MPLS WANs, creating a secure connection to the cloud often came at the cost of QoE. Backhauling traffic to a data center or HQ across thin MPLS links created a noticeable hit to network and application performance. Additionally, fully distributing NGFW (Next-Generation FireWall) network security functionality to all locations proved expensive in terms of both CapEx and OpEx. SD-WANs solve these problems through integrations with cloud-based network security services such as Zscaler and Palo Alto GlobalProtect. Beyond providing a robust security stack within a direct-to-cloud gateway, cloud security gains the elasticity, flexibility, ease of management and ability to add new security services that cloud-based network security-as-a-service offers.
We'll end this post like we ended part one, with a look at QoE vs QoS. The QoS capabilities of an SD-WAN, as ZK Research founder and principal analyst Zeus Kerravala points out, are about more than the prioritization of real-time traffic. If delivered with Failsafe SD-WAN technology, they also enable features such as Inbound Multisource QoS that enables bandwidth reservation and ensures more predictable and reliable performance of both TCP and real-time traffic. That is true even with shared inbound Internet links, which allows enterprise to safely leverage Internet links for real-time and mission-critical interactive traffic.