It’s Time to Think Outside the Router
By Derek Granath, Silver Peak VP of product marketing
Turn Me Loose
I finally delivered four large boxes of CDs to my local library – my collection of nearly 1,000 titles, some as old as 33 years, like my Loverboy CD, when I acquired them in back in 1985. And back in 1985, or maybe 1986, I did a similar uncluttering with my cassettes and vinyl (except for a few select albums like an original release of Dark Side of the Moon).
Music has gone from 12” vinyl to more compact cassette tapes to even more compact CDs and now streaming services that connect listeners to music anywhere, anytime. Just as music technology has changed through the years to provide more flexibility on how music is consumed, the application consumption model has changed, too. The “job of the WAN” has always been to connect users to applications, but wide area networking (WAN) technology based on conventional branch routers has not kept up to provide the optimal means of connecting to them.
It’s all in the Cloud
Hanging out and listening to records was a hobby you just “did” on a lazy afternoon or during an evening over cocktails. Then we wanted to take our music with us, made possible by cassette tapes and the Walkman. Later, we wanted to take MORE of our music with us, and MP3 players let us rip and load the equivalent of my boxes of CDs on a device smaller than a deck of cards. Fast-forward to ~2000 with the creation of Napster and music streaming, and we could access almost ANY song from almost anywhere, anytime. Music now resides in the cloud and doesn’t have to be hosted on our bookshelves.
The same is happening with applications. Traditionally, enterprises hosted all of their applications in their own data centers. Users would connect to applications from branch offices over private WANs built on X.25, frame relay and later, MPLS. Coincidentally – or maybe not – in the same timeframe as the birth of streaming music services, cloud computing and nascent software-as-a-service companies like Salesforce.com emerged (Salesforce.com was founded in 1999). Now users can connect to SaaS and IaaS from anywhere, anytime.
But the old 1980s router-centric WAN model isn’t cloud-friendly. It requires backhauling SaaS and IaaS traffic to the data center before being sent to the cloud. This adds latency (delay) that negatively impacts performance. Why not simply connect directly and securely over the internet to the applications they need to be productive? An application-driven SD-WAN provides the intelligence to connect users to applications directly and securely, using the most direct means available, delivering a superior user experience. I don’t want to go home and rip a new song to my MP3 player that I want to hear now when I can access it immediately from the cloud without delay.
Make it easy for me
Back in the day, if I wanted to listen to a particular song, I’d have to remember the artist, the album it was on and then search my CD shelves for it. Then I’d take out the CD, perhaps clean it, load it and select the song. Sure, I’d alphabetize by artist and I could access songs by track number (easier than dropping a needle), but managing and “consuming” music was far more difficult than it is today. Now, I simply type in a song title into a search window – or even just ask Siri/Alexa/Cortana – and it plays.
Powerful centralized orchestration, such as is available with the Silver Peak® Unity EdgeConnect™ SD-WAN solution is similar in its way of making it much easier to manage the WAN. With Unity Orchestrator™, I no longer have to spend endless hours programming application QoS and security policies one-by-one, device-by-device using a cumbersome CLI. With a few mouse clicks via an intuitive GUI, I can define how I want applications to be handled based on business intent. I configure application policies once and push them to all 50 or 500 or 5,000 of my branch offices with one click, saving time and minimizing the potential for errors. EdgeConnect intelligently and automatically connects users to applications over the best paths without having to manually program subnets and ACLs. It’s kind of like selecting a music genre on a streaming service, and it just plays what I like to hear.
Just as it was time to retire my CD collection for a better, more flexible and more enjoyable way to consume music, it’s time to take conventional branch routers and Turn Them Loose — sorry, couldn’t resist the Loverboy analogy. It’s time to think outside the router with an application-driven EdgeConnect SD-WAN solution to provide a better cloud-first experience.
Learn why you should think outside the router.
(This article first appeared here).