SD-WAN for current use cases
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Late last year, Aruba was officially inducted into the software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) leaders’ club.
After the acquisition, Aruba’s early effort was spent tying Silver Peaks’ EdgeConnect SD-WAN platform into its own Edge Services Platform (ESP).
Specifically, it was important to integrate the control plane into Aruba Central, the vendor’s cloud management dashboard. It was a priority to make it easy for Aruba Central users to adopt Silver Peak EdgeConnect, founder of Silver Peak then, now Aruba’s CTO, David Hughes had said during an interview with SDX Central.
However, this wasn’t as simple as adding a new control panel where customers could manage SD-WAN policy. Aruba saw this as an opportunity to extend networking and security policies across the WAN in a way that was consistent and easy to manage.
The idea behind EdgeConnect and SD-WAN, began to show more possibilities. One potential is a better way of delivering user experience for real-time applications.
HPE’s senior director of product management, Rolf Muralt, reminisced about the EdgeConnect solution before Silver Peak was acquired by HPE Aruba.
“I am talking about applications that are sensitive to latency,” Rolf said. We often hear of human-scale latency – those 50 milliseconds pause which is still just discernible to our senses.
“But with machines, this latency has to be 3 to 20 milliseconds (ms),” he said.
“And with 4G LTE networks, it was difficult to achieve anything below 40ms. Hence, edge networks were important for use cases like gaming, computer vision, augmented reality, and next-generation type of use cases.”
This is an especially important feature for Internet of Things (IoT), a phenomenon that continues to drive exponential increase in network traffic. At a fundamental sense, IoT includes sensors that collect and transmit telemetry data from various Internet-enabled devices.
Businesses can act upon these data that turn into actionable insights, but that is not all.
Machine learning and AI algorithms that come into the equation, could even enable automatic response at a system level.
According to Aruba, there are three key elements that an SD-WAN solution must include to enable Internet of Things. These are:
- Visibility – real-time visibility is critical. Organisations can run more efficiently with preventive trouble-shooting, and a dashboard for top management to see metrics and performance of any IoT application.
- Security – IoT traffic must be isolated from traffic from other applications. Role-based access control (RBAC) is recommended to augment application intelligence with the user and device identity and role information for stronger security policy enforcement.
- Agility – centralised orchestration for various devices, applications, and users is required.
Rolf observed an enterprise SD-WAN use case based on a notion that enterprise campuses are going to be connected via 5G private networks.
Recognising a hybrid working future, Aruba had released their new EdgeConnect Microbranch solution, that aims to securely provide all the usual services office workers require without additional hardware, agents, or gateways at a remote working site.
A full range of on-campus connectivity will be delivered along with on-campus Zero Trust features and Secure Access Services Edge (SASE) security frameworks to home or remote offices.
SD-WAN has been added to large branches and campuses to deal with demands for higher application performance, reliability, and security.
Overall, EdgeConnect Microbranch services address common challenges associated with remote work, such as:
* The need to guarantee uptime and the performance of latency-sensitive applications like unified communication and collaboration
* Ensuring proper security
* Management of a higher density of bandwidth-hungry devices on the network.
Policy-based routing work together with existing services like Air Slice optimise how application traffic is routed to a destination. Air Slice is a solution that dynamically allocates Access Point (AP) radio resources to specific applications.
For example, video conferencing call quality can be improved by prioritising that traffic over video entertainment, and then routing the video conferencing traffic directly to the trusted SaaS vendor, bypassing the usual inspection at the data centre.
Rolf commented, “Different technologies have different service level objectives – what you need for a drone application versus a gaming application might be different. The app could be more or it could be less sensitive to latency there.”
Setting policies with SD-WAN starts with the idea that the application should be able to tell the network what it wants to emphasise – is it going to be cheap data transport for a backup application, or a good experience for a human user, or WAN optimisation for compression, and more.
“These policies can now be extended to machines and devices in a wider Internet of Things (IoT) bucket that may include automation and industrial applications, potentially even giving birth to a ‘self-driving forklift’ in an industrial environment. There are so many possibilities and use cases,” Rolf concluded.