Future of WAN Includes SDN, NFV, Multiple Connections
A lot of the debate during the sessions was around the future of the multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) transport protocol, which was been at the center of networks. However, there are other connections—from 3G and 4G WiFi to broadband to satellite—that are available and that have differing levels of cost and latency to consider. Several panelists noted the high cost of MPLS connections, but added that the reliability would make it difficult for other technologies to displace it completely. "I think MPLS will stay around, augmented by broadband," Aras said. "We believe in co-existence. … Everyone loves MPLS. It works really well." What will happen is that other connections will find roles within the WAN, and it will be up to the technology vendors to figure ways to make it work best, he said. Citrix took a step in that direction earlier in the month when it expanded its CloudBridge offerings with the release of the CloudBridge Virtual WAN Edition. Aras said in an interview that the technology is designed to help businesses manage the multiple connections in their networks, scale bandwidth and create "always-on" remote office availability at a time when branch locations are becoming increasingly server-less.For example, an organization may have a broadband connection (which offers mid-level latency and low cost), MPLS (low latency and mid-level costs), and LTE 4G (mid-latency and high costs). The technology determines the best path for the various applications—video, for example—based on policies that look at such metrics as performance and cost. However, if traffic on one connection becomes congested or a failure occurs, the CloudBridge Virtual WAN will automatically and dynamically move applications to other avenues to ensure the best performance, Aras said. It also takes the burden of dealing with WAN traffic off of the enterprise. Businesses want product providers or service providers to take care of all of that, he said. "They don't want to have to worry about it."
Other vendors have technologies that—like CloudBridge Virtual WAN—enable organizations to address multiple connections in their WAN, according to Aras. However, what differentiates the Citrix technology is its ability to dynamically manage the applications running over the various connections to ensure the best performance, he said. It essentially bonds the various connections, which not only leads to higher performance but also lower costs.