A Guide to WAN Architecture & Design

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We, at Cato Networks, are excited to sponsor the 2017 Guide to WAN Architecture & Design.

The wide area network (WAN) is a critical and fundamental resource for any business. As we will discuss in this guide, the WAN is evolving, so the architecture must evolve, as well. The new architecture should address the future needs of businesses and support a new set of requirements, such as:

  • Maintaining high security standards over the WAN
  • More capacity for lower costs
  • Applications prioritization
  • Cloud access

The WAN is the heart of any enterprise as it connects all business resources. Building an elastic and scalable WAN, with the ability to control and secure every aspect of it, is what differentiates a traditional and cumbersome WAN from a fast and agile one, which can heavily impact the company’s business and ability to grow.

The report points out important takeaways for companies before rolling out new WAN architectures.

Reduce cost while boosting capacity

Many companies depend on expensive and limited MPLS-based WAN for remote branch connectivity. Traditionally, the primary destination of business traffic was the company datacenter, so backhauling traffic over high quality MPLS links was essential for consistency and availability. But today, with more and more business traffic going to cloud applications, backhauling internet traffic from remote offices to the datacenter makes no sense, and the high costs can’t be justified.

The evolution of the internet and the dramatic improvement in capacity and availability allows organizations to use internet links as a key WAN channel. By offloading traffic – especially internet-bound traffic – from the expensive MPLS links to the internet (or in some scenarios, completely eliminate it by using dual internet and/or wireless backup) allows companies to gain more capacity at a lower cost.

Increase WAN security

As we noted earlier, traditional WAN architecture backhauled Internet traffic to a central breakout. Using a firewall in the datacenter was simpler to manage, and produced good visibility. However, with the shape of business traffic constantly changing, backhauling increases the latency of cloud-based applications and negatively impacts the end-user experience. A better approach would be to look for a new WAN architecture that would enable direct internet access from all branch offices and secure it locally.

Prioritize critical application traffic such as voice and video

Every company has mission critical applications the business relies on. The WAN links’ quality (availability, utilization, latency, packet loss, jitter) heavily impacts the performance of those applications. Companies should deploy technologies that can classify and dynamically allocate traffic in real time, based on business policies and link quality, to ensure the application’s performance. Demanding applications can be directed to the higher quality links, while less sensitive applications can utilize the lower quality links.

Provide access to cloud services

Moving business applications to cloud services reduces operational costs and provisioning time. Many companies have already started to move big parts of their business applications to the cloud, so the question and challenge is, how will they secure and monitor all these cloud services? Relying on point solutions complicates the network, is unscalable, and can cause technical and security issues.

A better alternative and a good practice for companies is to look for technologies that unify the security tools, the management, and the events for their environments (on-premise and in the cloud).

Cato Networks provides a unique alternative to traditional WAN. It converges SD-WAN and adds security, cloud and mobile integration. To find out more about Cato’s SD-WAN offering please read our response to NeedToChange RFP

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