Cisco Issues SD-WAN 'Bill of Rights'
Wants to prod big-picture thinking to help companies better prepare for digital business transformation.
In the past couple of months, and particularly the last few days or so with next week's VMware's VMworld event looming large, I've received a lot of outreach around software-defined WAN, or SD-WAN. Cisco, Glue Networks, Ipanema Technologies, Silver Peak, Talari, Velocloud, Viptela (and I'm sure I missed a few)... everybody has a story to tell about how their technology can help enterprise network managers optimize delivery of application traffic across the wide area using broadband Internet connections.
They're speaking to an attentive audience (if not always a buying one, yet). The traditional enterprise WAN, with its hub-and-spoke architecture, is the source of considerable grief for companies as they increase their use of cloud services for application delivery and wireless Internet connectivity for mobile workers. Needing to pass cloud-based app and Internet traffic through a central site, over an MPLS or private IP network, and then down to the branch -- and vice versa -- just doesn't cut it.
It's become clear to many enterprise network managers by now that they need to fix the WAN situation or face the consequences that come with a static, inefficient model that hinders business agility (see related story, Software-Defined Networking Headed to Enterprise WAN). And so they're glomming onto to the idea of the SD, or hybrid, WAN.
SD-WAN technology is particularly appealing in that it allows companies to bring secure, reliable and cost-effective broadband connectivity to remote locations via virtual network overlays (see related story, Silver Peak Delivers SD WAN Overlay"). But SD-WAN is just part of the story leading to transformation at the branch, says Jason Rolleston, Cisco's senior director of product management in the Enterprise Networking business and leader of the company's SD-WAN effort.
"If you really just stay hyper-focused on SD-WAN you might miss the forest through the trees here," he told me in a recent interview. "There's a broader story, and we need to talk about all of it."
By all of it, Rolleston is referring to things like virtualization's creep into the branch, increased digitization with the rise of the Internet of Things and sensors everywhere, and greater reliance on real-time communications. Not only do enterprises need SD-WANs, they need the ability to shift traffic from one pipe to the next with speed and ease per policy.
To get folks thinking about the big picture, Cisco has "put things down to paper" in what it's calling a "WAN Bill of Rights," Rolleston says. And, yes, while many of the points contained in this WAN Bill of Rights seem as basic as those principles spelled out in the first 10 amendments of the U.S. Constitution, they really aren't, he adds. "Some may come across as self-evident, and that they exist already, but we found in many cases that they really don't. So a large part of what's happening through SD-WAN and otherwise is understanding that, look, there are some things that you should be doing and can do that are really going to be quite transformative, not just for the business and IT but the whole way that the network works and enables the business -- and the way we and customers do our work."
Cisco doesn't expect every company to embrace each of the 10 rights it's articulated in this document, but it does hope these ideas, pulled together as one, will get everybody thinking a bit harder about SD-WAN in the grand scheme of things, Rolleston says. "As people think about how they're going to run and operate the WAN, we want to make sure they have the whole picture in mind."
So, without further avail, click to the next page (below) to read Cisco's WAN Bill of Rights.