Gary Audin
Gary Audin is the President of Delphi, Inc. He has more than 40 years of computer, communications and security...
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Gary Audin | July 01, 2016 |


Enterprise WAN Evolves to Service Model

Enterprise WAN Evolves to Service Model The static legacy WAN configuration is becoming a thing of the past.

The static legacy WAN configuration is becoming a thing of the past.

For many years the WAN has been viewed as a transport system where the enterprise and the provider each managed their components. However, the advent and rise of the cloud has led to the consideration that maybe the enterprise WAN can use a WAN as a Service (WaaS). This is a strategic change for the enterprise and the provider.

The WAN of the Past

The legacy WAN has been a relatively static configuration. It did not change frequently or rapidly because business operations evolved slowly. It took so long to change configuration and services because of the long lead time to add or delete capacity and respond to failures. IT is migrating to a software-defined structure both for networks and the data center. The old tactical cost-based model no longer satisfies the business requirements of today.

The WAN is essential to successful enterprise operation. A poorly operating WAN causes most enterprises to operate with reduced, postponed, or lost productivity. When the WAN is up, it satisfies the business drivers of the enterprise, including:

  • Cost effective operation
  • Productivity delivery
  • Response to changes with agile and flexible services
  • Reliable access to resources
  • Access to resources from anywhere at any time
  • Excellent risk and security management
  • Asset management
  • Satisfy compliance requirements

These drivers should also be supported by a WaaS offering.

The Challenged Enterprise

There are multiple, wide-ranging challenges facing enterprise IT staff. Enterprises now select cloud-based services and use the Internet for business. The challenges have expanded to embrace a wider range of service providers, technologies, and applications. The responsibilities of those managing the WAN today include:

  • Secure and effective resource management
  • Cost reduction and containment
  • Delivering required performance
  • Complying with standards
  • Business continuity
  • Delivering remote user capabilities the same as on premises
  • Supporting big data, IoT, and social network traffic
  • Rapidly responding to business and condition changes while sustaining acceptable operation
  • Interoperating within the enterprise and externally with third-party resources (cloud-based services and social networks)
  • Allocating IT staff to important projects
  • Network operations visibility
  • Capacity planning and delivery
  • Collect and process real-time network analytics

As before, these challenges should also be satisfied by a WaaS offering.

WaaS Selection

If a WAN as Service (WaaS) is selected to provide WAN support, the biggest challenge is to deliver the WaaS service equally as good or better than the existing internal corporate WAN.

The WAN strategy is the roadmap that connects the organizations, customers, users, and external digital resources into the future. The traditional WAN is under stress, and needs to evolve. You need to exploit it, not settle with it.

The technology used to implement the WAN has changed as new services, endpoints, and technologies have been introduced and older technologies have retired or are no longer supported. The requirements to manage the WAN properly and efficiently have not changed. What is changing are the mechanisms used to implement, allocate, operate, manage, and monitor the WAN.

The WAN is a tool to support the organization, a tool that can be better implemented and managed by a separate entity that is comprised of experts. This is the concept of the WAN as a Service (WaaS), an alternative to the traditional WAN.

Impact on the Network Architecture

The first thing that comes to mind for the network of the future is a network that can be both resilient and change rapidly. Flexibility is the key. The old idea is dying that the network will be stable and all you need to do is add bandwidth. Software-defined networks, the SD-WAN is an answer for WaaS. Software-defined IT leads to selecting a WaaS.

Webtorials reports on the State of the WAN each year. Their current version of the report is the "2015 State of the WAN Report," and includes insight into the factors that are driving WAN changes.


The dominant three factors are not related to cost, which is the fifth factor of concern. The support of real-time applications is first, followed by increased security and improved application performance. Delivering better performance comes before cost reduction. The traditional WAN design costs more when delivering improved performance when compared to a WaaS solution.


The same Webtorials report surveyed the drivers for the software-defined network. Similarly here, cost reduction, both OPEX and CAPEX, do not dominate. The top four drivers are flexibility, simplification, rapid function deployment, and improved application performance. As business changes rapidly, the network has to change in response. Flexibility with simpler operation is hard to deliver with the traditional WAN architecture.


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