Going Cloud-First to Accelerate WAN Transformation

By: Ashwath Nagaraj

For network architects and engineers, the WAN experience is typically seen through the eyes of telco carrier relationships. In many cases, this experience isn’t necessarily a positive one. The process of working with a telco carrier to design an enterprise WAN requires negotiating contracts and rates, provisioning and installing new circuits, addressing performance issues and outages, and managing service-level agreements (SLAs) on an ongoing basis. This can all be challenging to say the least. When you include the complex peering relationships that carriers must maintain to deliver global connectivity and the fact that the term “agile” doesn't immediately come to mind when describing the telco industry, you may conclude that the overall experience is not a good one.

Cloud-first WAN architecture

Unlike the telco carrier relationship defined above, a cloud-first WAN experience changes this paradigm. And we’re not just talking about public clouds. It’s an overall experience that is predicated on business agility, operational simplicity and consistent multi-cloud deployments. It does all of this while leveraging the cloud consumption model.

Think about it like this: computing has evolved from a model in which the enterprise owned, operated, and maintained its applications and infrastructure in an on-premises data center to a cloud consumption model. Similarly, the cloud-first WAN experience evolves the legacy networking model to a network consumption model in which the enterprise and the network provider share responsibility for the WAN applications and infrastructure.

Fig 1: Taking a platform approach with a cloud-first WAN
(click to enlarge)

What’s more, the consumption model simplifies service delivery, transforming it from a manual process that requires a lot of training to an automated process that many call “intent-driven.”

A cloud-first WAN experience should deliver predictable end-to-end performance consumed “as-a-service,” which should result in a superior user and application experience.

Cloud-first WANs should improve business agility. In an era where time-to-market is measured in minutes, hours and days, organizations need a WAN that uses a cloud consumption model, specifically an OPEX-based offering that features flexible billing and ease of service integration. It is this new network consumption model that drives agility, which permits IT and infrastructure teams to quickly adapt to the needs of the business. This includes quickly changing business priorities, integrated supply chains


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