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With Gartner reporting that most enterprises now adopt a Hybrid Cloud strategy and that a majority of Virtual Machines will be IaaS hosted by 2020, it’s clear that the outlook is Cloudy for the enterprise, and especially when the Cloud transition is enacted over a legacy WAN infrastructure.

With few organisations adopting a no-Cloud policy, the majority now sit amongst their mainstream peers now using a hybrid mixture of IaaS, PaaS, SaaS and Private Cloud to deliver a proportion of their production workloads and enterprise mobility.

The extent to which Cloud forms a part of the IT strategy must influence the characteristics for the enterprise WAN. For the Cloud adopter, simply demanding “faster and cheaper” at the next contract anniversary with their Internet Service Provider, rather than the more strategic but less quantifiable metrics such as resiliency, traffic engineering, security, agility and path-quality is a black-and-white approach that prevents these complex but essential factors clouding their judgement on their best ISP for Cloud connectivity.

For most, the Internet pipes out of our organisations are going to become even more critical over the next few years. Placing an order for raw Mbps based on back-of-the-envelope maths, and checking that you’ll get £x back if it’s down for more than x hours is, whilst typical, no more than a ‘pay-and-pray’ approach to the successful delivery of a Cloud WAN strategy.

The Internet link is no longer an extension of an internal client-server infrastructure – it’s now the critical backbone that connects our users to their Cloud applications, and should be provisioned with all of the scrutiny, flexibility and capability that goes into the design of the internal enterprise network. Simply accepting a traditional static, inflexible WAN architecture over a mesh of IPSec VPN’s or over a complex private network like MPLS will radically limit the attractiveness of Cloud as a scalable and location independent technology.

We run QoS to support applications across our LAN; and that QoS must be honoured end-to-end across the Cloud optimised WAN!
We run resilient load-balanced paths around the LAN, so efficient multi-pathing must feature in the enterprise WAN!
We steer traffic directly and efficiently across our LAN, so our WAN must also follow the shortest, most efficient path from A-to-B!
We can provision new services across our LAN in an instant, and the enterprise WAN must also offer this ease and agility.

Customers must re-evaluate their WAN requirements to establish if they should follow a modernised strategy, as a departure from traditional static Internet links or MPLS environments, with Software Defined WAN’s (SD-WAN) and Ethernet Fabrics like Avaya’s Fabric Connect now able to combine to deliver LAN-like control, visibility and flexibility as a next-generation WAN infrastructure optimised for multi-service, multi-centred Cloud application delivery.

To preserve the agility of Cloud from the IaaS provider into the branch, the Cloud optimised WAN should support the simple and dynamic provisioning of new sites, services, applications and bandwidth end-to-end across a unified topology that can simultaneously connect together the complex basket of Cloud infrastructure and services that form a modern Hybrid Cloud strategy. Unified orchestration of network services through a Software Defined WAN platform that integrates the Cloud IaaS infrastructure into the WAN-topology as a borderless solution hands Customers the complete control of their WAN-Cloud infrastructure, enabling the freedom to build new prioritised traffic flows VM-to-edge and site-to-site across a truly application aware infrastructure, with the added flexibility to decouple VM’s from the physical location silos necessitated by a traditional MPLS or IP routed networks.

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