Aryaka Networks - Delivering SD-WAN Globally
I had an opportunity last week to talk with the team at Aryaka networks, a cloud-based global Software Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN) company that has seen growing success. With over 600 customers, most with offices in multiple global regions, the Aryaka solution seems to be gaining traction as a replacement for MPLS, even for organizations with stringent SLA requirements like manufacturing. The Aryaka team indicated that more than 95% of their customers are globally distributed enterprises with 30-40% from manufacturing where network performance is critical.
SD-WAN has seen explosive consideration and adoption as it can provide three key factors versus traditional MPLS solutions:
- SD-WAN solutions use generic IP pipes from a range of ISPs for the local access to the business location. This allows access to be purchased locally from the best source and not from an aggregated MPLS provider. Typical costs per bit for MPLS versus a generic internet access pipe are up to 10 times higher. SD-WAN can deliver a significant reduction in WAN costs.
- Cloud delivery of IT application solutions is becoming a dominant part of most IT solution sets. With cloud rapidly approaching 50% of IT solutions, connectivity to the cloud data centers of the SaaS vendors is critical. While there are some specific MPLS connections, an SD-WAN can optimize traffic to a range of cloud data center locations, enhancing performance and reducing the cost of a hairpin backhaul through a central enterprise site.
- Enhanced performance where MPLS is not available. For a large set of users, whether in smaller offices that cannot justify the MPLS connection cost or telecommuters and travelers, a clientless SD-WAN enhance performance for these users as well and integrate them into the overall network and also enhance cloud applications operation.
There are a range of SD-WAN options, from enhancements to existing routers to service providers offering their own SD-WAN. Each solution has a set of factors and complexity that defines what that solution is best applied to.
Aryaka is delivering an SD-WAN solution that they characterize as a global solution. The solution includes 28 strategically placed Points of Presence (POPs) that are where the IP traffic flows to/from either an appliance at a branch site or directly from a client device. Aryaka has built a private layer 2 network between the POPs to isolate traffic from the waves of congestion that pass through the internet, often impacting traffic as routes become congested with utilization of the paths that are locked.
In an SD-WAN solution, there are three key aspects of how the SD-WAN delivers value to be considered:
- Last Mile – How does the SD-WAN manage traffic from the branch location into and through the network? In a cloud-based SD-WAN, this is the path from that location to one or more of the POPs. In a traditional IP network, each IP flow is “assigned” a path for the duration of that IP flow by BGP or OSPF. If there is congestion in the path from the edge ISP into the internet or to a POP, that can be mitigated by the SD-WAN opening a number of different IP paths and choosing one to use at a point in time based on the best performance. Or it can be mitigated by changing the POP that the traffic flows to. In the Aryaka solution, branches with appliances can have both multipath and multi-POP to both application improvement and high-availability by mitigating the impacts of Internet events and congestion. In the Aryaka case, the company claims that 95% of locations globally will be within 30 milliseconds of latency to a POP. For standalone client endpoints, the solution uses intelligent DNS-based routing to the best-performing POP to mitigate the impact of the last mile.
- Core Network – For a cloud-based SD-WAN solution with POPs, the next factor is how the POPs communicate. This can be through a dedicated private network between the POPs or by using similar multi-IP paths between the POPs and routing flows into the optimal path. A private network is the best way to avoid issues with performance and congestion in the core internet. In fact, most experts indicate that the biggest issue to determinism of using the Internet for traffic that needs low latency and low packet loss is the variability in the core of the Internet. The reason is that IP flows are established with a “best” route when they are initiated. As the network characteristics change due to traffic and congestion, this path remains “nailed up.” So, if your business traffic is on the path that is loading a million videos of the latest kitten video viral sensation, the performance suffers. In my conversation with the Aryaka team, they indicated that their private network optimizes the overall performance and SLA, which they believe is why they have seen vertical organizations like manufacturing adopt their solution.
- Connections to Strategic Cloud Data centers – The last aspect of SD-WAN is how the SD-WAN connects into the cloud data center where applications are running. While some applications will be running in the large cloud infrastructure providers like Amazon and Azure, the reality is that the majority of SaaS applications are actually hosted in private data centers or in private co-location facilities. The key for SD-WAN is having a defined access method to as many of the large cloud infrastructure and SaaS locations as possible. This requires locating POPs at the right locations globally to minimize the access hops and variability to those locations. Any consideration of a cloud SD-WAN vendor should include an analysis of both current and potential cloud apps and the support level of the vendor. While I did not do a detailed analysis of the Aryaka solution, Aryaka claims the solution provides the equivalent of Direct Connect and optimized access to cloud services and SaaS applications – this includes infrastructure providers like Amazon and Azure as well as SaaS applications like SAP, Box, Salesforce, Office 365, etc. In addition to the private connectivity, the Aryaka SD-WAN incudes WAN optimization for both general traffic and these application centers as well.
SD-WAN is clearly a technology that any mid to large size enterprise currently deploying MPLS or moving to the cloud should evaluate for consideration. The applicability and impact of SD-WAN will vary depending on the network configuration, locations, and use, but the potential for SD-WAN to have a significant value and ROI seems high. Based on the discussions with the Aryaka team, their solution, including optimization for cloud/SaaS apps, WAN acceleration, last mile optimization, global POPs, and private inter-POP network may be optimal for a range of potential use cases.