There's an increasing need for organizations to
communicate more effectively, whether it's within the office between offices
across different geographical locations. This calls for a robust communication
infrastructure. While local communication isn't so difficult, as you have
plenty of bandwidth on the LAN, and voice calls are also pretty cheap, the
trouble comes while communicating over long
distance. Using basic email and phone calls is just not
sufficient anymore. For instance, you can afford to have a web page not loading
from a website, but what if it's your business application? You can't afford
to have packet losses on that. Moreover, this communication has to happen over
secure links and in encrypted format. This also raises another question. Is your
business application optimized to work over WAN links? Can it work over a low
bandwidth connection? Several key trends are taking shape in WANs, which can
help in answering these questions. For instance, one Web technology making waves
in the Internet world is AJAX, which can help enterprise applications run over
low-bandwidth connections. IPVPNs are picking up for secure communication over
long distances, and there's even an option to outsource your WAN
infrastructure management. In this story, we look at all these and more for your
|IP-MPLS is the default choice|
Being more nimble and
closer to the customer as well as operating in a highly competitive
market, it should not come as a surprise that ISPs began offering VPN
could extend leased line networks only to select sites due to high cost
and the skills required to manage the same, even they are choosing VPN to
augment more and more sites within their networks. At the same time, for
many SMEs who could not ever think of multi-location leased line networks,
VPN opens up new opportunities. One needs to connect to the local PoP of
the service provider at the respective locations and thereafter, the
service provider ensures the transmission across different locations.
Moreover, the CIO can add and modify locations, bandwidth, priority and
even the physical media and/or routing-all this on-the-fly on a
real-time basis using a dashboard on his screen and respond to the
mission-critical business support system. In the times to come, security
and manageability would become more crucial as well as anything that lets
the users manage the priority in an even more dynamic and challenging
fashion. There would be a higher mix of physical media; the size of the
WANs is also set for massive growth-to thousands of locations as the
enterprise connectivity is extended to partners, vendors, suppliers and
Thus, a VPN offers reliability, security and quality on a public network with the added benefit of flexibility. Actually, VPN also bestows us with the benefits of openness and efficiency inherent in the Virtuous Public Network better known as the 'Internet'. Usage has also evolved to beyond just data to include voice and video. For more than one and a half year, the confusion over the licensing pre-requisites for VPN have kept many a prospects to take the plunge for VPN - more than anything else. However, that stage is over. In fact, in the latest amendments to the licenses 'leased line' itself has been defined as VPN!
IP VPNs are emerging as a popular WAN connectivity solution, since it provides both technological and business benefits over traditional VPN technologies. In fact, the world over, they're fast replacing legacy Frame Relay and ATM networks that were used by enterprises. This is largely because of the huge cost advantage that they offer over the legacy technologies.
Currently, there are several different types of deployments
available for IP VPNs. If the requirement is to provide remote access to
individual users, then that would use SSL or IPSec encryption for the job. As
SSL doesn't require any clients, it makes for the cheapest extranet solution.
As a result, SSL VPNs are the obvious choice for remote-access technology as
they integrate end-point security and stronger authentication within themselves
in the times to come.
If multiple sites are to be connected, then the solution is
site to site IP VPN, while if a very large enterprise class IP VPN is required,
then there's the Multi-Label Protocol Switching based IP VPN, which uses a
large carrier's MPLS solution. MPLS has gained momentum because with this one
technology you can converge all means of data transfer that include data, video
and audio. Consequently, standardization efforts need to be made for both
network-to-network and user-to-network interfaces. While MPLS seems to offer
great convergent solutions, quality of service and support for firewalling, spam
and content filtering, it lacks on one factor: that it does not offer the
required level of encryption. And that's the end where the IPsec picks up
from. It provides the necessary encryption to make use of the Internet as the
carrier for transferring data across WANs.
So these technologies have turned out to be serious
contenders with the enterprises for both fresh deployments as well as upgrades.
And what remains to be seen is which sectors of the enterprise go in for
building them themselves and which ones would want to buy them.
The philosophy deals with removing the latency associated with data transfer over WANs. Current WAN optimization devices claim to provide three to five times the native transfer speeds. For this, the devices use CIFS (Common Internet File Sharing) protocol. This is in line with the increase in the number of vendors offering WAFS (Wide Area File Services)-which is basically, file and print services over WANs. WAFS has a two-fold purpose: one, it helps take over file server facilities at branch office levels as well as provide a common data storage location for compliance purposes. WAFS devices are expected to take over a major share of enterprise WAN based file services in the coming years and a number of products are available from vendors such as Cisco, Juniper Networks and F5.
However, manageability of WAN optimization devices are
still not quite yet on-par with similar devices and systems-so, you would need
to seriously sit down with your vendor and look at what features it offers
before making the investment since downtimes here can become quite costly to
|Cut costs: outsource connectivity|
High speed links
We're witnessing a shift by corporates towards high capacity bandwidths.
This is being driven by reduction in costs of DS-3 links and STM1 links.
This enables enterprises to add more users and applications at the same
MPLS based networks
MPLS technology is becoming a popular option among organizations managing
multiple links. MPLS provides inherent benefits of higher speed, security
Instead of buying
multiple links, enterprises seek the assistance of Service providers
using Metro Ethernet networks or MPLS (Multi Protocol Label Switching)
based networks to provide secure virtual circuit connection services over
Ethernet networks to offer the benefits of traditional frame relay
connections, but much higher bandwidth at a lower cost.
other trend is to outsource wide area connectivity. This usually turns out
to be cost-effective and hassle free. The current trend is to use several
service providers in order to exploit the best capabilities of each, and
have a single-window entity for management, troubleshooting and payment.
An organization can use
a single service provider entity for all it's management, monitoring and
billing needs, and possibly a third party NOC that will manage and monitor
its WAN, and provide services like VPN, video-on-demand and managed
How would you like a network that is always available, ultra-reliable and very predictable at all times? Well, if Ciena's offering is not a dream, it does just that. It's called an 'Adaptive WAN' and is
Devices that are wireless and online are significantly going mainstream. These include both personal computers like laptops and smart phones. The advent of high-speed mobile communications (although not yet prevalent in India) like 3G are increasing the number and criticality of the enterprise applications that can be used from such devices.
The TIA (Telecommunications Industry Association, UK)
predicts that there would be about 270 million wireless devices in use and
online worldwide in the next three years. Already, we are well on the way there,
with 25 million wireless devices being deployed in the past one year alone.
This trend could well be helped along by the shot in the arm that wireless
services are due to get quite soon with the
A high 74% of the IT executives surveyed by a London-based firm earlier in February reported they outsourced their WAN worries, mostly because of lower running costs and manageability. Other major pain points included the ability to troubleshoot quickly, timely restoration of links and billing.
Running costs go on a rise when more workers logon to their
workplace from all over the globe as enterprises expand operations and move out
of their single-campus presence and seek out the world.
The ability to guarantee connectivity and reliability of
that connection to your remote workers needs personnel presence at those remote
sites, not a very pocket-friendly prospect for most enterprise, regardless of
size and skill. This necessitates off-loading those concerns to a third-party
entity, who may do it at a lesser cost.
Bandwidth costs have plummeted and availability has doubled over the past year. ISPs in India have correspondingly passed on those benefits to their customers-by upgrading bandwidth packages at no additional cost twice in the last one year. However, it appears that this has not come completely free of cost. There is a raging debate going on about how the rising costs of maintaining smooth functioning of the Internet be managed.
|Rajesh Shetty, Regional Manager – ITS, Cisco Systems – India and SAARC|
There is a move towards
the managed services scenario. Though we'll see greater adoption of MPLS
in the BFSI segments, largely due to the need to maintain and manage
multiple links; private networks will also continue to operate. For
instance, in the ITS
segment, we will
witness upgradation on the existing networks and infrastructure.
Having said that,
choosing solutions providers for one's IT infrastructure requirements can
be a tricky business. Several factors need to be looked into before SLAs
(Service Level Agreements) are finalized to ensure satisfactory levels of
There is also a need
for industry representatives, industry associations like Nasscom and IBA
and vendors to
partner to understand
and address the unique requirements of each vertical. This is essential to
ensure optimal performance and functionality of the networks.
Some say that the costs should be off-loaded onto the home
user, which has been subsidized by business accounts for a long time. This would
be accomplished by a user-neutral policy, where both sets of customers would be
treated on par by the ISP and provided QoS on par with each other. The other
camp believes that current parity needs to be maintained for fear of losing the
pie completely. A third camp advises an application-fee based regime where the
cost of service would be linked to the type of application (meaning high QoS
requiring applications like VoIP and video on the Net for instance would attract
higher fees). In this system, it would be the application service provider who
pays the fee, subsidizing the end-user.
IPv6 comes of age
IPv6 is no longer a protocol that's best implemented in a lab or a network run by geeks. It has come of age and is proving itself on both performance as well as robustness. In response to the Internet2 challenge, the University of Tokyo along with Pacific Northwest Gigapop, JGN2, WIDE Project and Chelsio Communications successfully achieved a data rate of 6.18 Gbps over five different public international networks covering well over 18,600 miles of cabling. In comparison, the IPv4 record stands at 7.99 Gbps for the same distance but over eight networks. This is being seen as proof that IPv6 can now handle high-performance network applications and can take over from IPv4.
On the software front, the new Windows OS (Vista)
integrates support for IPv6 protocol in a big way- it is installed by default
and wherever you can configure IPv4
Triple play is the term used to
This war of course is well-watered down in India. However,
in the USA, which is seeking to battle with the penetration levels of broadband
Internet in the ASEAN, this is an aggressive
The Net Neutrality bill (so to say, 'Internet Non
Discrimination Act 2006') introduced in the US
We are all used to our network speeds not being 'quite there', even if we're using theoretically fat pipes (like 100 Mbps or even gigabit links). This is because of the way standard TCP works. TCP is, when you get down to analyzing it for high-traffic networks, a really really bad and miserly protocol.
What it does is when it detects the slightest hint of
sluggishness on the wire, it compensates heavily and ends up sending much
smaller packets than it actually can. In the same way, it never makes full use
of the pipe when the traffic is low enough either. This is easily fixed
In India, both ISPs and vendors are talking about MPLS in a
big way. Banks have already adopted it. When will other sectors like
manufacturing and business services follow? That's worth watching.
Rinku Tyagi and Sujay V Sarma