West Unified Communications sat down with Zeus Kerravala of ZK Research to talk about hybrid SD-WAN.
Hi, I'm Zeus Kerravala, Principal Analyst with ZK Research, and I wanna welcome you to Whiteboard Fridays. I'm gonna talk to you a little bit about Hybrid SD-WANs, and the key components that make that up. SD-WANs have obviously been a hot topic over the last few years, and companies have a choice as to whether they want to build it using MPLS, broadband or a combination of both. And what my research shows is that over 80% of companies actually want to use the hybrid model, the important thing to understand when to use what type of technology.
So we'll first look at MPLS. So, MPLS has been around a long time, it's a tried-and-true technology, and one of the things it handles best is something called real-time traffic. So there, think about voice over IP, video conferencing, desktop virtualization, right? These are all real-time applications that need dedicated bandwidth, and the one thing MPLS brings is guaranteed classes of service.
The second thing that MPLS brings are SLAs. So, if you need to know that your traffic is gonna get from one point to the other in a certain period of time, you need the SLAs from your service provider to help...to guarantee that that's the case. Also, I think MPLS is better for long distances, international connections, nationwide connections. When you think about broadband, they tend to be reasonably deployed, but if I'm on an international company, and when I connect up offices in a number of different countries, MPLS is the better technology for that because of the ubiquity of the service.
And lastly, when performance outweighs agility, and I have to have certain levels of performance because I want my video call to go well, I want my desktop virtualization solution to work well. I want my CAD designers to be able to work around the globe, MPLS is superior in that way. So again, when performance outweighs agility.
Now broadband also has many benefits, and in fact, the price points of broadband have come down and the speeds have gone up to the point where they can be used for certain business purposes. I would use broadband for non real-time services, things like internet traffic, things like email, file sharing. When speed doesn't matter, broadband's a better medium because it's much lower cost, and in fact, if you offload that non real-time traffic from your MPLS connection, you can actually get more bang for your buck than of MPLS. Also, it's best effort in nature, and then I guess that goes hand in hand a little bit with non real-time. But these are the things when you think about...does the...it doesn't matter how long it takes the transport to happen, and I'm willing to live with best-effort-type networking. And if it happens to go down, I can just retransmit, right? So, broadband's superior there.
For regional deployments, so this would be in a certain area of the country, or even nationwide to some degree, most broadband providers tend to be regional in nature. In fact, I did a study last year and found that there are over 800 broadband providers in the U.S. Very few of them are actually real time in nature, so if I'm worried about one particular area of the country, broadband might be better there.
And when agility outweighs performance...With broadband, I can scale the services up, scale 'em down, things like Ethernet services are very popular that way. Broadband is a superior technology there. So between an MPLS and broadband, there's no real right answer here. It's really the combination of the two that's gonna allow me to deploy my Hybrid SD-WAN, and go with a network architecture that's built for today, but also can carry me into the future.