How to… Get Smart SD-WAN

If you have read a few of my blogs since I joined Aryaka, you’ll see that I blogged about Aryaka technologies such as SmartConnect and SmartEdge – in addition, we also have a capability called SmartCDN. So clearly, at Aryaka, we are all about smart things.

We have a few holidays creeping up our way (can you believe we’re in the last trimester of the 2010 decade?), so you’ll see us relax the tone of some of our blogs. To kick off three months of blogs that don’t always feature hardcore tech topics (which admittedly is my comfort zone, but hey), a few weeks ago we at Aryaka HQ were talking about the concept of “smart” stuff, and some remembered the legendary series “Get Smart.” Let’s be silly and explore its relevance to industry discussions about SD-WAN.

The premise is simple enough: A somewhat bumbling secret agent (Maxwell Smart, smart by name if not always by his chosen path of action) works for an organization called CONTROL (the good guys) and is always thwarting off the evil plots of an opposing organization called KAOS.

While I do work in product marketing these days, I shall never forget my experiences as a network engineer in the trenches, often precariously fighting to make sure I gained CONTROL over KAOS. See, it didn’t take me too long to build the bridge here.

Networking, for the longest time, has been a battle between CONTROL and KAOS, just as in the TV series, and network engineers -just like Maxwell Smart- have miraculously won the battle and kept control of their networks, despite the odds often being stacked against them by network complexity.

Let’s face it: unlike in the application world, which is now built on the power of abstraction, networking still perpetuates and takes pride in mastering complexity hands-on, mano-a-mano. There’s no doubt the old networking world -which now everybody seems to attack, but which I happened to enjoy a great deal- represented KAOS in some form: governed by proprietary CLIs and a node-by-node configuration approach to your network. And yet, it managed to become the foundation for a revolution that allowed the application world to be where it is now with its elegant abstractions. It’s ironic that the same dominant vendors that enabled that infrastructure innovation now claim it to be wasteful: McKinsey found out enterprises spend over $60B a year keeping their networks patched together. The same vendors that provided that very infrastructure now use that McKinsey study to motivate you to buy THEIR new, shiny SD-WAN Do-It-Yourself solution. It will erase the CLI evils of the past, supposedly. Yes, why not trust the same old fox with guarding your new hen house. What could possibly go wrong? ????

Never underestimate KAOS: They have some very capable and smart people working there, convinced their mission is for the betterment of humankind (or networking). And yet… there’s plenty of evidence that DIY SD-WAN remains very complicated. When an SD-WAN vendor proudly announces that the best way to approach SD-WAN deployment is to first completely retrain your (already top-certified) network domain experts, it doesn’t quite sound as new age and plug-and-play as promised, does it? It may mean procuring connectivity all over the planet, defining non-trivial policies (check publicly available design docs), verifying if it works in a pilot, painstakingly extending the footprint of the new overlay SD-WAN infrastructure, and deploying different visibility tools to monitor and reconcile virtual overlay and physical underlay performance… it’s just a new type of KAOS, in my opinion.

Luckily, team CONTROL -yes, I mean us at Aryaka- is here as well to provide network architects with a true intent-based approach for their next generation WAN. As a network architect, you can do the exact same thing your colleagues over in application architecture working as a DevOps team do: strike the perfect blend between harnessing the expertise and capabilities of an as-a-service provider with intuitive fine-tuning provided by a self-provisioning portal. Those capabilities sum up to total CONTROL of the network in the digital era.

The battle between KAOS and CONTROL will keep on raging for a while. And we here in CONTROL know it’s hard to let go of the thrill of successfully mastering KAOS; of providing a stable, reliable and fair network platform for your enterprise despite the complexity you must master every day to do so. We like to beat KAOS ourselves and have proudly managed to convert hundreds of enterprises to a model that simplifies their day-to-day operations, provides them with total 24-7-365 control of their cloud-first network and allows them to respond to business requirements with the same agility that characterizes DevOps application delivery.

Market trends seem to show that CONTROL will keep conquering new territory. Gartner predicts that Managed SD-WAN services will grow with a mind-boggling CAGR of 76% until 2024, while pretty much every other networking category will remain flat or even decrease.

As enterprises embark on their network transformation journey, which invariably will lead them to choose some form of SD-WAN deployment, the first question network architects should ask themselves is a very fundamental one: “Should I really be doing this myself from scratch, or should I leverage an as-a-service model as a foundation?” And perhaps check with your application architecture team, who may look a bit bewildered if you tell them you want to build up the equivalent of a self-managed server farm in-house.

In a nutshell, KAOS remains a powerful organization in networking, but trust us, we here in team Aryaka CONTROL will keep fighting the pitfalls of complex DIY SD-WAN implementations and help our customers achieve success in their network transformation as we unlock the combined strength of our expertise: they know their business needs like no one else and can define them by intent, and we at Aryaka have the expertise to resolve the intent into an optimal network infrastructure that fulfills those needs within 48 hours or less.

Stay tuned for #GetSmartSDWAN!

About the author

Paul Liesenberg
Paul is a Director in Aryaka’s Product Solutions Team. Paul has over 20 years of experience in product marketing, product management, sales engineering, business development and software engineering in Cisco, LiveAction, Bivio Networks and StrataCom. Paul enjoys scuba diving, motorcycles, open software projects and oil painting.
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