The State of the Enterprise WAN 2015

Aryaka finds that the public Internet is not ready to support mission-critical enterprise traffic

The State of the Enterprise WAN in 2015 is mixed. While certain components of the enterprise WAN are improving, other factors are actually hindering the enterprise’s ability to conduct business over the Internet, especially when application traffic must travel over long distances.

To gauge the State of the Enterprise WAN, we gathered anonymous, aggregated metrics from our own customer base. Our WAN as-a-Service solutions connect over 3000 customer sites across 50 countries in all six habitable continents.

A positive trend we observed is that first- and last-mile broadband links are improving globally, and this trend should continue as governments in regions such as APAC continue to invest in infrastructure, but that’s only a small part of the overall Internet picture.

Demand for bandwidth is growing at an exponential rate

Demand for bandwidth is at an all-time high, and we’ll probably be saying the same thing next year, and the year after, and so on. Demand is skyrocketing and shows no signs of slowing down.

To meet this demand, telecommunications giants tend to funnel their investments towards the first- and last-mile because they own those pieces of the Internet. The middle of the Internet, however, is a shared medium, and as such, investments in it are modest. As bandwidth demands continue to rise, this problem will only worsen.

Today, there are approximately 3 billion people online, or roughly 40 percent of the global population. That’s up from less than a billion people online in 2005, or less than 16 percent of the world’s population.

By 2020, however, we should hit a global tipping point where more than 66 percent of the world’s population comes online, or roughly 5 billion people. This is the claim Peter Diamondis, founder and chairman of the X PRIZE Foundation, makes in his new book Bold.

We agree with his assessment, although we would argue that with the accelerating adoption of smartphones and tablets, Diamondis’ forecast is probably a conservative one. His estimate also doesn’t factor in all of the bandwidth being gobbled up by machines, as the Machine-to-Machine communications (M2M) and Internet of Things (IoT) trends pick up steam.

The WAN’s hidden bottleneck: the middle mile

The middle mile stands in stark contrast to the improvements we observed over the last mile.

The middle mile, to put it bluntly, is under siege.

In addition to the lack of investment in the middle mile, the spike in demand for bandwidth is increasing at an almost exponential rate, which means that congestion is the rule, rather than the exception.

Cloud-based video, teleconferencing, and other rich media gobble up an ever-increasing amount of bandwidth. Meanwhile, people are clogging the Internet nearly 24 hours a day, since we can now stream movies, post status updates, check email, and even create graphics-rich presentations from smartphones and tablets. Add in emerging trends, such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communications, and, as you can guess, B2B traffic tends to be what suffers the most.

For our second annual report, we investigate a range of factors that influence enterprise WAN performance. We look at everything from last-mile investments in APAC to packet loss statistics, from the most commonly used applications to cloud usage trends and more.  .  .  .

Get your copy of the 2015 State of the Enterprise WAN report now.