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WANnovation at Aryaka – Software Defined Networking and Virtualized Network Functions

In the past couple of years, Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) have taken the networking industry by storm, and every vendor and service provider wants to stake their claim in these emerging spaces.

The goal of SDN is to simplify networking by allowing network administrators to manage network services through abstracting lower level functionality. This is done by decoupling the system that makes decisions on where the traffic is sent (control plane) from the underlying system that forwards traffic to its destination (data plane).

The purpose of NFV is similar. NFV was developed to replace special purpose-built vendor appliances with standard, commodity off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware to provide network services using virtualization technologies. These two trends are complementary, but whereas SDN emerged in the enterprise data center, developed by data center architects, NFV was created by a consortium of service providers, who felt that hardware-based networking appliances were holding them back from introducing the new network services virtualization made possible.

The Global Networking Challenge

Legacy, hardware-based architectures lack two things today’s global businesses desperately need: flexibility and agility. Global businesses don’t have time for the expensive, hardware-heavy complexity of MPLS, traditional WAN optimization, and CDN solutions. Legacy approaches just don’t cut it in today’s hyper-competitive economic landscape. MPLS networks built on the promise of QoS for voice and video traffic fell behind when it comes to agility and performance. To overcome the limitations of MPLS, traditional WAN optimization vendors threw expensive, proprietary hardware at the problem – boxes that still relied on the underlying network, while requiring massive IT resources for deployment, maintenance, and management. And CDNs were never tailored to address B2B needs in the first place. CDN vendors have always focused on consumer-facing websites with high traffic volumes, and they’ve more or less ignored the enterprise’s need for accelerated, reliable B2B traffic delivery.

To keep pace with constantly changing demands, the global enterprise needs a business-grade, on-demand networking solution that is quick to deploy, simple to manage, and completely reliable. The hybrid WAN needs a radically different approach to data and application delivery, acceleration, and optimization, one purpose-built for our cloud, mobile, rich-media-heavy age.

How Aryaka extends SDN and NFV concepts into the WAN

Aryaka was built to challenge traditional network architectures that are slow to deploy and expensive to maintain.  One of the founding philosophies of Aryaka Networks was to make the enterprise WAN agile, flexible, and scalable.

This approach is already paying off, and the networking industry is starting to notice. When Aryaka was recently awarded the 2015 SDN Excellence Award, presented by TMC’s INTERNET TELEPHONY magazine and SDN Zone, here’s what Ajit Gupta, our Founder, President, and CEO, had to say about it:

“Ever since we were founded back in 2009, Aryaka has been invested in software-defined networking. We weren’t calling it SDN back then, but the principle was the same: move the intelligence off of hardware and into cloud-based software. That evolution allows enterprises to shift to a business-centric approach to networking that is far more agile, flexible, and scalable than legacy architectures allowed.”

As we were building our award-winning Aryaka ONE network, we were not looking to build Ethernet switches and controllers to manage those switches. Our focus was the software-defined WAN, or SD-WAN. But because of globalization, mobility, and cloud adoption, the WAN itself was in a state of flux. CIOs and network managers were facing a whole new set of networking challenges. And their bosses expected them to deliver – yesterday.  Agility, flexibility, and scalability were key. Thus, we realized that our network architecture needed to be software defined.

We also understood early on that WAN optimization did not require any special hardware and all that was needed was a standard server with Compute, Storage, and Network functionalities.  Therefore, all of our proprietary optimization software stack was hosted on standard COTS hardware to start with. We needed to build multi-tenancy into our network, and we used virtualization techniques to address this, instead of repeating a hardware device for every customer. So, we took multiple network functions like a VPN router, NAT gateway, WAN optimization, and HTTP proxy, and virtualized them on COTS hardware. We did all of this before 2010, before the world started talking about NFV.

How do you deploy so quickly?

Of course, when you think big and come up with a solution that challenges the status quo, you’ll encounter skeptics. For instance, one of the most common questions we hear from prospects, prospects who have been constantly told that new deployments take a very long time, is: “How can you provision my enterprise with business-grade private connectivity with built-in WAN optimization in less than a business day, when it takes legacy providers months to deploy MPLS plus WAN optimization?”

Here’s the short answer: we use our resources wisely. We don’t throw personnel at the problem. We don’t deploy quickly by having 10 engineers configure complex CLIs, power-up devices, and then cable them. Those are repetitive, mundane tasks, ones ripe for elimination or automation. Instead, we built a powerful, multi-tenant software orchestrator to turn on these virtual network functions on-demand.

We also can deploy in less than a day because we built our own global core network to serve as the foundation of all of our services. It’s akin to write-once, run-anywhere software. We built once and can deploy anywhere – in less than a day. Aryaka ONE (One Network for the Enterprise) is the world’s first and only global, private, optimized, secure, and on-demand network. Aryaka ONE serves as the foundation for Aryaka’s suite of network connectivity and application acceleration solutions, which are purpose-built for enterprise WAN connectivity and application acceleration needs, using Software Defined Networking principles on NFV-like hardware.

But just because you deploy quickly doesn’t mean you can use speed as an excuse to overlook other features enterprises need, such as visibility. Another major focus for us, as a SaaS-based networking provider, was to monitor the services we offered for operational efficiencies. So, we built a world-class, multi-tenant, web-based monitoring dashboard for our customer support team, who use it to detect alarms, failures, network inefficiencies, and performance degradation, to name a few. We also built a customer-facing MyAryakaTM visibility platform to offer CIOs and network managers visibility into their WANs.

When you hear other vendors talking about SDN and NFV, remember that Aryaka embraced those concepts before they’d become the latest tech buzzwords.  Aryaka has built a powerful platform to host virtual network functions that can be orchestrated and monitored with deep visibility, and we did it using innovative software technology on COTS hardware. In fact, we were the first to embrace NFV concepts and deliver a software defined platform for the enterprise WAN. But don’t take our word for it; experience WANnovation for yourself.