By: Kent Erickson >>Back in May Viptela and Zenoss announced a technology partnership around Viptela’s SD-WAN solution. If you look around you’ll see a ton of partnership announcements, and most of them never amount to anything. This one is different.
Since May, we’ve jointly built and are managing the world’s largest SD-WAN network. 2,700 branch offices, 5,400 policy-managed routers supporting a multi-billion dollar financial institution. The SD-WAN network replaced a prior MPLS network.
Why would anyone want to upgrade 2,700 branch office sites?
Simply because business applications have changed, and the MPLS network was not keeping up.
- MPLS is a poor choice for Internet services. Software services delivered over the internet – think Salesforce, LinkedIn, Google Apps, Office 365 – are a huge part of our work lives. For employees in branch offices, the MPLS network provided sub-standard performance. A connection from the branch to Salesforce had to traverse two WAN network segments before it reached the Internet. And the corporation had to pay more for this slow service as Internet-bound traffic was routed across multiple WAN segments.
- MPLS redundancy is complex and expensive. The institution relies on branch office transactions to serve customers and generate profit. There’s a clear business need to build redundancy into the WAN network to reduce the risk of network failures. But the cost of that in an MPLS network is tremendous.
- MPLS administration is difficult and error-prone. Changing routes, QOS, or security is challenging in an MPLS network, as many different devices need to be configured at more or less the same time. There’s no central point of control
Is the Viptela SD-WAN deployment fixing all of these pains? Heck yeah! It’s all puppy dogs and rainbows now. Seriously, it’s working great.
Jim Duffy, Senior Analyst, Networking at 451 Research agrees. “Distributed enterprises are using high-volume cloud applications that suffer from latency, poor quality of service, and downtime. Software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) solutions help address the network challenges and benefit greatly from a unified monitoring solution for end-to-end visibility into all transactions. Key relationships like this one between Zenoss and Viptela, are forming to address this.”
Branch offices now have both MPLS and direct Internet connections, which means SaaS services are fast with cheaper connectivity, and since the Viptela routers can automatically switch the MPLS service to secure Internet redundancy is built in. Actually there’s more, because there could be an LTE connection, too. Hooray for triple redundancy!
And the Viptela vManage service gives our financial institution centralized, policy-based control over connectivity. Need to roll out new application prioritization by reconfiguring thousands of routers? No problem, one central change and it’s done. Oops? Put it back, and it’s all fixed.
If you want to get more information on Viptela’s solution, I’ll point you to this nice paper.
Monitoring a Large Scale WAN with Zenoss Service Dynamics
Zenoss is a key part of the branch office upgrade. Our software is monitoring two network devices per branch, more than 5,000 total devices. Since we’re already managing the entire data center, that means branch office and data center monitoring are now unified, which makes problem determination much, much faster.
For example, if someone calls up and says “Is the location on Dupont Circle up?” the team can search for Dupont and instantly find the right router.
A quick click and we know if there’s a WAN issue or we need to look elsewhere. And we didn’t even need to know what city or state Dupont Circle was even in.
We’re also keeping the enterprise CMDB up to date for the branch office equipment. If you buy 5,000 network devices, asset tracking is critical to the finance team. But nobody should have to type all that information in. Zenoss to the rescue!
And of course you get all the traditional device monitoring, with automatic discovery for each new or changed device.
One of the great advantages of working with Viptela is that we’re able to provide full fault and performance monitoring for all 2,700 branch offices without using any WAN bandwidth. All the data we need we get directly from the Viptela vManage central control point. It’s great to not use expensive WAN bandwidth for monitoring, isn’t it?
We’ve got a ton of great ideas for where to go next with this integration – capacity alerting, automatic diagnostic tests, network root cause analysis – and we’re looking for customers to build with. Let us know if you want to upgrade your WAN management!