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How SD-WAN Brought VMware Branch Offices into the Cloud Era

by: VMware Director of Solutions Engineering and Design Swapnil Hendre

As a major enterprise, VMware has global offices that must be interconnected for a multitude of voice and data services, as well as operational efficiencies. Unfortunately, the existing traditional router-based virtual private networks (VPNs) and multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) connection solutions were prohibitively expensive thanks to the labor-intensive nature of updating their configurations. These WAN architectures were never designed to handle the intense and varied data traffic common to the cloud era.

After researching alternatives, VMware IT discovered software-defined WAN (SD-WAN)—designed specifically for cloud applications and similar resources—fit the bill. Deployed via our VMware SD-WAN by VeloCloud® solution, this new technology enables VMware’s offices to meet the unceasing demands of remote/on-site colleagues (end users) while offering unprecedented flexibility and connectivity.

Tackling the challenges head-on. Simply

Simple to deploy and maintain, VMware SD-WAN eliminates traditional challenges such as individual site-by-site management, CAPEX-centric hardware, and an exclusive dependence on MPLS for connectivity. Traditional premises-based routers are surprisingly complex to install and maintain.

Delving into the specific technology, proprietary VMware SD-WAN Dynamic Multipath Optimization (DMPO) replaced old-style edge routers. This resolved a significant barrier as the routers are unable to proactively optimize regular traffic before congestion becomes an issue—they ineffectively manage multi-service inbound quality of service (QoS). The team also deployed a new WAN standard for branch offices by using the internet alongside MPLS as an additional method of transport. VMware SD-WAN also offers the advantages of maintaining uptime, link remediation, as well as superior WAN aggregation and scalability.

Security on the go!

Naturally, security was a major concern with any such shift. VMware SD-WAN moves intelligence from the data plane to the programmable control plane. This enables standards-based encryption (such as AES) to provide secure connectivity over any type of transports, forming a highly secure cloud network that operates across any combination of public or private circuits.

A spectacular rollout

VMware SD-WAN implementation was rolled out in a variety of offices, including Chennai, India, and three US-based offices (San Francisco, Colorado Springs, and Coral Gables) with more coming on board soon.

In the San Francisco office, DMPO allowed automatic link monitoring, autodetection of which service provider was in use, and autoconfiguration of link characteristics, routing and QoS settings. Enhanced QoS—via the business policy—optimized the application behavior that drives queuing, bandwidth utilization, link steering, and mitigation of network errors.

In Colorado Springs, MPLS and internet circuits were migrated to management, improving network performance and eliminating the MPLS single point of failure. By taking advantage of this second site deployment, the team was able to utilize all three network overlays when communicating between two sites.

Finally, IT teams migrated internet circuits to VMware SD-WAN and replaced two edge routers during the Coral Gables pilot program. This solution provides improved network performance and allows connectivity to VMware sites without using MPLS. VMware will also be able to use overlays when communicating with the San Francisco and Colorado Springs, providing improved performance and reliability.

The combined results so far have been remarkably positive:

  • Upload and download speeds increased by 200 percent by sharing capacity on backup links.
  • DMPO and forward error correction (FEC) prevented packet loss and eliminated downtime.
  • MPLS single point of failure was eliminated for Tier 2 sites.
  • CAPEX costs were no longer an issue, and OPEX costs were dramatically reduced across the board.

Look for further updates as we expand into other offices across the globe.

VMware on VMware blogs are written by IT subject matter experts sharing stories about our digital transformation using VMware products and services in a global production environment. Contact your sales rep or vmwonvmw@vmware.com to schedule a briefing on this topic. Visit the VMware on VMware microsite and follow us on Twitter  


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