WAN Optimization Lives On—Probably
by Christine Cignoli on

Either WAN optimization is dead, or it’s more important than ever. This story argues that WAN optimization reached its peak in the era of limited bandwidth. Now, though, the technology has lost its usefulness because it can’t improve VoIP or video streaming application performance. On the other hand, this analyst says that WAN optimization should be a no-brainer when using SD-WAN. He argues that the two tools are effective together, and that separating them isn’t a logical option. Anything that can be used to improve application performance should be used.

With all the hype around SD-WAN, it’s easy to forget that the market, including the vendors and their products, are still very new in technology terms. Potential buyers of SD-WAN tools have to remember that and make sure to shop around. If you’re considering SD-WAN, look for stability in the tool, and make sure the features advertised are all available now. Try, if at all possible, to go with a provider that has a chance of surviving past a year or two. This story notes that SD-WAN products are mostly offered today by ISPs, along with managed services providers and others. This is likely a good thing in the long term for IT teams, who don’t need to keep adding a new vendor for every application, tool or service.

One service provider now offering SD-WAN—CenturyLink—doesn’t think the new technology will cut into its MPLS business. Their MPLS numbers are holding steady thanks to small- and medium-sized business customers, who presumably aren’t ready for SD-WAN deployment. The company’s expectation is that there will be a transitional period where the larger enterprise customers run SD-WAN at remote sites and MPLS at larger sites. That could be a model for the industry overall, but only time will tell.

A speed update comes to Ethernet, as the 400GbE standard was introduced earlier this year. It’s exciting to hear about these kinds of speed increases, even though most of us won’t use it, now or maybe ever. 400GbE brings a fourfold speed increase over 100GbE, naturally, but is also denser and cheaper per port. The top-tier companies that might need 400GbE speed and efficiency are telecom providers, cloud providers and distributed businesses or campuses. Of course, plenty of distributed businesses may have to be satisfied with 10GbE (or slower) for a long time to come while they make other network infrastructure improvements.

Finally, here’s a look at where IT jobs stand these days. A lot of IT jobs have changed dramatically in the past few years, with old titles like enterprise architect or network engineer being replaced with new ones like cloud architect or cloud-native developer. This story lays out the potential path toward a better-paying, more secure job for various IT team members. For example, network engineers should focus on networking for specific public cloud providers like AWS.

Till next week, keep those networks up and running.

Filed Under: Industry Insights, Networking Technology

Tags: ethernet , SD WAN , WAN optimization