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The market for hybrid network services is growing rapidly. This is driven, in large measure, by the increase in enterprise bandwidth consumption -- growing by 30%, according to Gartner. This staggering growth is mainly due to the increase in the number of devices connecting to corporate networks, the types of business-critical applications being employed and the increasing use of video communications. Bandwidth costs, meantime, are also expected to plummet.
Hybrid WANs permit dynamic traffic engineering across both private and public domains. They incorporate a variety of options -- from private networks and VPN services to internet and cloud connectivity -- which means businesses can tap into the option that best fits their environment.
Enterprises can create hybrid WANs by mixing and matching technologies for their own customized network needs. Each option -- MPLS, public internet or cloud -- has its own strengths. Together, they can form a stable of complementary choices for building the perfect enterprise network.
In addition, for key network functions, such as routers, firewalls, enterprise session border controllers or WAN optimization, companies can mix and match among on-premises, cloud-based and distributed network functions virtualization (NFV) models to further fine-tune their environments.
MPLS comes with a guarantee from the service provider. Creating WAN designs that incorporate both the internet and traditional MPLS to support evolving application deployment models can provide a level of business continuity and optimize traffic flows between the internet and MPLS for all applications.
Software-defined networking offers other benefits, including dynamic bandwidth allocation, improved performance for critical applications and greater flexibility for business changes.
According to Ashton, Metzler & Associates, 75% of enterprises are evaluating SDN in concept, in a lab or limited trial, while 25% are running SD-WANs in a lab, limited trial or production environment.
In addition, NFV works hand in hand with SDN for quickly deploying network capabilities via software running on commodity hardware and in the cloud.
Hybrid WANs are a way to optimize network resources immediately, but also in the future. As businesses continue to transform themselves with technology, it is time for the network to rise up and fulfill its full potential as the true enabler of business.
About the author: Tim Naramore is CTO of Masergy.
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