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Talari WAN aggregation helps shake enterprise reliance on MPLS

WAN aggregation, coupled with WAN optimization, can help businesses take advantage of cheaper bandwidth options, while keeping reliability intact.

Talari Networks upgraded its WAN aggregation tools to support larger enterprises and more branch offices. Adaptive Private Networking version 4.0 -- the latest version of the software that powers Talari's WAN aggregation -- could help some enterprises replace private MPLS links with cheaper WAN services.

Enterprises are relying less on private networks as broadband Internet becomes an acceptable alternative -- or at least a complement -- to expensive, dedicated Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) links operated by a service provider. The combination of networks using WAN aggregation tools is increasing the reliability of the WAN and giving businesses access to cheaper bandwidth.

"The WAN used to be a given, with a certain amount of MPLS links with a set amount of capacity, and businesses had to figure out how to make that given capacity handle more traffic by compressing traffic," said Kevin Gavin, chief marketing officer at Talari. "But the WAN doesn't have to only consist of a set amount of capacity. If you can include cable modem, broadband and DSL networks, you don't have to accept only the MPLS."

WAN aggregation: A complement to traditional WAN optimization

WAN aggregation tools, a complement to WAN optimization technology, can redirect traffic to cheaper network links when an MPLS WAN link fails -- a must for any business relying on more than one network for their traffic, Gavin said. The latest version of Talari's Adaptive Private Networking (APN) 4.0 software can allow a single Talari appliance to support as many as 256 sites, doubling the scale of the product.

"This increase in scale allows Talari to support larger networks and more endpoints, and move into a domain reaching larger companies than they have in the past," said Peter Christy, research director of networking at New York-based 451 Research.

Talari physical and virtual appliances make routing decisions based on the quality of each link and which path is the best available for the traffic. As businesses start to have more demanding applications and traffic -- such as voice and video -- flowing over their network, they need help making the most of their available connections in a cost-effective way, Christy said.

"If a business had three networks – say, an MPLS, a cable modem and DSL [Digital Subscriber Line]-- APN uses all three links. We can steer around problems, like avoiding a down MPLS link or a congested link for latency-sensitive packets," Talari's Gavin said.

More on WAN aggregation:

Clarifying WAN optimization, virtualization and aggregation

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Enhancing the service delivery model with WAN, application optimization

Coverys, a Boston-based medical liability insurance provider is using Riverbed technology for WAN optimization and Talari appliances for WAN aggregation. Coverys began deploying Talari appliances at each of it locations last year when the company began to rethink its network in preparation for the relocation of its four offices, as well as the addition of a fifth branch office, said Eric Crockett, vice president of IT at Coverys.

Coverys now uses two circuits per office -- one MPLS link and one public Internet link. "Based on the office moves we were doing, we were looking for something to assist with redundancy, and it certainly helps with bandwidth utilization and load balancing, too," Crockett said.

While Riverbed appliances are optimizing certain types of traffic, Crockett and his team are using Talari for an extra performance boost and business continuity. "If one circuit fails, we can continue to run without any hiccups, and we don't have to pay for two MPLS links [per office]," he said.

WAN aggregation and performance management

Since Talari APN appliances already contain real-time information about network quality, including packet loss, latency and jitter, the vendor's latest releases have focused on collecting performance information from every APN appliance. Talari can feed this data into APN Aware, a browser-based network performance monitoring and reporting application that IT professionals can use to troubleshoot and manage network and application performance forensically or in real time. Some customers are combining Talari's WAN aggregation with performance management for greater visibility, 451 Research's Christy said.

Coverys relies in part on a local carrier network, and up until now, the company had no visibility into issues with the carriers' performance or any way to troubleshoot them. Crockett and his team enjoy having the performance reporting functionality Talari technology offers, he said. "In the past, it was hard to prove that issues were not on our network but rather within the carrier's network," he said.

As networks evolve, WAN optimization isn't enough, and dynamic WAN management is needed, Christy said. "There are a lot of technical alternatives to the WAN now, and many vendors assume a business is just using MPLS. Sometimes, a business needs to make a WAN out of various network bits and pieces, and make the best out of what is in the area, and how it's operating at the moment," he said.

Let us know what you think about the story; email: Gina Narcisi, news writer and follow @GeeNarcisi on Twitter.

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