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SDN blogs: Is WAN virtualization worthwhile?

SDN blogs: Network professionals talk about the benefits of virtualizing your WAN, why learning about APIs is crucial and when to upgrade to new software.

Certain features are necessary in a dependable WAN, including a great deal of bandwidth, reliable link quality, strong SLAs and low delay and jitter. Yet nowadays, it can seem impossible to find this ideal combination at a reasonable price. Enter WAN virtualization. According to network professional Zafer Polat in his recent post on Packet Pushers, virtualizing your WAN could be the solution you're looking for.

Virtual WANs -- aka SD-WANs -- insert an intelligent layer between a user's existing physical WAN resources. That intelligence allows the segregation of traffic to different QoS classes, enabling all links in the WAN to be easily combined. In addition, the architecture has the capacity to recognize any failures and take necessary action to solve them.

Polat still questions whether or not switching to a virtualized WAN is worthwhile, mentioning the operational challenges this type of change can cause. He also says that many of the vendors that are ahead of the game in selling these products are startups and might not be reputable or reliable enough to invest in.

That said, Polat concludes that network managers should at least begin weighing their options when it comes to SD-WAN.

"As a last word, I can say that this is a promising technology, which will be entering into our WANs this way or the other soon," he said. "Better to exploit it sooner, than late."

Read his entire post here.

Learn about your APIs                                                          

In this fast-paced networking world, everyone agrees it is essential for network professionals to keep up with the times, but not everyone agrees on exactly what that entails. Andrew Lerner of the Gartner Network argues that network engineers must pay particular attention to application program interfaces (APIs) -- the gateways that allow software programs to communicate.

"APIs are, in essence, the new IP/Ethernet -- the new way to hook systems together," Lerner says in his post.

Lerner lists a series of questions to consider when reviewing your networking vendor's APIs to ensure they are up to par.

A central question: "What percent of the product features are exposed via the API, versus the graphical user interface (GUI) or command line interface (CLI)?" He also asks whether the API is well documented, open and easy to use.

Read the entire post here to find his full list of questions.

When to upgrade software

In a recent post on his blog, The Lone Sysadmin, Bob Plankers addresses the issue of when to upgrade to new software – specifically, VMware vSphere 6. Plankers compares different versions of the same software and explains why some people have trouble differentiating between editions.

He stresses that the number following the name of the software is irrelevant and shouldn't influence one's decision to upgrade.

"Thing is, a version number is just a name, often chosen more for its marketing value than its basis in software development reality," Plankers says.

He explains the four steps he will take to test the software and determine if it's worth the upgrade: install the code in a test environment, wait for comparable vendors to catch up, test the actual upgrades and repeat those tests against a clone of his 5.5 VCSA, fenced off from the production networks.

Plankers writes that he has not yet decided if and when to upgrade.

"The one thing I do know, though, is that when I get to the production upgrade my path will be laid out by facts and experience, and not folk wisdom and the wives' tales of IT," he adds.

Read his full blog post here.

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