People are increasingly engaging digitally with smart devices at work, in their homes and even in what they wear. This digital transformation is exponentially increasing the mobile, interactive application, video and multicloud traffic that is already stressing beleaguered enterprise wide area networks (WANs). As businesses become more digitally dependent, they are also more reliant on the public internet. However, many are finding that it introduces performance risks that far outweigh any short-term benefits.
IT organizations continue to invest in adding to their MPLS and VPN networks to protect legacy investments in those infrastructures, but have not seen the WAN optimization results they need to justify the additional costs. Many have also chosen to conserve networking budgets by leveraging SD-WAN and WAN acceleration. However, these are temporary fixes. The performance drawbacks can be significant and gains limited by the inherent latency issues associated with sending data over long distances.
Backhauling all internet traffic over WANs to the corporate data center presents enterprises with the following issues:
- It creates traffic bottlenecks and single points of failure
- Multiple WAN connections are expensive and restrict agility and scale
- Adding bandwidth does not make latency go away, and latency negatively impacts application performance and user quality of experience (QoE)
To mitigate these challenges, internet traffic should be offloaded and distributed at the digital edge, where commerce, population centers and digital ecosystems meet.
As we’ve discussed in previous blog articles, localizing and optimizing the transfer of sensitive data traffic at the digital edge reduces costs and keeps that traffic on dedicated, private connectivity, where local security controls can be applied. We also discussed segmenting traffic flows at the digital edge at network intersection points within digital edge nodes to distribute internet traffic locally, based on workload performance, security or compliance criteria, instead of backhauling to corporate data centers.
In this article, we’ll describe how IT organizations can further save money via intelligent traffic segmentation by sending sensitive or performance-hungry data over secure, direct connections, and then offloading less sensitive data traffic to the public internet at the digital edge. As in the previous two scenarios, businesses can achieve their internet traffic offloading goals by leveraging an Interconnection Oriented Architecture™ (IOA™) strategy. An IOA strategy provides a proven and repeatable framework that shifts the fundamental IT delivery architecture from siloed and centralized to interconnected and distributed.
An IOA framework prescribes strategically placing a digital edge node that acts as a local interconnection hub for your user, cloud and business traffic at your company’s digital edge. The Equinix Performance Hub, deployed on Platform Equinix, is a key component in a digital edge node and provides proximate, direct and secure interconnection to your local users, data, applications and clouds. Digital edge nodes are vendor-agnostic, so you can choose to access multiple network, cloud and internet service providers for the best coverage, services and pricing.
Performance Hubs placed in strategic locations globally will enable you to:
- Deliver consistent and reliable global network and application performance and user QoE
- Offset costly MPLS circuits with high-capacity, lower-cost local Metro Ethernet circuits
- Increase bandwidth, reduce latency and lower administrative costs, while managing fewer circuits – bandwidth costs can be reduced as much as 40%
Using a Performance Hub edge node enables you to take the following steps to offload your internet traffic at the digital edge (see the diagram below):
Offloading Internet Traffic
- Within the edge node, establish a proximate, direct and secure cross connect, leveraging Equinix connection services, to an internet service provider (ISP) at the digital edge.
- Apply segmentation rules to identify opportunities and compliant traffic to use this path, instead of backhauling it to the corporate data center.
- Re-deploy or apply WAN acceleration services to optimize internet traffic performance, where applicable.
- Review the public internet services you’ve optimized, and determine if direct connection is a more viable option.
- Redirect any remaining internet traffic flows via private local area network (LAN) connections to your ISP of choice at the digital edge.
- Review and optimize security through all steps.
You can view this and other IOA Network Blueprint design patterns by going to our IOA Knowledge Base.
The benefits of offloading internet traffic
By distributing and localizing much of your network traffic at your digital edge, you can:
- Deploy proximate, high-speed, low-latency connections for greater network optimization and global performance consistency at a lower cost, removing the need to move all your traffic over the internet via high-priced WAN links.
- The attack surface remains small by leveraging private, secure interconnections for sensitive traffic. Local security and compliance policies can also be deployed at the digital edge.
- Access local cloud and SaaS services more directly and shift workloads to those services accordingly, while reaching optimal performance and security in more cost-effective ways.
Localizing, segmenting and offloading internet traffic at the digital edge enables you to reduce the amount of traffic that is traveling over WAN connections and improve performance and user QoE, while reducing network costs.
Check out the IOA Playbook for more interconnection strategies at the digital edge.