Enterprises are under a lot of pressure today when it comes to managing their networks. For example, COVID-19 health policies and equipment delays are limiting staff from physically adding new network appliances into their data centers. As a result, the avalanche of workload traffic coming in from a growing remote workforce is severely stressing their legacy network backbones. And even before the pandemic, businesses were looking for more flexible and cost-effective options to quickly expand network access at the edge. A geo-centric, hub-and-spoke data center networking model with traditional hardware that backhauls traffic globally no longer works for enterprises that are looking for an agile, scalable and distributed IT environment. The result is that enterprises are turning to software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN) and network functions virtualization (NFV) infrastructures at the edge with the end goal of improving performance and time to service and reducing complexity and CAPEX.
Network Edge services from Equinix enable enterprises to access virtual network services (e.g., SD-WAN, firewalls, virtual private networks, cloud routing) from multiple leading NFV vendors to globally interconnect with employees, partners and customers. As private interconnection is crucial to enterprise WAN infrastructure, Network Edge allows enterprises to securely deploy virtual network functions (VNF) devices on Equinix’s global platform in minutes. In addition, Network Edge directly connects users to clouds or other corporate networks of choice via Equinix Fabric™ to build, high-performance, low-latency hybrid multicloud architectures.
Today, we’re excited to announce that Network Edge now delivers VNF device clustering to support more advanced multi-stack architectures and applications. The result is enhanced performance, scalability, resiliency, security and rapid elasticity.
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VNF Clustering vs. Redundant Devices in Network Edge
Clustering allows enterprise customers to deploy highly available VNF devices in a manner that is consistent with a physical device deployment. Some benefits include: an active-standby forwarding model, device configuration synchronization, and the ability to share state of the existing connections. This gives customers greater functionality, automation and management of their NFV devices in Network Edge.
Prior to this release, Network Edge only supported redundant devices for fault tolerance. This is similar to clustering in that it provides two devices for fault tolerance, however, they are treated as two independent devices for licensing and configuration.
Clustered devices are different in that they are treated as a single device for management, although this varies among vendors. Network Edge supports higher-level workflows that natively instantiate all facets of the cluster in an automated fashion. Otherwise, IT organizations would have to manually build and manage their own cluster using more complex Layer 2 N+1 adjacencies between two separate devices. Clustering allows for simplified deployment at scale using the vendors own methods that are already familiar to their customers. The table below further highlights the main differences between the two approaches:
Network Edge allows customers to build VNF clusters with multiple devices by the same vendor. The top use cases for Network Edge device clustering are adding redundancy and capacity to increase resiliency, performance, scalability and security using virtual firewalls and SD-WAN devices as illustrated below:
Clustered virtual firewalls protect corporate networks from public IP access
Clustered SD-WANs streamline branch deployments and optimize traffic flow
Virtual network device building blocks simplify creating digital infrastructures
Network Edge VNF clustering is built upon Network Edge device linking. Device linking allows our customers to interconnect virtual network interfaces from many leading NFV vendors, such as Cisco, Fortinet, Juniper Networks and Palo Alto. Instead of physically racking and stacking devices inside a data center cabinet, these devices are deployed virtually on Platform Equinix® via Network Edge using a self-service customer portal. This allows for two or more virtual network interfaces from different VNFs to be connected within a single metro or across multiple metro locations within minutes. This means less complexity in deploying service chains including multiple NFV devices, enabling faster time to service and rapid elasticity when spinning up virtual network services.
When combined with Equinix Fabric, Network Edge VNF device linking and clustering give our customers the building blocks they need to develop high-performance, scalable, resilient and secure digital infrastructures. According to a report by market research firm Frost & Sullivan:
As private data centers give way to shared and cloud-based models, enterprises are looking to evolve their WANs to be more agile by utilizing SDN and NFV technologies. The combination of Equinix Fabric and Network Edge services allows businesses to do exactly that—quickly and reliably move traffic from branch to cloud and cloud-to-cloud by deploying virtual network functions ‘on the go.[i]"
Learn more about optimizing, simplifying and protecting your corporate and branch networks with Network Edge device clustering.
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[i] Frost & Sullivan, “Equinix Network Edge: Laying the Path to Agile, Multicloud Networking,” Author: Roopa Honnachari, 2020. This report was sponsored by Equinix.