Multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) has powered enterprise-wide area networks (WANs) for decades but there’s a more agile and lower-cost contender in the market: SD-WAN. Not willing to totally dismantle legacy MPLS networks, many enterprises are phasing in SD-WAN architectures that incorporate lower cost network access options such as broadband internet when connecting remote branch sites to existing MPLS backbones to gain greater flexibility and lower CAPEX. This can all be done via software by leveraging agile, cost-effective virtual network functions (VNF) devices.
Since SD-WANs route all kinds of traffic—like multiple MPLS providers and internet —it is the perfect complementary solution for many enterprises that have extensive MPLS-based WANs, which connect multiple geographical regions together. The beauty behind SD-WANs edge devices is that they simplify more complex MPLS fixed routing by applying software-defined rules and policies to send traffic along the best path—providing both agility and performance. However, if you are going to mix and match SD-WANs with MPLS networks, you need a strategy that integrates network virtualization, automation and compute power into the deployment, interconnection, management and analysis of multi-region WANs.
In addition, as businesses adopt SD-WANs for speed and agility through centralized control planes, they are challenged by how to design these network services to efficiently connect to other things, such as cloud and SaaS providers, employees, partners and customers. What they are finding is that the best place to deploy SD-WAN aggregation points is in proximity to all of these services and users. They are also realizing that centralizing branch SD-WAN network control and services at the edge on a scalable platform, such as Bare Metal-as-a-Service (BMaaS), enables organizations to quickly roll out additional services thanks to virtualization.
This is where Network Edge, Equinix Fabric and Equinix Metal services come into play.
Modernize your network, deploy digital-ready infrastructure at the edge virtually, in minutes
Network Edge provides virtual network services that run on a modular infrastructure platform, optimized for instant deployment and interconnection of network services.Read More
Deploying digital and physical network infrastructure at software speed
In the following use case, a multinational customer on Platform Equinix® had a multi-layer MPLS-based WAN that was extremely costly and complex, with long delivery lead-times. It was comprised of multiple MPLS and cloud partners across four regions: one in the Americas and the United Kingdom and two in Asia-Pacific, with their headquarters in Hong Kong. Inflexible pricing, bandwidth contracts and routing tables drove the cost and complexity of this solution up when exchanging traffic between the different regional branch offices and the Hong Kong headquarters, and did not deliver a high-quality user experience. The customer needed to optimize the traffic going between its regional branches and its headquarters in a more cost-effective and efficient way. It also needed to deliver proximate, local access to its multiple network, internet and cloud service providers (CSPs) to ensure a better user experience.
By distributing SD-WAN devices from Fortinet in each region via Network Edge services from Equinix, the company efficiently and cost-effectively connected the regional branch offices to the MPLS backbone via software, without additional hardware. Designed for network performance, Network Edge modernizes networks by deploying digital-ready infrastructure at the edge, virtually—in minutes. Learn more about Fortinet SD-WAN specifications and throughput on Network Edge by checking out our documentation page.
Equinix Fabric™ provided the software-defined interconnection that delivered the high-speed, low-latency “middle mile” connectivity for accessing multiple CSPs (e.g., Alibaba Cloud, AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud) and interconnecting the four Fortinet SD-WAN regions together with high availability. The customer used Equinix Fabric and Network Edge services to deploy and configure redundant, clustered Fortinet SD-WAN devices via a single user portal to speed the time to production and ensure greater reliability from failures. In particular, Equinix Fabric and Alibaba Cloud direct and secure interconnection enabled connectivity back to existing networks from a region with limited access.
Equinix Metal™ automated, interconnected bare metal as a service provided the centralized, on-demand physical infrastructure that the customer needed to support additional network servers (i.e., DNS, DHCP, analyzers, etc.) for managing the network policies and performance across the multi-region WAN. Equinix Metal is a usage-based service that deploys physical infrastructure at software speed.
Optimizing and reducing the cost of a multi-region WAN
On Platform Equinix, the customer was able to build out a repeatable blueprint for each of its branch locations via Terraform templates and Equinix APIs, providing the fast deployment times and flexibility each branch required to interconnect and exchange traffic in the most efficient and cost-effective way.
The benefits of simplifying and optimizing the customer’s multi-region WAN included:
- The agility of software-defined network routing and the speed of deploying networks via software, without additional CAPEX.
- Dedicated, high-speed, low-latency network performance for an improved customer experience.
- Cost savings: 4 regional hub sites achieved a 28% network cost savings and 200 remote sites connecting to CSPs and ISPs achieved an additional 20% cost savings.
- High availability with active-passive local failover and active-active regional failover.
- Vendor neutrality and flexibility, with metro/regional access to multiple network, cloud and internet service providers.
- A single network portal to control the entire WAN and fast, repeatable automated deployments using Terraform templates and Equinix APIs.
- A hybrid, digital and physical environment with greater flexibility and regional data compliance.
The world’s digital infrastructure platform
The Equinix solution aligned with the customer’s IT strategy for building and interconnecting agile digital infrastructure with its legacy MPLS network. It minimized CAPEX, integrated clouds, networks and virtual services, and reduced the total cost of ownership. As the world’s digital infrastructure company™, Equinix enabled this digital leader to build and interconnect foundational infrastructure that powers their success.
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