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Thinking Hybrid WAN? Think Cisco iWAN (Part Three)

by Michael Edwards, on Mar 30, 2016 3:33:30 PM

Imagine this scenario: your wide area network (WAN) includes a 10Mbps Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) service and a 100Mbps Internet service. Your MPLS service is over utilized and causing outages, but your Internet service has 50Mbps of capacity. Doesn’t sound like a very efficient design.

On the other hand, what if it was possible to send traffic over a specific circuit depending on the type of traffic that is being sent? For example, voice, video and enterprise resource planning (ERP) traffic could go over the MPLS circuit and Common Internet File System (CIFS), Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), or large file downloads would go over a secure tunnel via the Internet. Fortunately, technologies such as is Hybrid WAN, allow us to do exactly this.

This brings me to my final topic of this series – Intelligent Path Control. With Cisco Intelligent WAN (iWAN), this feature is implemented using Performance Routing (PfR). Utilizing PfR you can control how traffic flows across your network. PfR has two major components:

Master Controller (MC) – The master controller allows for centralized management of policy for the rest of the environment. This policy can be configured to recognize traffic via standard Differentiated Services Code Point (DSCP) marking or using Cisco Network Based Application Recognition (NBAR). Additionally, there are two types of master controllers. One is a Hub master controller where all policy configuration is completed, and the other is a branch master controller where the branch master controller receives all policy for the hub MC.

•  Branch Router (BR) – The branch router is in the data path and uses policy created on the master controller to determine which path a network link should take. Each location in your network will require at least one MC and BR. The diagram below outlines where each component may be located.

Cisco iWAN Intelligent Path Control (Original Source: Cisco.com) Cisco iWAN Intelligent Path Control (Original source: Cisco.com)

Circling back to our example from the beginning; voice, video and ERP traffic would go over the MPLS circuit (green path), and CIFS, HTTP, or large file downloads would go over a secure tunnel via the Internet (yellow path).

With much of the industry focus on buzzy technologies such as Software Defined Networking (SDN) and cloud services, excitement around the wide area network has become somewhat lost. However, with increasing reliance on remote data centers and cloud services it can be argued that WAN services are more important than ever. And now, by using Hybrid WAN products such as Cisco’s iWAN, engineers can ensure fast, reliable and flexible wide area network access to branch, data center and cloud services.

For more on how Cisco iWAN can make your network more scalable, secure and efficient, contact us.

View part one and part two of this series.

Michael Edwards is a Principal Architect in Professional Services at GTRI.

Topics:CiscoCisco iWANHybrid WANNetworking

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