In a crowded bar on a dark New York night, a bunch of network engineers, technologists, IT pros, and assorted other nerds gathered for a live recording of the Packet Pushers podcast. Beer flowed, appetizers circulated–all courtesy of sponsor Viptela–and good conversation rattled the rafters.
Viptela brought three customers from financial services, investment banking, and retail to share their experiences deploying and running SD-WANs.
With Greg and Ethan on the mics, they dived into five major topics: speed of deployment, scale, bandwidth provisioning, operational wins, and security.
It’s an in-depth and honest conversation about the challenges and benefits of SD-WAN technology, filled with real-world anecdotes and lessons. If you’re curious about how SD-WAN works beyond PowerPoint or a lab demo, this is the show for you.
Greg and Ethan’s guests are:
- Scott Smith, infrastructure engineer from a large financial services organization
- John Shaffer, CIO of investment bank Greenhill
- Snehal Patel, network architect at Gap
Speed Of Deployment
Zero-touch provisioning (ZTP) is a key element of Viptela’s SD-WAN product because it lets an organization bring up remote and branch sites without having to have an IT pro on site.
Greenhill’s Shaffer talks about bringing up a new remote office using Viptela and a broadband link in just an hour. Meanwhile, Gap is bringing 15 to 20 stores a night online using Viptela, including one deployment that brought 40 sites up in a day.
As the number of SD-WAN appliances are deployed, you can scale out Viptela controllers, either in the cloud or in your own data centers. Smith’s target goal is for 4,000 remote branches.
Patel already has 850 sites up and running for Gap, with a target of 2,000 to 3,000 over time.
“Now we have a single point of management…we can push configuration changes to several hundred sites using templates,” he says. “Previously we did spend spent a lot of time doing things on several hundred routers manually, one by one.”
While MPLS circuits are reliable, they can also be expensive and have long provisioning cycles. SD-WAN lets organizations tap broadband and LTE connections, either as supplements to MPLS or even replacements.
Greenhill’s Shaffer notes that while the organization does combine MPLS and broadband, the goal is to migrate primarily to broadband over time. Patel says all the Gap sites in the US are entirely on broadband and 4G.
Smith says MPLS won’t go away, but they are bringing in broadband as well as LTE with their Viptela appliances.
For Patel, the active-active circuit is a win because Viptela can measure the performance of multiple connections and send traffic on the best-performing link.
In addition, the dashboard and templates mean that changes get automatically propagated, rather than having to make individual changes via a CLI. “Get it right in the lab, and then push it in production,” he says.
Smith cites the TPM chip with baked-in certificates so the organization doesn’t have to manage PKI. This is a big win because dealing with crypto and key rotation can be such a headache.
Patel says network segmentation is an important security feature. It allows him to create guest wireless networks in stores to separate customer traffic from business traffic.
For more details about real-world SD-WAN deployments, check out the full podcast.