7 Scariest Things About Legacy WAN

The 7 Scariest Things About Legacy WANs

Happy Halloween! It’s that time of year again when we go out in the dark and dress up with the sole purpose of scaring one another and collecting treats! For network managers though, there’s no need to dress up as something scary like an orc, goblin or millennial to get a fright, as there are plenty of things to be scared about with the current state of the WAN. Here are the top frights when thinking about legacy WANs.

  • Built on an old architecture. Everyone loves old things. Some people spend much of their free time antiquing. One of the areas where doesn’t pay off is with technology. You never see people using bag phones or Palm Pilots, as they don’t work as well as the new devices. If this is true, why are businesses running a WAN with an architecture that was developed 30 years ago? While old things may seem great, they often break and the legacy WAN is eventually going to crumble in an increasingly digital world.
  • Wasting money on unused bandwidth. Legacy WANs protect against outages with “active-passive” technology where the backup connection can only be used when the primary fails. This means businesses have deployed and are managing a link that may never get used. Imagine building a road system where alternate routes can only be used when the primary fails. Each road would need to be overbuilt to accommodate all the traffic. Seems ridiculous but it’s the norm with networking. For many organizations the overspend on bandwidth makes the WAN bills seem as scary as a werewolf on a night with a full moon.
  • Poor network performance means lost productivity and money. A recent survey run by ZK Research found that workers are 14% less productive because of poor application performance. Application performance is highly dependent on the network, particularly the WAN for cloud applications and workers in branch offices. Poor performance means workers suffer and are less productive which impacts the company’s top and bottom line. For a network manager this is scarier than a group of vampires at sundown.
  • There is a lack of visibility into network traffic. WAN transformation is certainly a hot topic but how can one even begin the process unless there’s an understanding of what applications are running on the network and how much bandwidth they are using. This is critical to being able to set baselines, which has a number of benefits.
  • Network management focus is misdirected. Would one go on a vampire hunt with gun? Or try to fend off Frankenstein with garlic? Of course not. People need the right tool for the job. Most network management platforms monitor faults by understanding the state of specific devices. This may seem useful but networks are built with so much device redundancy that device outages rarely impact the business. The harder problem to solve is performance where everything on the dashboard shows green but users are having problems. It’s critical today to manage application performance rather than network faults.
  • Security is falling behind. An interesting factoid from ZK Research is that 90% of security spend is focused at the perimeter but only 20% of breaches happen at that point. Bigger, more expensive firewalls won’t make organizations more secure as breaches are happening on the inside of the network. It’s like going into a haunted house, making it through the main gates and then assuming you’re safe because you’re inside. A better approach is to use a technology, like SD-WAN that enables secure segments to be created so if a breach does occur, the rest of the network is not impacted.
  • Not evolving the WAN will lead to the death of the engineer’s career. Imaging going to a graveyard and seeing on a headstone: “RIP. Here lies a network engineer who refused to evolve his or her career”. Businesses need to move faster and not advancing the network with new technologies will cause the organization to fall behind its peers. Network engineers will benefit greatly by leading the transition to an SD-WAN and keeping their career skills and their organizations’ competitive edge.

The current state of the network is certainly scary and a poorly designed network can certainly haunt the productivity of users and network operations. As I point out in this webinar with Silver Peak there is a way to fight off these evils. Shifting to an SD-WAN is like taking Van Helsing with you as you go through Transylvania. He can fight off a wide variety of monsters, and SD-WANs can ward off all of the scary things associated with legacy WANs.

About the author
Zeus Kerravala
Zeus Kerravala
Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. He provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and with long term strategic advice. Kerravala provides research and advice to the following constituents: End user IT and network managers, vendors of IT hardware, software and services and the financial community looking to invest in the companies that he covers.