SD-WAN (software-defined wide-area networks) and SASE (secure-access service edge) are arguably the most transformative networking technologies in the past three decades. Nearly all network professionals with whom I work are either in the process of, or planning, an SD-WAN deployment.
The reason interest is so high is that the architecture of an SD-WAN is optimized for cloud computing, while legacy WANs were designed for client-server computing. One can't run a cloud-first company on a network that was built for a computing model that's eventually going away. SASE modernizes security and enables businesses to secure their networks without having to deploy expensive hardware everywhere.
As popular as SD-WANs and SASE are, it's important to understand that they are not a panacea for networking problems. What SD-WANs do well is optimize the connectivity between branch offices and the cloud when multiple connections are used. For example, a business could use a combination of cable and 4G and then use SD-WAN to route traffic across the two connections, depending on which is currently performing better. This can be significantly less expensive than purchasing a corporate-grade networK (such as Ethernet) but still offer great performance.
While this addresses many use cases, there are situations where two broadband connections are not available or are not cost-effective. This could be for home-based workers, small branch offices, or locations where telecom services are not available. In this case, the business would be faced with a tough decision: Choose the low-cost broadband connection but be faced with situations where the quality of service is low. This isn't optimal, because applications such as video do not perform well under those circumstances.
Influx of video conferences impacting older networks
Because we live in a world where we are on Webex, Zoom, and other video apps seemingly all day long, this choice could have a significant negative impact on worker productivity and customer experience. The other choice is to purchase a high-price network service to create a more predictable last-mile experience.
Based on my assessment of Masergy's Performance Edge, customers do not have to make that choice. The proprietary technology optimizes the performance of that last-mile connection and brings Ethernet-like performance over a single broadband connection. Technically, what the company is doing is applying a combination of WAN optimization techniques, such as forward error correction (FEC), acceleration, and advanced routing algorithms to accomplish this.
Customers who use the Masergy Performance Edge service will realize the following benefits:
- Better performance. The service minimizes packet loss over public broadband for predictable application performance. This is something that's unique to Masergy and was a previously unsolvable problem.
- Lower cost. Masergy estimates customers can save up to 70% in costs compared with private lines. This number seems reasonable, given the high cost of traditional telco services. There are some situations, such as rural areas, where I would expect the savings to be higher; Ethernet and other private services can be very expensive.
- Fewer outages. Performance Edge uses Masergy's AIOps capabilities to automate problem resolution, which can find and resolve issues before they create outages.
- Fast to install. Unlike conventional telco services, which can often take months to deploy, Performance Edge can be turned up in days and can give existing circuits an immediate boost.
Combines several functions to optimize the end-to-end network
One of the important aspects of this service is that it connects users to Masergy's global software-defined network. If all the company was doing was providing last-mile optimization, the impact to the customer would be limited, because the middle mile is where problems often occur. Performance Edge ensures users that the last mile is performing, but then the traffic is carried over Masergy's high-performance backbone, enabling the end-to-end network to be optimized. It's this combination of Performance Edge, global backbone, SD-WAN, and SASE connectivity that makes Masergy unique, because the company can design a network that addresses all a customer's needs, regardless of office size, where it is located, or what type of network connectivity is available.
While not the best-known service provider, Masergy has been innovative over the years. The company is known to have one of the best-performing networks in the industry, and that's because it was initially built to deliver Cisco Systems TelePresence services globally. That form of video never saw the hockey-stick growth curve that many industry people had expected, leaving Masergy with a high-performance network in an environment where best-effort services were good enough. The pandemic ushered in the era of video everywhere; Masergy has seen strong growth because businesses now understand that with video, good enough is not good enough.
Masergy also was the first service provider with a commercial AIOps offering, enabling it to resolve outages faster than previous providers. More importantly, this functionality often remediates issues before they impact the business. Now the company is rolling out Performance Edge, which brings private circuit performance to broadband.