Aryaka released their State of the WAN report for 2017 today. This is a report that uses data gathered from over 5000 locations in 63 countries, and reports on the bandwidths in use, the balance of application protocols and the response time between sites.
There’s a lot of information in the report, but a few things stood out.
- 200%+ bandwidth growth over the last year
- Move of traffic from traditional enterprise applications to HTTPS cloud
- Increase in higher bandwidth delivery
- Challenges for the “middle mile” of Internet delivery
State of the WAN Summary
The simple initial findings are that the volume of enterprise network traffic is growing across all regions and verticals. The report concludes big data, IoT and video and adoption of private and public cloud application delivery drive this. The Asia-Pacific region is the highest growth region. Software and Internet and Manufacturing are the two verticals with the fastest growth.
It used to be that about a third of the traffic in a new would be HTTP or HTTPS, but this is now nearly 50% of the overall traffic, with commensurate drops in traffic levels for CIFS and other enterprise applications.
Bandwidth growth at each site is increasing, with less than 12% of connections being below 10Mb/s. (This marks a more than 50% decrease from the 34% seen last year). 25% of Aryaka customers have one or more 100Mb/s links.
The challenge of the “middle mile” comes from a mix of reasons, but has a marked impact on applications. Variation in response time of up to 153% can lead to response times for the test application used of 40 seconds, and variations of this metric of over 200%.
Bandwidth Growth of 200%+
Across the various geographies, bandwidth has increased by a minimum of 155% (in the Americas), and upto 248% in the Asia-Pacific region (excluding China, which only grew at 165%). Across the network as a whole, growth is more than doubling each year.
Although MPLS prices are declining, these are primarily dropping to support customers flat budgets and prevent customer churn. Internet pricing remains stable, but higher bandwidths being cheaper than MPLS means that growth shifts bandwidth to the Internet.
Growing bandwidth to support all applications is not a viable option with bandwidth doubling in 12-18 months.
The speed of growth is increasing across most verticals, with rates increasing from 3x to 5.25x in a year for Software and Internet, and 3x to 4.4x for Manufacturing. The rise in cloud based development platforms, API integration, big data and the Internet of Things, according to the report.
Move of traffic from traditional enterprise applications to HTTPS cloud
Aryaka has also seen a significant shift in the application protocols in use. The use of HTTPS has grown from 21% to 28%, and HTTP has dropped from 22% to 18%, reflecting the continuing move to secure transports. Both CIFS and FTP have dropped, again a reflection that enterprise file sharing is moving to the cloud. CIFS has dropped by 9% from 25%, and FTP by 10% to 5%.
MS-RDP has dropped from 12% to 2%, possibly indicating a move away from MS Terminal Server platforms to other VDI solutions. Or the move of these applications to new cloud hosted solutions. It could also signal a move away from Microsoft as the underlying operating system to others requiring alternative management protocols.
The drop in SMTP traffic from 5% of the traffic last year to 2% is being attributed to Microsoft Office 365. This means that no local SMTP traffic is being generated as it exists only in the cloud and the sites to which it is being sent and more of those are moving to the cloud themselves.
The mix of applications moves traffic to protocols that inbuilt security that will behave better over links with higher latency and variance in performance, allowing that move to the cloud.
Increase in higher bandwidth delivery
Aryaka’s data for the growth in WAN speeds comes from connections to their network, so is a smaller sample than across enterprises. Similarly as they grow customers and each of those grow (or shrink) the number of connections changes in the network, so there will be changes in the numbers. What is important is the change in the balance of the connections.
Low bandwidth connections (below 10Mb/s) have seen decreases from 34% to 12% of total connections. 2Mb/s connections and smaller have really disappeared as a connection speed. Even 10Mb/s connections have seen drops from 26% to 20% of the total. Links between 11Mb/s and 20Mb/s have remained stable since last year. The growth of links of greater than 41Mb/s has been 42%, up from 16% last year. 100Mb/s connections on their own have leapt from 7% to 25% of the total.
It is important to bear in mind that these are connections to Aryaka’s own network which is based on SD-WAN capability. Their links are natively able to deliver Ethernet speed , turning up and down the bandwidth as the customer demands. This could skew bandwidth to these nodes, particularly if the pricing on bandwidth itself has no significant steps in price.
The report itself shows breakdowns of the balance of connections speeds by industry verticals. While Finance has the biggest share of the 100Mb/s connections (48%), Transport and Storage has the highest percentage of 10Mb/s connection speeds (38%). This reflects the balance of sites in each industry.
This increase in bandwidth should mean that applications perform more effectively, when deployed in the right locations.
Challenges for the “middle mile” of Internet delivery
The challenges of bandwidth at the edge increasing at a rate quicker than the links in the core means that there will be congestion in the network core, rather than at the edge. This is exacerbated when regulatory requirements or lack of infrastructure, and rapid growth in demand collide. This is especially true in the case of Internet traffic across the globe.
Within the same Internet Service Provider (ISP), Internet performance is good. Traffic across service providers shows decreases in performance, and this is particularly noticeable across continental boundaries.
Certain regions, such as the Middle East have challenges in part because of regulation and the flexbility in choosing local service providers. The Middle East also suffers (as does India) from the lack of bandwidth into the countries, and also on the sub-sea cables linking them to the rest of the world. These have been challenges for decades, and as soon as new cables are laid, the capacity is used. The last few cables in the Middle East have really been for traditional point-to-point traffic, rather than to support traffic to cloud hosted applications outside of the region.
The challenge is that performance across the Internet has no Service Level Agreement (SLA). It is also one of the more difficult elements to determine what and where things are going wrong. The use of IPFix style measurements across the network will help monitor the performance of tunnels across the Internet. Using Internet service monitoring tools (normally used for application end-points) configured for tunnel end-points can provide the additional information on the behaviour of the Internet itself.
Internet routing changes can significantly increase the path taken by traffic, and also affects the packet loss on the route. Keeping the endpoints within a service provider minimises the choices of geographic routes between the end-points, but limits your choice of connections. It does provides a domain of responsibility in that single ISP which may be more beneficial than lower costs.
So the current State of the WAN means what?
So a few key take aways from the State of the WAN report that Aryaka has provided are:
- Continue your migration to the cloud
- Don’t get rid of your MPLS just yet
- Do use a mix of Internet and MPLS connections (or a managed SD-WAN platform)
- Do use the Internet to off-load traffic to the cloud, but from intelligently chosen locations
- Use Internet and cloud monitoring tools where possible
- Do look at managing your applications with a Layer 7 performance management tool that understands cloud applications
- In the Middle East and India
- Use local cloud provision where possible
- Integrate systems using APIs rather than use a shared global system
- Consider moving traffic from the Internet to MPLS (if affordable)
If you follow these simple guidelines, then it is likely that you will enjoy the current state of the WAN.