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Understanding Cisco iWAN (Wide Area Network)

Posted On: February 04, 2016

Topic: IT Hardware

Many businesses rely heavily on a WAN (wide area network) for processing transactions, providing visibility and enabling collaboration, especially when they operate in multiple locations or branches. Some of these organizations are finding that the load exceeds the capabilities of their existing infrastructure. Rather than replace existing networks or adding new bandwidth, many savvy organizations are opting for installation of Cisco’s intelligent WAN, also known as iWAN.

Intelligent WAN Overview

An iWAN consists of specialized routers that incorporate advanced traffic control and security features. The new features allow traffic to be routed over the Internet, cellular connections or other low cost links to provide increased bandwidth without compromising the reliability, performance or security of the existing network. As a result, the business has the capabilities of an MPLS WAN (Multi-protocol label switching) at a more affordable cost. The best intelligent networks, including Cisco’s iWAN, provide QoS (quality of service), VPN tunneling and WAN optimization for application performance on a par with a well-tuned traditional WAN.

Multiple iWAN configurations exist to conform to a company’s specific requirements and setup. In the first two cases, all traffic is routed to the headquarter's network for further routing decisions and to route Internet traffic.

  • An iWAN may use traditional WAN capabilities coupled with a VPN over the Internet as a transport for key workloads to provide bandwidth to support SLAs. This setup is known as a hybrid iWAN.
  • A dual-Internet iWAN design combines services from two ISPs to balance workloads, costs and performance.

The third configuration is known as DIA (direct Internet access). This option forwards branch data directly to the Internet without requiring it to pass through the headquarters routing first. This may reduce latency and improve performance, but it requires additional security measures to prevent intrusion and protect data.

Components of iWAN

An iWAN typically consists of specialized routers deployed at branches and connected to the headquarters WAN. These specialized routers have the ability to use the Internet or cellular connections to transport data, rather than requiring a traditional WAN. These branch routers are usually deployed and managed remotely using a network management tool designed for the purpose.

Although there are many applications available for iWAN management, Cisco Prime is the industry leader because of its rich performance data, simple deployment and remote management capabilities. In addition, Cisco Integrated Services Routers are designed specifically for use at branch locations of the distributed organization. They offer increased bandwidth to support increasing demands for public and private cloud applications, mobile users and video conferencing or unified communications. These routers include remote management capabilities so there is little or no need for on-site IT resources. Since many branches are short on budget and space, they also have a small footprint and a low TCO.

Benefits of iWAN

  • Affordable: iWAN uses less expensive WAN links such as Internet or wireless so you can increase bandwidth and rollout new services cost-effectively.
  • Transport independence: the solution uses a dynamic multipoint VPN-overlay across all connections to create a single routing domain.
  • Intelligent path control: looks at application type, performance, policies, and path status to dynamically control data packets.
  • Optimized application performance: provides tools for improved visibility of applications to enable better performance and workload balancing.
  • Secure connectivity: incorporates VPN, firewalls, network segmentation and other tools to ensure better network security.
  • Simplified management: uses a single platform to manage the entire network across all platforms and locations.
  • Fast ROI: many companies find the solution pays for itself in just a few months.
  • Reliability: most sites enjoy 99.999 percent uptime.

To learn more about whether an iWAN solution can help your company roll out critical services to branches at a reasonable cost, or to affordably use the cloud for critical business applications without adding expensive and complicated network infrastructure, contact OneNeck IT Solutions today.