🇿🇦 Unlocking the Power of Last Mile SD-WAN in South Africa: Diverse Use Cases Transforming Networking 🕸️

🇿🇦 Unlocking the Power of Last Mile SD-WAN in South Africa: Diverse Use Cases Transforming Networking 🕸️

Let's delve into some key Last Mile SD-WAN use cases and their real-world examples

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10 min read

The landscape of networking and connectivity has been reshaped significantly by the advent of Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN). Its versatility and transformative capabilities have revolutionized how businesses optimize their network performance, manage support, and expand their global reach. Let's delve into some key SD-WAN use cases and their real-world examples and how Fusion Broadband South Africa is able to address these using its SD-WAN solution.

Cloud Connector: Enhancing Global Connectivity

The cloud connector serves as a crucial use case for SD-WAN, particularly for companies operating across continents. Consider a South African company that has deployed servers in a co-location data center situated in London. When a Content Delivery Network (CDN) is not involved locally, the performance to access these servers might not be optimal due to various factors, including network congestion and inefficient data paths.

Fusion Broadband addresses this challenge by implementing a cloud connector in the remote data center, linked to a local aggregator. By leveraging techniques such as TCP multiplexing and efficient congestion control algorithms, this solution significantly enhances the performance of accessing servers. It optimizes data paths, mitigates latency issues, and ensures a smoother flow of data across international borders.

Improving Support and Reducing Associated Charges

Legacy network deployments often incur substantial support charges due to the complexity of troubleshooting and maintenance. SD-WAN introduces a paradigm shift in this domain by providing a unified and simplified platform, enabling comprehensive visibility and control over the network.

Fusion Broadband's SD-WAN solution offers a single, comprehensive dashboard, acting as a 'single pane of glass' that verifies connectivity metrics and network health. It brings forth an array of functionalities that streamline the support process, reducing associated charges and operational complexities.

Here are some identified problem types and solutions enabled by SD-WAN:

  • Identifying Last-Mile Issues: Packet loss, latency, congestion, and MTU problems on the last mile can be swiftly identified and rectified.

  • Troubleshooting Outages: SD-WAN provides insights into SLA breaches, outage determinations, and resolution by analyzing various network components.

  • Visualizing Traffic and Exchange Problems: By visualizing network traffic, it pinpoints congestion sources and resolves exchange and peering problems effectively.

  • Capturing Packets for Analysis: Detailed packet capture and analysis facilitate granular troubleshooting to identify and resolve intricate network issues.

SD-WAN Use Cases: Transforming Regional Meshed Wide Area Networks

Connecting the edge to a data center necessitates an efficient mechanism that balances scalability and streamlined decision-making. While a hub-and-spoke model traditionally prevails in network architecture, employing a mesh at this level often leads to scalability issues and complicated path decisions.

Fusion Broadband's SD-WAN solution addresses this challenge by catering to the concept of meshed aggregators, strategically located in regional data centers. These aggregators act as the nerve center of the network, establishing simplified yet robust private wide area networks (WANs) across the country. Unlike the complexities associated with MPLS setups, the meshed aggregators leverage advanced protocols such as VXLAN and Babel, streamlining network operations and enabling seamless communication among various network points.

SD-WAN Use Cases: Elevating Business-Grade Internet Links

The disparity between consumer and business-grade Internet links from most broadband providers often remains obscured by superficial differentiators. Despite being delivered over the same infrastructure, the technical attributes that truly set apart these products are often scarce.

Business-grade Internet, in most instances, is defined merely by the provision of a priority phone number for fault reporting, lacking proactive outage notifications and leaving businesses in the dark until they report issues.

Fusion Broadband's SD-WAN solution reshapes the landscape of broadband links by transforming them into reliable connections with a guaranteed 100% uptime. These business-grade links offer more than just stability; they come equipped with built-in dashboards and monitoring tools, eliminating the need for third-party solutions. With transparency and reliability at their core, these links empower businesses with continuous connectivity and real-time insights into network performance.

SD-WAN Use Cases: Revolutionizing Edge Computing

While large co-location data centers cater to the needs of service providers and enterprises, they often don't align with the requirements of small businesses. Small businesses typically seek a more localized and scaled-down infrastructure that doesn't necessitate an entire rack at a remote data center.

Enter edge computing—an innovative solution addressing these needs by establishing decentralized and small-scale data centers, aptly referred to as edge computing sites. These sites strategically position infrastructure closer to businesses, ensuring low latency and localized data processing.

For edge computing to function seamlessly, it relies on diverse paths connecting back to the primary data center. These paths typically utilize IP transit and peering through Internet Exchanges. At these exchanges, multiple SD-WAN aggregators enhance resilience, ensuring consistent and reliable connectivity.

SD-WAN Use Cases: Empowering Work-from-Home Scenarios

Work from home has become increasingly prevalent, necessitating robust solutions for seamless communication between remote employees and on-premises office resources. Many offices in South Africa house critical servers on-site, requiring remote access for employees working from home.

However, direct port forwarding to servers, especially using protocols like Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), presents significant security risks and vulnerabilities.

A more secure approach is the implementation of a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Properly implemented VPNs provide encryption and robust authentication mechanisms. However, to bolster security and reduce vulnerability, it's recommended to deploy the VPN concentrator within a demilitarized zone (DMZ). Utilizing a virtual container for the DMZ further enhances security, preventing potential compromise.

SD-WAN solutions play a pivotal role in ensuring reliable and uninterrupted access for work-from-home users. In typical office scenarios, local servers could be accessed if Internet links failed, enabling continued work. However, in work-from-home scenarios, this isn't feasible, making 100% uptime for Internet links a necessity. Additionally, multiple locations or even companies can share a Bastion concentrator, enhancing security and access control for remote connections.

SD-WAN Use Case: Kiosk Connectivity Enhancement

Kiosks often grapple with limited connectivity options, frequently relying on mobile providers like Vodacom or MTN. However, even with the best available connection in a given area, outages remain a persistent issue.

To tackle this challenge, the introduction of routers with dual SIM slots for failover seemed promising. Yet, a significant hitch arises—mobile providers deactivate SIMs that haven't pinged the network for several days, resulting in a failure when attempting failover.

Enter Fusion Broadband's groundbreaking Jaguar-based SD-WAN edge. This innovative solution integrates two active radio modems to establish connections with mobile providers. Crucially, the architecture maintains a continuous keep-alive ping to both SIMs, preemptively preventing the aforementioned failure scenario.

Fusion's SD-WAN doesn't stop there; it employs bandwidth aggregation through bonding, effectively enhancing performance and throughput at kiosks.

SD-WAN Use Case: Network and Traffic Visualization

Remember the days when a test pattern appeared on television screens during off-air hours? It was a comforting signal, assuring viewers that when the scheduled broadcast commenced, everything would work seamlessly.

In the realm of connectivity solutions, the equivalent of a test pattern is crucial. In SD-WAN, this assurance is achieved through network performance management (NPM) metrics and comprehensive dashboards. Moreover, traffic visualization down to the application and user experience level is an added advantage.

Fusion Broadband's SD-WAN solution excels in NPM, displaying essential metrics on a unified interface—latency, bit rate, packet loss, outages, load, and quality of service. This consolidated view provides a comprehensive understanding of network health and performance.

A recent article on MyBroadband—'Fusion SD-WAN Traffic Visualization Unmasks Cyber and Other Incidents'—delves deeper into Fusion's capabilities. It articulates how the solution offers user experience and application-level traffic visualization. Furthermore, it explores cybersecurity monitoring, including strategies to address threats like the Sunburst breach.

SD-WAN Use Case: Cloud Acceleration

The presumption that fibre outperforms wireless connectivity isn't always accurate. Often, even with Wi-Fi present at most sites, packet loss on fibre can be harder to detect. This issue manifests as high local speeds but poor international speeds due to protocol nature, impacting long-distance connections more significantly.

TCP acceleration, such as the implementation of BBR, becomes vital to enhancing cloud access. Fusion Broadband's solution leverages a TCP proxy mechanism to accelerate specific ports by multiplexing streams and deploying advanced congestion control mechanisms.

Furthermore, DNS plays a crucial role. A locally efficient resolver can significantly boost performance. Fusion Broadband South Africa's resolver stands out, capable of enhancing speeds by up to 240%.

SD-WAN Use Case: Threat Management

SD-WAN showcases a unique prowess in handling and managing threats efficiently. The enforcement points, either at the aggregator or the edge, offer distinct advantages.

At the aggregator level, Fusion Broadband's solution can proactively drop various forms of malicious traffic: bogons, hijacked domains, dshield top attacking network ranges, and known malware sources like feodo, sslbl, zeus_badips, and bambenek_c2 using firehol level 1 block lists. Employing the IPSET tool via a script accomplishes this robust threat mitigation.

On the edge, SD-WAN utilizes DNSMASQ similar to the widely used pi-hole tool. Hosts file-based lists hosted on GitHub can be employed effectively. Additionally, the DNSMASQ configuration allows simultaneous DNS resolves from multiple sources like Quad 9 and Cloudflare, optimizing resolution performance by up to 240% when complemented with suitable edge hardware.

The efficiency of a local caching resolver further enhances this solution. Implementing techniques to disable DoH/DoT and redirecting DNS queries via firewall rules on the SD-WAN to the local caching resolver adds an additional layer of security and performance enhancement.

SD-WAN Use Case: Disaster Recovery

Traditional disaster recovery often presents a challenge when systems are restored, leading to the reconfiguration of IP addressing. This process demands extensive testing and troubleshooting.

SD-WAN offers a unique solution with floating IPs. Unlike in conventional broadband deployments where IP addresses are confined to specific sites, floating IPs in an SD-WAN network can be used anywhere within the network. This flexibility eliminates the need for arbitrary IP migration between sites and locations, simplifying disaster recovery configurations significantly.

SD-WAN Use Case: Achieving 100% Uptime on the Last Mile

Legacy networks often grapple with reliability issues in the last mile. Fail-over mechanisms, whether through scripts or protocols, tend to take a considerable amount of time, usually upwards of 30 seconds. This delay is also observed in many mesh-based SD-WAN implementations.

However, a hub-and-spoke SD-WAN deployment stands out by providing near-instantaneous fail-over capabilities and the ability to aggregate bandwidth through a process called bonding. Yet, the most significant advantage lies in ensuring 100% uptime over the last mile.

Consider a scenario where the last mile employs connections from three ISPs, two via fibre and one through fixed wireless. This setup ensures uninterrupted connectivity, especially because it incorporates a mix of fibre and fixed wireless. Fixed wireless connections often mitigate last mile outages stemming from service interruptions, such as incidents involving a backhoe damaging the fibre lines.

SD-WAN Use Case: Centralized Firewalls

Organizations often deploy firewalls across their network points, leading to what can be termed as "firewall carpet bombing." However, the strategy of deploying perimeter security firewalls at every branch can be an overwhelming and costly license requirement, especially when considering edge deployments.

A more logical approach involves securely connecting the network edge to a centralized firewall hosted in a data center, forming a resilient cluster. This centralized firewall is significantly more robust and potent than the individual firewalls deployed at branch edges.

SD-WAN facilitates the consolidation of firewalls, offering a substantial administrative advantage by reducing and simplifying rule-based configurations.

SD-WAN Use Case: MPLS Migration

MPLS (Multi-Protocol Label Switching) has been a staple in enterprise networks since the late 2000s, dominating a significant majority of networks to this day.

However, MPLS networks are inherently costly. Branch links average around R12k, whereas alternatives can be found in the region of R3k. Besides cost, MPLS implementation is complex, time-consuming, and demands high-level engineering expertise. Extensive troubleshooting often becomes necessary for operationalizing deployments.

Moreover, MPLS architecture involves long design, quoting, ordering, and implementation cycles. Configurations are intricate and prone to costly errors that take substantial time to identify and rectify. Extending MPLS networks to cloud hosting or services incurs additional costs and deployment cycles, requiring engagement with carriers and network operators.

In contrast, SD-WAN presents itself as a superior alternative. It enables automated branch deployment by individuals with limited technical expertise, activating a branch within a mere two minutes. SD-WAN boasts inherent benefits including enhanced security, streamlined network management, affordability, AES data encryption, flexible contracts, rapid deployment, carrier redundancy, BYO (Bring Your Own) connectivity, hybrid networks, and Quality of Service (QoS).

In summary, SD-WAN emerges not only as a transformative technology but also as a strategic ally in bolstering network efficiency, reducing support complexities, and enhancing global connectivity for businesses navigating the ever-expanding digital realm.

👉 Learn more: Contact Fusion

Read more successful use cases associated with Fusion's SDWAN!

Originally published on LinkedIn by Ronald Bartels:

  • Cover by Derrich Gardner