managing Internet growth with the hybrid network

Network traffic growth continues unabated, affecting consumer and business networks alike. In its annual overview of network traffic, Cisco predicts that global IP traffic will triple in the next four years to reach 1.6 Zettabyes per year. The massive popularity of the Internet is at the heart of this growth, with per capita traffic expected to reach 14 GB per capita by 2018, up from 5 GB in 2013.

This growth is accelerated by high-bandwidth connections. Cisco predicts that by 2018, global fixed broadband speeds will average at 42 Mbps up from 16 Mbps in 2013. We can already see this growth happening today: in the UK for example, around 20% of consumer homes in the UK now have access to superfast broadband services with speeds of no less than 30 Mbps, says analyst Point Topic.

Enterprises are experiencing a major increase in traffic on their networks, along with a shift to the Internet as a destination. Business users are turning to the internet to collaborate and access computing resources, ranging from cloud applications to video communications. The Cisco survey says that fixed business Internet growth is growing by 21% annually, compared to standard WAN traffic growing at 10% annually.

The increasing importance of network connectivity also means that resilience is no longer something just reserved for large sites and data centers – it is something that is required for all users, wherever they are based. In addition, companies are looking for lower cost transport via internet offload, but this introduces both security and performance management issues.

moving forward

How can enterprises take advantage of the Internet and cloud services, without seeing bandwidth requirements and costs spiral out of control? First they need to think about their network from the perspective of business need. What do they want from their network, what do they most need it to do for them to be effective? What traffic should travel over the Internet and what via the IP-VPN?

The new enterprise network needs to combine the best of the IP-VPN and Internet. This hybrid network needs to be able dynamically prioritize and route traffic based on importance, location, device and user, and be capable of connecting to and interacting with multiple public cloud service providers, securely.

evolving internet breakout

The traditional enterprise network was primarily designed to provide access to consolidated applications in enterprise data centers. But the Internet is taking up more and more capacity on the network. Already Orange Business customers report that  40% of traffic on their WAN is destined for the Internet.

Internet traffic is typically routed over the enterprise IP VPN infrastructure until it is broken out to the Internet in regional gateways. Unlike locally-procured Internet services, this approach allows the enterprise to enforce central control and security. However, it can come  at the price of performance. Latency, in particular, is an issue if the distance between end-user and Internet destination is too far.

To solve this, enterprises should look to increase the number of Internet breakout points. This helps reduce overall traffic load on the VPN, reduces latency by breaking out closer to the destination and keeps the potential attack vectors to a minimum. This is the approach Orange Business has taken in its Business VPN Internet solution, which incorporates 15 separate gateways.

dynamically offload traffic

The internet can also play a role in enterprise networks by offloading traffic from the IP-VPN if the network is congested. This could include traffic such as batch transfers and other high-bandwidth low-priority traffic.

The choice in what traffic to offload in this situation is a function of network governance and should be made dynamically based on the network congestion. Application optimization is the key here, because it gives you the granularity, visibility and control over all your applications. This is especially important for branch offices, which typically do not have high-bandwidth links.

ensuring security

Any new approach to the enterprise network must have security at its heart. It should be able to implement and enforce a consistent security policy wherever the user is located, on any device and using any network.

In addition IT departments will need the power to dynamically adapt security settings depending on the business risk that the user poses to data. So, for example, a user would have different levels of security depending on their role in the organization, the data they want to access, and the security of the device and network they are using.

This granular security and access management also needs to extend to the cloud, so that users have the same protection irrespective of whether the resource they are accessing is located in the cloud or in the enterprise data center.

Ultimately the hybrid network can help enterprises take advantage of the Internet, while still keeping control of their network infrastructure, prioritizing business critical traffic and staying secure.

Find out more about the Orange Business hybrid network approach in this white paper and infographic. In addition, read about the recently launched Business VPN Internet, and listen to the media and analyst webinar.