ONUG & Managing the Future of SD-WAN

by | May 16, 2019
ONUG & Managing the Future of SD-WAN

We are fresh off the heels of a great week at the Open Networking User Group (ONUG) Spring event in Dallas, where the Itential team was able to collaborate with the enterprise and vendor community to solve problems and identify gaps related to building a hybrid/multi-cloud infrastructure to drive digital transformation.

As SD-WAN continues to evolve, it has improved its branch presence offering with better optimization and security at the application layer instead of just the transport layer. However, most customers voiced their concern with the network being the bottleneck in automation. Currently, enterprises are able to efficiently automate most data center activities, but because of skillset challenges and manual processes, activities still take days and weeks instead of minutes and hours. With these current challenges still at hand, it was interesting to talk about a utopian vision of network automation that leverages monitoring and analytics to make more intelligent decisions; which ties in well with ONUG’s M&A Working Group. As we continue to harvest more data from the network, we should be able to apply policies that guide our automations.

A common topic that surfaced amongst the attendees was how to manage this new world of SD-WAN networks. While cost saving was one of the biggest drivers to make the transition to SD-WAN, the path forward is still unclear. But now that we’re here, what do we do? Simple controller and gateway interaction is covered, but other use cases such as optimization, application performance, system integrations, and the application of security policies (whether it be SaaS or full stack) are still left to the customers to tackle. During a polling question in one of the Working Groups, the audience responded favorably towards multi-tenancy and PaaS models as opposed to co-location and self-managed SD-WAN access. In hallway discussions, the key drivers were cost and simpler operational management. The network has evolved into a complex organism that requires nurture from cross-functional teams.

As an ONUG Proof-of-Concept (PoC), Itential successfully presented a hybrid multi-cloud, multi-domain, multi-vendor, zero touch automation solution for SD-WAN Branch Deployment. The PoC included integrations with Azure, AWS, Riverbed, Viptela, VeloCloud, Zscaler, ServiceNow, Palo-Alto, and other solutions, showcasing zero touch automation with application VNF instantiation and application testing. As a member of the SD-WAN 2.0 ONUG Working Group, Itential participates and contributes towards the documentation of edge and multi-cloud use case requirements for SD-WAN 2.0. The Working Group teams are excited to continue building a reference architecture as a deliverable for ONUG’s fall conference.

Our message for a federated automation platform for true end-to-end automation resonated very well with the ONUG community. Attendees strongly agreed that they need a platform like Itential’s Automation Platform to truly provide end-to-end integration and automation. While SD-WAN controllers are attempting to bridge some gaps by offering integrations for SaaS security and Public Cloud, there are still many areas that are outside the scope of a controller. True automation is more than just addressing multi-vendor and multi-domain, as it also needs to bring together the siloed knowledge needed to accomplish this. When mixing DevOps and NetOps together without a normalization layer, enterprises can only automate as fast as the silos allow them to.

Itential is excited about continuing to propel network automation forward. Our goal is to make the network no longer be the bottleneck to innovation, but to become the center and foundation of innovation and digital transformation.

We’re looking forward to ONUG Europe and ONUG Fall and hope to see you there! In the meantime, check out our latest blog post written by Chris Wade on ONUG’s community blog “SD-WAN Multi-Domain Problem.

Mike Elrom

Mike Elrom is the Director of Technical Sales at Itential, who has been integral since its founding. With extensive knowledge in the network industry, Mike leads Itential’s technical sales team to drive business through customer engagements, translates technical solutions to customer needs & functions as a trusted advisor and network automation expert.

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