Traditional security architectures focused primarily on protecting the network perimeter. Firewalls and other devices were used to create a defensive barrier between an organization’s secure internal network and the open Internet. While perimeter security is still critical it no longer provides adequate protection. The cloud, mobile and an increasingly distributed IT environment have created a “perimeter” that is porous and ill-defined.

Security risks have also increased due to shifts in wide-area network (WAN) connectivity. In the past, organizations would connect branch offices to headquarters using dedicated private lines or multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) services. Branch locations typically did not connect directly to the Internet. Instead, Internet traffic was backhauled over the WAN through headquarters, which had more robust defenses.

MPLS is reliable and secure but also extremely expensive. In addition, it’s not well-suited to today’s network traffic patterns, which emphasize Internet services, cloud-based applications and communication tools such as voice over IP (VoIP) and video conferencing. Backhauling Internet traffic creates latency that impacts the user experience. Direct local access to the Internet provides a better user experience at a much lower cost. However, the Internet is not reliable or secure.

The need to connect branch locations directly to the Internet is one of many factors driving the adoption of software-defined WAN (SD-WAN). SD-WAN makes it possible to mix multiple data transport services, including broadband Internet, to create a hybrid WAN. The “software-defined” component is a communications overlay and policy-based automation that selects the best path for WAN traffic based upon network conditions and application requirements. This helps to overcome the inherent unreliability of the Internet, enabling organizations to reduce WAN expenses significantly by taking advantage of more cost-efficient bandwidth.

But what about security? Doesn’t a direct Internet connection amplify security risks? Yes, but the right SD-WAN can help to enhance security across the distributed IT environment. Best-in-class SD-WAN solutions use standards-based authentication and encryption to protect data traveling over the Internet.

Security is a core component of InSpeed’s SD-WAN solution. InSpeed Quality Service (IQS) is a cloud-based controller that prioritizes network traffic, manages bandwidth and ensures that business policies are enforced over any connection. The InSpeed cloud instance is located in a hardened data center with the highest levels of security.

A small on-premises network appliance is installed in-line with a site’s WAN connections, sending all traffic over a secure VPN tunnel to the InSpeed cloud. Robust, end-to-end encryption gives added security to enterprise WAN traffic.

IQS makes it easy to set up a secure, private, site-to-site network mesh using broadband Internet connections. It provides the same level of security and reliability as a carrier circuit along with the Quality of Service (QoS) features that InSpeed is known for, as well as the critical components of a firewall that protect against external attacks—all included in our standard product. In addition, InSpeed minimizes the security risks associated with remote workers connecting to the corporate network. By integrating the remote user into the corporate WAN mesh, InSpeed secures the connection from a small office/home office to headquarters without the need for complex firewall configuration and management.

Firewalls and other perimeter defenses are still key elements of a layered security approach. However, cloud connectivity and the distributed nature of today’s IT environment means that data is traversing the Internet as well as private networks. IQS helps to protect that data while ensuring a high-quality user experience.

Does MPLS Still Have a Role to Play in the Modern Software-Defined WAN?

Hint: You Can Get the Best of Both Worlds.

Software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) is often touted as a cost-saving technology that enables organizations to slash their telecom expenses. The savings typically comes through the elimination of multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) services, which are reliable and secure but also very expensive compared to other data transport options. However, pigeonholing SD-WAN as the “anti MPLS” solution overlooks one of its primary benefits: flexibility.

First, a little history. MPLS has its roots in traditional “leased line” telco circuits that provided a fixed path from point A to point B. Designed to improve IP network traffic performance, MPLS adds a label to the data packet header that determines the forwarding path the data should follow.

In essence, MPLS creates a virtual “leased line” by carving out a fixed path over a Layer 3 routed IP network that’s shared by multiple customers. End-user customers add virtual private network (VPN) “tunnels” to encrypt traffic, providing security.

MPLS has been widely deployed because of its inherent reliability and security. Broadband Internet, in contrast, is a “best effort” medium that traditionally has been used only for low-priority traffic or in areas where MPLS was not an option.

MPLS was great for multi-branch locations during its heyday but is limited in performance and sold at two orders of magnitude higher cost per bit. One of its limitations is that all locations need to be connected to the same service provider, which increases the cost and, in some cases, precludes its use due to lack of availability. Although generally more reliable than broadband Internet, it is manually configured and prone to performance and availability issues due to service provider configuration errors.

There are other drawbacks as well. Provisioning MPLS service or adding bandwidth typically requires significant lead time – weeks and months. And MPLS may not be available in some remote locations.

SD-WAN gives customers the flexibility to choose the best data transport service(s) for their needs without sacrificing the benefits of MPLS. Commodity broadband Internet connections — which are cheaper, more widely available and faster to provision than MPLS — can be combined to create a WAN that is highly resilient.

Customers hesitant to simply drop MPLS can create hybrid networks with commodity broadband in conjunction with MPLS. Best-in-class SD-WAN solutions continuously monitor network conditions and make automatic, load balancing routing decisions. Sub-second failover protects against service provider outages with little to no impact on the user experience. VPN tunnels with end-to-end encryption protect data as it travels over the public Internet.

Given the critical importance of the WAN to business operations, many network administrators are reluctant to move away from MPLS. And they don’t have to. Again, SD-WAN provides flexibility and choice. MPLS can be maintained for traditional data center traffic and other connectivity options added to handle Internet traffic.

Many of InSpeed’s customers have indeed used our SD-WAN solution to eliminate MPLS. They found that InSpeed and broadband provided better performance and Quality of Service than MPLS — so why pay the premium price? But that’s a business decision. We believe that MPLS still has a role to play in the modern WAN and give you the flexibility to leverage it along with other data transport options.


Kentucky Company Reduces Telecom Costs by 72 Percent and Gains Higher-Quality Service

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Reducing Telecom Costs without Sacrificing Quality of Service

It’s human nature to think that an expensive product is better than a lower-cost product. There’s a degree of logic to that—why would the market support a higher cost if there wasn’t some value behind it?

When it comes to multiprotocol label switching (MPLS), however, the price of the service has little to do with the cost of delivery or the functionality that’s provided. Quite simply, it comes down to what the market will bear.

Historically, there have been limited options when it comes to wide-area network (WAN) connectivity. The telcos pretty much owned the road, and developed MPLS to more efficiently handle growing volumes of Internet traffic. Because MPLS is offered by just a handful of providers, the price is relatively high.

The broadband Internet market, by contrast, is highly competitive, which drives down prices. Broadband Internet typically costs $.75 to $2.00 per megabit per month. MPLS, in contrast, ranges from $75 to $200 per megabit per month depending on location. Granted, broadband Internet is a “best-effort” service, while MPLS creates a private WAN with guaranteed bandwidth. It takes better equipment and more engineers to deliver MPLS, but that doesn’t explain such a huge discrepancy.

Fact is, many IT professionals believe that broadband Internet is inadequate for enterprise WAN connectivity. They’re concerned that the cost of downtime and of troubleshooting problems across dozens or even hundreds of locations would offset any savings from a cheaper service.

However, MPLS is starting to show its age. Organizations that rely heavily on cloud-based applications and services find that MPLS creates bottlenecks. Furthermore, MPLS doesn’t provide the advanced traffic shaping needed to ensure high-quality IP communications.

Twenty Times the Bandwidth, 72 Percent Lowered Costs

A Kentucky-based technology company was using MPLS to connect its two corporate offices in Louisville and Lexington. The company was frustrated with the high cost of MPLS, and began looking for alternatives. Software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) seemed like a good solution, but it had to provide Quality of Service (QoS) for voice and video conferencing.

After reviewing SD-WAN products from a number of vendors, the company selected InSpeed Quality Service (IQS). IQS is the only SD-WAN solution that’s purpose built to ensure performance for interactive applications. It gives interactive traffic priority over ordinary Internet traffic, and manages bandwidth utilization from end to end to reduce congestion for all applications.

After implementing IQS with a broadband Internet connection, the company found that voice call quality immediately improved. The company’s 65 employees could communicate with each other and with customers without the jitter, echoes and other issues they experienced with MPLS.

But what about reducing telecom costs? The company had been paying $1,920 for two 5Mbps MPLS circuits, plus another $180 for an MPLS-to-Internet connection in its Louisville location. That’s $2,100 per month for relatively little bandwidth. Now, the company has a 100Mbps Internet connection plus IQS in each location, for a total cost of just $600 per month. With InSpeed, the company enjoys 20 times the bandwidth for 72 percent lower cost per month, with improved call quality.

InSpeed’s SD-WAN solution proves that more expensive isn’t necessarily better. Let us show you how IQS can save you a bundle while ensuring high-quality business communications and cloud access. Check out the case study referenced here, or reach out to our team to get started to find out how much money IQS can save for your company.


Retailer Weathers Hurricane Irma While Reducing Network Costs by More Than Half [Case Study]

[cs_content][cs_element_section _id=”1″][cs_element_row _id=”2″][cs_element_column _id=”3″][x_custom_headline level=”h1″ looks_like=”h1″ accent=”true” class=”cs-ta-center” style=”color: hsl(0, 0%, 100%);”]Retailer Maintains Business Continuity During Hurricane[/x_custom_headline][x_custom_headline level=”h2″ looks_like=”h3″ accent=”false” class=”cs-ta-center” style=”color: hsl(0, 0%, 100%);”]SD-WAN Failover to the Rescue as Network Costs Halved[/x_custom_headline][/cs_element_column][/cs_element_row][cs_element_row _id=”11″][cs_element_column _id=”12″][cs_element_headline _id=”13″][cs_element_text _id=”14″][/cs_element_column][cs_element_column _id=”15″][cs_element_headline _id=”16″][cs_element_text _id=”17″][cs_element_headline _id=”18″][cs_element_text _id=”19″][/cs_element_column][/cs_element_row][/cs_element_section][cs_element_section _id=”24″][cs_element_row _id=”25″][cs_element_column _id=”26″][cs_element_headline _id=”27″][cs_element_text _id=”28″][/cs_element_column][/cs_element_row][/cs_element_section][cs_element_section _id=”34″][cs_element_row _id=”35″][cs_element_column _id=”36″][cs_element_headline _id=”37″][cs_element_text _id=”38″][/cs_element_column][/cs_element_row][/cs_element_section][cs_element_section _id=”44″][cs_element_row _id=”45″][cs_element_column _id=”46″][cs_element_headline _id=”47″][cs_element_text _id=”48″][/cs_element_column][/cs_element_row][/cs_element_section][cs_element_section _id=”54″][cs_element_row _id=”55″][cs_element_column _id=”56″][cs_element_text _id=”57″][/cs_element_column][/cs_element_row][cs_element_row _id=”63″][cs_element_column _id=”64″][cs_element_text _id=”65″][/cs_element_column][/cs_element_row][cs_element_row _id=”71″][cs_element_column _id=”72″][cs_element_button _id=”73″][/cs_element_column][/cs_element_row][/cs_element_section][/cs_content]

How Spectrio Eliminated MPLS and Saved Thousands While Improving Quality of Service

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