These Wide Area Network Challenges are Failing Us

As recent advances and businesses challenge legacy wide area networks in a variety of ways, network operators anticipate that next-generation wide-area networks will provide assured quality-of-service (QoS) transmission, convenient network management, and large cost efficiency. Today's rapid network expansion, as well as the emergence of new applications and operational situations, imposes high demands on wide area networks.

QoS-Guaranteed Transmission and Best-Effort Mentality

In the Era of the internet, a wide area network is among the most important networks. It typically sends data over large distances. It is often engineered to provide best-effort delivery and does not promise whether application requirements will be met. Data traffic is carried via fragile physical linkages and network devices in wide-area networks under adverse conditions. The frequency of failures on links and devices has a significant impact on data transmission performance and user-perceived QoE. Furthermore, classic wide area networks determine packet routing channels using dispersed protocols.

Wireless wide area network
Wireless wide area network

Because common protocols like OSPF change link weights at a granularity of tens of seconds, they aren't sensitive enough to unexpected breakdowns on wide area networks, causing network performance to suffer even more. It's difficult to give satisfactory service with a best-effort approach in these circumstances.

Data transmissions across wide area networks are becoming more demanding as new applications and operational scenarios emerge.

In the context of cloud gaming, for example, low network latency is essential to ensure player engagements and the customer experience; telemedicine also relies on low latency networks to create real-time operations, which are frequently required to be within a few hundred milliseconds. Such new apps and scenarios are incompatible with classic WAN's outmoded best-effort approach.

Easy Monitoring and Manual Configuration

To meet the demand for expanding business, companies open more and more branch offices in various geographic places and scale up their networks on a regular basis. At times, ISPs must deal with the demands of launching new enterprises in their networks. Hundreds and thousands of network devices have been added to these wide area networks over many years of development, and each piece of equipment should indeed be configured in a low-level vendor-specific manner. To efficiently upgrade the network, network operators must typically set up these equipments manually, which takes time and slows down business progress.

Nastier, the rapid development of the network, combined with fluctuating networking conditions, forces network operators to make manual modifications to network configurations on a regular basis, further complicating the process and adding new configuration problems. Because managing traditional networks is often a time-consuming and error-prone task, when businesses or Internet service providers modify their network design, they must appoint a large number of network operators and spend a significant amount of time doing so, with no assurance of accuracy.

Low power wide area network (LPWAN)
Low power wide area network (LPWAN)

Traditional WANs are struggling to keep up with the demands of flexible and rapid network changes. The situation is worsened by the fact that the application requirements are constantly changing. Some Internet events, such as Black Friday, for example, require e-commerce operators to provisionally expand bandwidth in order to cope with the expected surge in data traffic.

Network operators must invest a significant amount of time and effort to add bandwidth prior to big events and then remove it later. Such events are becoming more popular as a result of the development of Internet services, and network operators are looking forward to simple network management methodologies.

Large Cost Efficiency and Poor Link Utilization

Network companies are likewise concerned about the cost-effectiveness of wide-area networks. Wide-area network bandwidth, as is widely known, is a costly resource, costing hundreds of millions of dollars per year to supply 100s of Gbps to Tbps of bandwidth over vast distances. To meet the transmission demands, network operators must construct significantly higher bandwidth capacity to keep up with the rapid development of Internet traffic volume. According to a Cisco report, global IP traffic increased more than threefold between 2017 and 2022, implying that the cost of wide-area network connectivity will climb many times in the next years. Because the expansion of throughput on wide area networks has slowed for several years, the disparity between demand and supply should be carefully evaluated and handled.

Despite the fact that throughput on wide-area networks is a scarce and important resource, it is hardly used. Even the busiest links on inter-datacenter, wide area networks are only used 40-60% of the time. There are two factors that contribute to the inefficiency. In the first place, WAN link and device failures are common. Wide area networks are frequently over-provisioned to hide such failures.

Wide Area Network optimization
Wide Area Network optimization

The second issue is a lack of cooperation among services that share a network. Typically, services send traffic anytime and as much as they want, resulting in a large rise in bandwidth demand. Network operators must overprovision to manage traffic peaks to avoid bottlenecks and packet losses inside networks, resulting in the network being under-subscribed on average.

Low network usage prohibits network providers from fully realizing the value of their investments, which is contrary to the goal of achieving high cost-efficiency.

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