CIO Review >> Magazine >> April - 2013 issue

Talari Networks: The Antidote to Dilating WAN Performance and Predictability

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Friday, April 5, 2013

Sagaya Christuraj Enterprise WANs are changing due to the need for more bandwidth, better resiliency, expectations of high network quality and constant pressure to reduce WAN costs. While demands in the WAN space have changed rapidly, innovation in that industry has not kept up. WAN Optimization was invented about a decade ago and it was a huge step forward to help IT managers keep bandwidth demands down, for a while. These new requirements have stretched the limits of WAN Optimization and today there is an innovation gap in WAN technologies and architecture, leaving IT managers with no new tools in their toolbox to address these new changing WAN requirements. The result is the need for IT managers to have technology that ensures business-critical, real-time collaboration applications run smoothly without the risk of loss, jitter or latency, which could lead to costly lost business opportunities and dramatically reduce employee productivity.

When the office staff and patients at Kool Smiles, a national provider of dental care, faced intermittent and chronic T1 outages that sometimes lasted for days, poor application performance, slow file sharing and dropped VoIP (Voice Over IP) calls ? though they had a carrier-class T1 MPLS network in place ? they were in a state of disarray. Adding to their woes was the fact that the company's internal SLAs were 99.9+ percent and they could not meet that without better technology that could provide much more granular QoS. Kool Smiles was faced with the challenges to spread the network across multiple carrier circuits with more robust QoS capability, the ability to aggregate bandwidth for bursting and seamlessly and instantly move network traffic between circuits. Talari Networks, led by CEO and President Emerick Woods, came to the aid of Kool Smiles. By intelligently aggregating low-cost broadband connections to existing MPLS links, Kool Smiles achieved many performance and reliability benefits and a more granular QoS than standard carrier-class QoS. Additionally, Talari helped Kool Smiles reduce its ongoing network spend by over 30 percent with its family of Mercury WAN appliances. "Our VoIP traffic is the most critical on our network since we process tens of thousands of calls daily. With Talari, even in the case of network failure, our VoIP calls never go down ensuring an 'always-on' high quality VoIP calling experience," says Kool Smiles' Chief Technical Architect Mark Blomquist praising Talari Networks.

Systematic Chaos in the WAN Space

As a direct result of centralization and virtualization, the demand for bandwidth has risen. Enterprises work with limited bandwidth at most of their remote locations, and Internet access at the branch is often slow and inefficient. To support application demands, user demands and enterprise use of cloud computing, the team at Talari Networks understood that the Enterprise WAN needs a lot more bandwidth, and Internet access needs to be high-performance and predictable. Internet access from branches is mostly slow because of limited bandwidth, which is shared across both intranet and Internet access usage over multiple connections including existing private WANs, such as MPLS, which is very expensive. After a thorough research of the industry, venture-backed Talari Networks, which has raised funds of more than 20 million dollars, has recognized that enterprises also expect high network quality since real-time interactive applications depend on it. The rise and use of real-time and interactive applications, such as VoIP, video conferencing and VDI, requires high levels of application performance predictability, including no tolerance for dropped lines, latency, or jitter, forms a big part of the challenge facing enterprises. "Despite the fact that they need more bandwidth, reliability and high network quality, Talari is aware that companies need to accomplish this while also controlling network costs," says Emerick. In addition, Talari is also keeping in mind the rise of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), which demands the access of applications and data, anytime and anywhere.

The technology behind Talari's Claim to Fame
Talari Networks, founded in 2007 and headquartered in San Jose, is revolutionizing the WAN industry by allowing Enterprise IT to achieve the goal of a high quality WAN without necessarily upgrading the individual WAN links and reduce their monthly or annual WAN costs, increase bandwidth and achieve better WAN performance, predictability and reliability with the use of their patented Adaptive Private Networking (APN) operating software. APN aggregates Internet connectivity in parallel with dynamic pathways to create a WAN with greater reliability and performance. By measuring the characteristics of each path multiple times per second, APN can build a real-time map of the quality of each path within the network. It then performs sub-second path decisions on a per-packet basis, taking into account the collected data on that path, the class of traffic and the management policies established through configuration settings. Unlike other companies which deploy conventional WAN Optimization tools that only measure, monitor and report on network characteristics, Talari Networks' approach takes mitigating action based on the collected data and alleviates the effect of latency, loss and jitter. WANs appear to have virtually zero-packet loss, as the APN replicates packets efficiently sending them over multiple paths while discarding redundant packets as needed without creating unnecessary overhead. Talari enables network managers to use multiple WAN connections (existing private WANs such as MPLS), as well as any kind of Internet WAN links, be it DSL, cable, fiber or Metro Ethernet to augment or replace individual private WAN connections, which is commonly called WAN Virtualization. Hence, Talari Networks' technology revolutionizes the economics of the enterprise WAN by transforming affordable abundant broadband links into a highly reliable, high performance private network.

Talari Networks achieves these goals with a range of its Mercury family of WAN appliances, serving customers who have as little as four locations to more than 100. A customer with an international footprint does pose a challenge due to the need for even more connectivity. However, Talari's Mercury WAN appliances are designed to support 28 MB of aggregated bandwidth, which serve SOHOs, to 6 GB of aggregated bandwidth to support large international organizations and data centers and call centers, allowing these big data companies to overcome the problem, while also supporting their need for vendor diversity.

Virtualizing the future

Despite all the buzz and hopes of Software-Defined Network's (SDN) potential making inroads in the LAN space, its applicability for WANs is still years away from being a reality. But if SDNs do expand beyond the data center and into the wide area network, then Talari is uniquely positioned to provide that service.
"Today we are delivering Talari as an appliance," says Emerick on the future plans of Talari Networks. "But in the future, we plan to deliver it as an option, as a virtualized service."