GWAN – Gekko’s Unique SD WAN Solution.

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Written by John Donlon
John Donlon
John Donlon

Welcome to the third instalment of our exploration into software defined wide area networks. In the previous blogs we’ve discussed the benefits of SD WANs and how they work. Our Cisco qualified team have high level of experience and knowledge in developing Cisco systems and solutions. By combining this with knowledge of existing WANs, they have created GWAN. John Donlan, Gekko CTO, explains more:

GWAN is a suite of components that brings WAN optimisation, performance routing, and the security levels of leased lines and expensive MPLS VPN services to the public Internet. Businesses can lower their WAN transport costs without giving up any business-class VPN capabilities:

The user experience is excellent as GWAN makes use of technologies such as application optimisation and intelligent path control to provide users with ready, all-the-time access to the applications they need.

Security is also excellent, making use of IPSEC Dynamic Multipoint VPNs (DMVPNs) as well as Cloud Web Security for applications delivered from the cloud.

GWAN saves costs by giving the ability to substitute expensive standby WAN connectivity such as MPLS and leased lines for cheaper public Internet links, along with this, Performance Routing intelligently routes and WAN optimization optimises your traffic through the overlay network (Private DMVPN Cloud)

GWAN Layers

GWAN consist of 4 distinct layers that build together to form the complete end to end WAN solution.

These Layers are:

  • Infrastructure
  • Logical Overlay
  • Optimisation
  • Management

Using this layered approach allows us to deliver a flexible WAN solution. Not all layers need to be delivered at the same time for the solution to deliver benefits. For example, the Logical layer can be built over an existing physical network to provide for a more secure and resilient network.

Infrastructure Layer

The physical layer of GWAN is based upon the circuits and Cisco physical and virtual routers.

Using GWAN we can utilise circuits from any provider to allow us to choose the most cost effective circuit at each site. We can also use multiple circuit types and providers to provide total resiliency. The network is based upon industry standard Cisco routers which are built using open standards and are the most widely deployed and supported platform for WANs. We can also use Cisco virtual routers to extend your WAN into Cloud platforms such as Azure and Amazon Web services, so you don’t need to reply on proprietary VPN gateways for each cloud provider.

Logical Overlay

Over the top of the physical network we build a logical WAN using Dynamic Multipoint VPN, DMVPN. GWAN provides capabilities for easy multi-homing over any carrier service offering, including Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), broadband, and cellular 3G/4G/LTE. More importantly, the design simplifies the routing design with a single routing control plane and minimal peering to providers, making it easy for organisations to mix and match and change providers and transport options. Two or more WAN transport providers are recommended to increase network availability up to 99.999%. Additionally, the Cisco DMVPN solution provides an industry-proven and U.S. government FIPS 140-2 certified IPsec solution for data privacy and integrity protection, and automatic site-to-site IP Security (IPsec) tunnels.

Optimisation Layer

Within the Logical Overlay we can utilise the following technologies to optimise and reduce traffic flow across the WAN

These technologies are:

  • Application Visibility and Control,
  • Performance Routing
  • Wan Acceleration
  • Akamai Connect

Application Visibility and Control, AVC

With applications becoming increasingly opaque due to increase reuse of well-known ports such as HTTP (port 80), static port classification of applications are no longer sufficient. Cisco AVC provides application awareness with deep packet inspection of traffic to identify and monitor applications’ performance. Visibility and control at the application level (layer 7) is provided through AVC technologies such as Network-Based Application Recognition 2 (NBAR2), NetFlow, quality of service (QoS), Performance Monitoring, Medianet, and more. AVC allows your IT to determine what traffic is running across the network, tune the network for business- critical services, and resolve network problems. With increased visibility into the applications on the network, better QoS and PfR policies can be enabled to help ensure that critical applications are properly prioritised across the network

Performance Routing, PfR:

PfR dynamically controls data packet forwarding decisions by looking at application type, performance, policies, and path status. PfR protects business applications from fluctuating WAN performance while intelligently load-balancing traffic over the best performing path based on the application policy. PfR monitors the network performance – jitter, packet loss, delay – and makes decisions to forward critical applications over the best performing path based on the application policy.

Wan Acceleration, WAAS:

Cisco WAAS provides application-specific acceleration capabilities that improve response times while reducing WAN bandwidth requirements.

Akamai Connect:

GWAN with Akamai Connect combines Cisco’s advanced WAN optimisation and application acceleration capabilities with Akamai caching technology in the all-in-one Integrated Services Router (ISR) platform. The technologies all work together to manage traffic loads and application behavior, speeding content delivery and optimising user experiences.

Management Layer

Once the network has been deployed we can then provide a flexible management service which can range from a light touch 3rd line escalation point to a complete managed service for the GWAN. The management layer can cover:

  • Gekko Technical Support including access to Cisco CCIE and CCDE certified individuals
  • Change Management
  • Alerting
  • Performance and Capacity Management
  • Application/Netflow Reporting
  • Hardware Break Fix Support
  • Cisco TAC escalation
  • Cisco APIC-EM Controller

To discover more about GWAN and how it could save you time, money and improve your productivity complete the form below:

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About John Donlon

John DonlonA leader in data centre design and technical leadership, John started his career in desktop support for Balfour Beatty over 15 years ago. Since then he has specialised in network design, implementation and support and has worked for BT Barclays Bank, Littlewoods and Cooperative bank. During his time at these companies he has successfully managed the implementation of large scale data centre and Wide Area Networks. In 2011 John achieved the Cisco Certified Design Expert certification, CCDE. John was only the 50th individual to pass the exam since its inception in 2007. Currently there only around 200 CDDEs worldwide. John joined Gekko as cofounder in 2012 and currently provides technical leadership for Gekko in the fields of data centre and managed services.

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