MPLS IS DEAD

Make the evolutionary leap to SD-WAN as a Service

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Find out more about the cutting-edge technologies SD-WAN as a Service incorporates

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The UK's First Software Defined Access Network

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It's time to make connectivity smarter

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Automating the Wide Area Network - Why you Need an SD-WAN

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Find out more about the cutting-edge technologies that underpin our Internet Connectivity offerings

Blog

The UK's First Software Defined Access Network

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News

It's time to make connectivity smarter

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Case Studies

Vindis Group

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Whitepapers

Automating the Wide Area Network - Why you Need an SD-WAN

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Category: Blog

Resilience at Every Level

Being online in this connected world is becoming more and more important, and businesses are starting to recognise there is a way of eliminating downtime, allowing staff to keep on working.

It’s fundamental isn’t it?  Almost every system we interact with, and certainly the ones your business will move to in the coming few years, need to be connected to the internet.

That’s one of the reasons SD-WAN is on the rise.

SD-WAN is all about staying online.

What’s the point of prioritising your VoIP traffic if you are offline and can’t make any calls?

Why spend all that money on a high bandwidth leased line, if you can’t ensure you can always use that bandwidth?

That’s where we need to embrace the tenets of Software-Defined Networking across the board, with resilience at every level in your business.

We don’t question having staff cover each other when they are on holiday, or sick.  If you regularly buy something important for your business, you probably have diversity of supply.

Planning for failure is a key part of running a business.

And that’s why we took building our ecosystem so seriously.  We wanted to create something that transcended a normal network.  Something fundamentally different from ISP networks the world over.

Resilience at every level, multiple appliances on your site, multiple internet links connected to them, multiple core routers in multiple datacentres.  Different ISPs delivering each link.  Different connectivity technologies too.  Wired and wireless.

THAT’S diversity that can protect your business.

More than one of something for redundancy.  Different types for lowering risk.

When you’re purchasing an SD-WAN, you need to change the way you think about connectivity, and not let yourself get hemmed in with traditional notions of networking.

By creating intelligent, distributed software and pairing it with our multi-VNO access network, Evolving Networks delivers resilient, reliable and agile connectivity for businesses of all sizes.  Let your imagination go a little.  Stop conforming to what network providers tell you is possible in their legacy tech world.

If you want to stay online, you need SD-WAN as a Service from Evolving Networks.

High Availability

In case you’d wondered, we are all about High Availability at Evolving Networks.  It’s at the core of everything we do – keeping businesses online.

With a simple philosophy of using software to make connectivity better, we embraced the power of negative thinking and over-engineering to come up with a unique ecosystem of network and products.  By integrating our software with our CPE and multi-VNO access network we can make your connectivity as resilient as you like.

But is it all about the network?  One aspect long ignored by SD-WAN providers across the globe is of the single point of failure that is your endpoint device.

It’s all very well feeding it with multiple links, from multiple carriers, with multiple tail types.  Do all that and you’ve got a really resilient connection.  But it’s still running through a single box on your premises.

This is where we’ve taken the next step with our technology.  Applying the software overlay to multiple appliances on site.

We’ve always wanted to bring the technology of the datacentre to the edge.  Our Intelligent Network Fabric was always designed to run from customer sites to more than one datacentre.  We have taken the same technology and extended it all the way into your offices.

Instead of a single EVX unit, we can supply two or more, connected up permanently to all onsite links.  If one EVX develops a fault, the next one will immediately kick in.

But unlike old-fashioned methods of failover, our INF is there on each device all the time, able to pass data.  There is no configuration change to move from the primary to secondary EVX.  There is no need for central orchestration or an engineer.  It just works.

High Availability has often been expensive, or complex, so most SD-WAN providers haven’t even tackled it.  If they do, its based on old methods of central automated orchestration rather than superior Active-Active networking.

Hardware resilience is important, and we’ll back it up with an improved SLA for every HA pair of appliances.  The important thing is that you stay online.  Prepare for it now, rather than waiting until it does happen.

2019 Investment – 4 New Staff

As the market for SD-WAN and resilient internet connections continues to grow quickly in the UK, we welcome 4 new members of staff to boost our delivery, sales and support functions.

After recognising the need for businesses to stay online and connect together in a flexible, scalable and cost-effective way with SD-WAN, Evolving Networks have embarked on a new push to expand in order to successfully deliver more and more new customer projects.

We’ve welcomed 4 new Evolvians into our team, who together will augment our Sales, Service Delivery and Technical Support teams.

This is a key investment in what will be a crucial year for SD-WAN, as more and more business leaders and IT professionals come to realise that MPLS has had its day, and that its time to put cumbersome old WAN technologies like VPN in the bin.

In a world replete with software, SD-WAN and all the Evolving Networks software technologies are here to make connectivity better, enabling businesses to specialise in what they do best, serve their customers.

These new hires reflect our commitment to software-defined networking now and into the next decade.  We’re putting our money where our mouth is, and expanding our teams as more and companies choose SD-WAN as a Service.

Everybody hates their VPN

VPNs have been around for a long time.  They have been the de facto way of connecting a small number of offices and sites together until a company is ready for a bigger network strategy.

Part of the reason for their popularity is the low direct cost.  Lots of site to site VPNs are essentially free, or at least have little or no licence costs.  There aren’t many business grade firewalls that don’t have native VPN capability now.

But herein lies the problem.  Firewall manufacturers are security providers.  Bundling VPN technology into a firewall is a tick-box exercise for them.  They aren’t VPN specialists, they just have a list of technologies they need on their compatible features.

Because of that, the VPNs are complex to set up, are flaky and unreliable.

We’ve all been there.

“I can’t open the shared folders any more”

“The MD can’t access the company drives from home”

“the phones have stopped working again”

“why is this file transfer so slow?”

VPNs have become something IT managers have to do, and they do so reluctantly.  They don’t like their VPN, but they can’t afford what is a huge step up to a fully managed WAN.

Importantly, what looks from the outset to be free, turns out to be costly in many other ways.

What this well-worn scenario hides is the fact tunnelling technology has taken several generational leaps forward in recent years.  The ability to encapsulate data and send it somewhere else, securely and yes, easily, is at the heart of the successor product to VPN – SD-WAN.

For more than ten years, we have been providing internet connections that rely on that encrypted tunnelling technology – they are the very network fabric that enables everything that we do.

And it just works.

We realised some time ago that, because we are already tunnelling data between sites for internet use, we can with no extra complexity, tunnel that traffic between sites as wells.  And with no limit.

All the same benefits of our Multipath Ethernet connectivity – zero-touch QoS, bandwidth aggregation, link redundancy – but with your biggest hassle removed: your troublesome VPN.

Our SD-WAN as a Service is a direct VPN replacement service – and for anyone who already has an EVX, it’s a simple matter of routing.

After all, VPNs are just software – and software defined connectivity is what we do best.  If you’re sick of your VPN, speak to us and we’ll talk you through the benefits an SD-WAN can deliver.

SD-WAN QoS is so much better than MPLS

Upgrading to an MPLS network has always been a badge of honour.  Making the leap to, usually, expensive fibre leased lines, away from broadband, connecting your offices together with mystical but often misunderstood technology has until now been seen as the obvious and logical course of action for any maturing network.

But there is a new kid on the block called SD-WAN.  Well, we’ve actually been supplying Software-Defined WAN connections to UK businesses since 2008.  In fact, we are the UK’s only SD-WAN software vendor, with a pedigree going back over 10 years.

With an MPLS link, if you want to protect your mission critical applications there are some clunky and inefficient ways of trying to do it.

You’ll need to fill in some complex forms with your MPLS provider and try to classify your traffic.  This isn’t simple.  You don’t just say to your provider on the phone “I’d like to make sure consumer video streaming services don’t impact my CRM users”.

No, what you end up needing to do is perform that network traffic classification yourself on your router, in order to tag packets ready for the MPLS link.

Then, as long as you’ve been explicit with the MPLS provider about the types of tags that have been set on the packets you are sending, they will honour those priorities (or at least try to) as those packets traverse the provider’s network.

You can only do this one way.  Upload only.  You can’t set any priorities for your download traffic.  This is fire and forget, and hope for the best.

In fact, most MPLS networks installed for UK businesses never have any priority set anywhere.  It’s too cumbersome, customers just rely on the bandwidth of the leased lines being enough (let’s be honest this is more about hope than reliance).

Most businesses aren’t even aware they should expect more from their connectivity.

Why shouldn’t the IT guys be able to run the off-site backup 24/7 while VoIP users make calls?

SD-WAN connections allow businesses to reset their expectations at a much higher level.

Why settle for QoS only on the upload?  SD-WAN gives true, bi-directional QoS so that you can prioritise your download just as much as your upload.

Why must you configure your own complex router to tag packets?  With an SD-WAN connection, those packets are prioritised and queued for you, no matter the sophistication of the router or firewall you have, or your own IT expertise at configuring it.

And then of course, why be restricted to expensive leased lines only?  Sure, with an MPLS network you could have an ADSL or FTTC (if it’s available) instead.  But just one?  Using multiple circuits of different types is the answer, and again only SD-WAN has this ability.

This isn’t some basic load balancing, this is a full logical connection aggregating all the bandwidth of every connection.  So yes, you can have your leased lines where they are needed, but where broadband will suffice, use that instead.  And if you want to increase resilience then just add more circuits of any type.

This is about user experience.  Putting to one side the problems of service outages that are solved by multi-path connectivity, what your users need is consistency.  They need speed.  They need to not even think about connectivity.

Software-Defined WAN connections with their intent-based, zero-touch implementation of QoS are a game changer.  This is the technology that networking has always needed, and its abilities far exceed simple, legacy MPLS.

It’s time to develop a new badge of honour.  It’s time to recognise SD-WAN as the natural successor to MPLS.

Bandwidth Hoggery – Poor Geoff

So, you’ve done it. You’ve pushed the boss to put her hand in her pocket, you’ve waited three months, and its in. Your shiny new leased line. You’ve waited years to be the proud owner of your own dedicated bit of fibre – your business has come of age. You’ve arrived.

Anticipation has been building over the months since the order was placed, your staff are as excited as you are.  The VoIP phone system is ready to be commissioned, a new age of cheap calls, advanced telephony functionality and slick, seamless web browsing and remote application working awaits.

So, why are some blinking phone calls dropping? Why isn’t the call quality always perfect? Who’s more disappointed, you… or the boss?

The truth is, whoever is the most disappointed doesn’t matter. The fact is, it’s usually Geoff’s fault.  Poor Geoff. He needs to download those reports throughout the day to do his job. It’s not his fault they are all at least 200MB and clog up the internet connection.

The truth is they clogged up the old ADSL link, its been his fault all along. The fact that the 100mbps leased line has reduced the time he spends waiting for the files to download and then upload again hasn’t even impressed him very much. It now takes about 10 seconds rather than about 10 minutes – great, that means he hasn’t got an excuse to go have another coffee break.

Meanwhile, everyone else is now using the internet connection to make phone calls, so that 10 seconds it takes to download Geoff’s report – as well as annoying him by curtailing his coffee break flirtations with the lovely Gladys in Accounts – is more than enough time to kill every phone call in the building and kick the Support guys off their remote desktop sessions.

No one’s happy.

In truth there are many reasons why a leased line makes a lot of sense. You might be managing a transition to cloud based working practises, scaling up your workforce or linking to another office.  These are all viable reasons to increase capacity and resilience. But, and this is important, simply throwing bandwidth at the problem isn’t the answer.

We love leased lines, we sell a lot of them, and we deliver leased line capacity up to and beyond 1Gbps.  But we always deliver native, bi-directional Quality of Service with each and every internet connection we supply, leased line or not.

These days files are large, and data is always on the move. It’s perfectly possible to send & receive files that, albeit briefly, clog up the capacity of even the chunkiest leased lines. This is where QoS comes to the fore. By intelligently managing the flow of data over your internet connection, critical data – the time sensitive stuff, like voice calls – is given priority over bulk transfers.

So Geoff’s file might take an extra five seconds to download, or that ZIP file you’re emailing your supplier might take a minute to leave your outbox. These are the things no one notices. Well, maybe Geoff because that’s still not enough extra time to woo the lovely Gladys. The important bit is the sales people don’t get their calls interrupted, the support guys can do their remote desktop sessions, and everyone’s web browsing remains snappy.

QoS delivers happy users. Don’t fall into the trap of believing leased lines alone are the panacea.  And spare a thought for Geoff – he’s just doing his job. Is it really his fault?

Evolving Networks and Vonage Joint Offering Infographic

To support our partnership with Vonage, we’ve come up with a quick infographic which outlines the core strengths of the Evolving Networks connectivity offering, and the technical integration which enables us to work together with Vonage to deliver a compelling unified comms offering to our mutual customers.

Best of breed software vendors, delivering their own services, working together.  No resellers or other third parties involved.

Get in touch today to find out how your business could benefit from intelligent, resilient connectivity supporting your business VoIP.

Download infographic

Evolving Networks launch VoIP Partnership with Vonage

Evolving Networks, the UK’s only SD-WAN vendor has partnered with Vonage, the leading provider of hosted VoIP solutions, to present a complete connectivity and telephony offering to the UK business market.

Having conducted extensive research over the last five years Evolving Networks are satisfied that the Vonage offering represents the best value and technical solution in the unified comms arena.

Nick Johnson, CEO of Evolving Networks, says, “We don’t want to be all things to all men, we just concentrate on delivering exceptional internet connectivity and SD-WAN solutions.  However, we are regularly asked about VoIP solutions, and who we might recommend to our customers.  We’ve researched multiple vendors over the last few years and the Vonage offering stands head and shoulders above the others we looked at.”

The partnership sees the two businesses working together to serve mutual customers, with each playing to their strengths.  Evolving Networks have created a bespoke QoS profile which ensures Vonage traffic gets prioritised through their multi-VNO network, meaning all Evolving Networks connectivity customers benefit from having crystal clear, interruption-free Vonage calls.

It was the ability to work closely with the software vendors that appealed to Evolving Networks.  Commenting on the relationship, CTO Nic Elliott said, “One of our key differentiators is the fact that we write our own software, so are in complete control.  We are not a reseller of anyone else’s SD-WAN solution, and Vonage work in the same way”.

By forging a close relationship over the last couple of years Evolving Networks and Vonage bring their engineering teams together if any customers require any specific development.

Elliott continued “We have a number of mutual customers in place, so we have already ensured our two products integrate seamlessly, but our software developers having direct access to the Vonage development team means that any bespoke dev work needed can be quickly and efficiently designed and delivered, dev team to dev team, with no third parties muddying the water”.

Evolving Networks customers will be contacted by their Account Manager in the coming weeks to discuss the partnership with Vonage, and how their business might benefit from the close integration of leading VoIP technology with their internet connection.

With the ISDN switch off looming, businesses need a plan for how they are going to migrate to new digital services.  Those who have already taken the step to implement a Software-Defined Networking solution such as provided by Evolving Networks are in a great place to be able to take on the move to cloud-based services like VoIP.

Why go to the bother of creating eView Live

When we started delivering resilient connectivity over a decade ago it was unusual.  There were not many doing it, and the ones that were made a very bad job of it.

None of our original “competitors” are still standing!

One of the ways in which we set out to be different was giving our customers visibility of the state of their internet connection in real time, via an online portal.

Let’s be honest, this was not just a “nice to have” – we considered it vital.  As a business that started with a small number of passionate technologists, growing organically, frankly it was vital.

It’s not that we didn’t want to talk to our customers, but minimising support calls is wise in anyone’s book.

If a constituent line in a resilient solution suffers a fault there are two scenarios that can play out – even if the solution works perfectly by keeping the customer online whilst the issue is fixed.

Scenario A

Customer phones up and says, “is my connection working ok?” and we say “it’s proving its resilience and keeping you online, but there is a fault with line 1, we’re working on it”.

The above would actually be a pretty acceptable position for the majority of ISPs (and their customers, you would think!) but it leads to a number of understandable follow up questions:

“When did this happen?”

“Were you REALLY aware?”

“Why didn’t you tell me, why wait for me to phone you?”

Isn’t the below better…?

Scenario B

The same customer gets an automated email saying “one of the constituent lines in your resilient internet connection has a fault, we’re on the case and fixing it, we’ll keep you updated”.

We think it’s a no-brainer.  In scenario B the customer is proactively informed and has that warm fuzzy feeling that we are on the case.

In both instances the customer’s connection never dropped, but by being open, honest and proactive, we’ve changed the mindset entirely.

Our ethos of keeping our customers informed, proactively, of everything we could became the genesis of eView Live.  What started as a system to alert customers to faults (and stop them calling in) has now had the benefit of a decade of development morphing into the most complete monitoring and analysis system in the market.

Its actually difficult to define exactly what eView Live is now.  Yes, it is still the portal through which customers can view their multipath ethernet solution, giving real-time throughput values, as well as vital statistics and detailed historical analysis.

But eView Live is so much more than that.  Every connected node on our network – every modem, every EVX on every customer site, and every core EVX router – is sending a constant stream of telemetry to a suite of servers outside of our network, where all this data is crunched, sliced, diced and analysed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

This stream of network information is then used to direct our systems and effect network improvements on the fly.

If a carrier partner starts to experience a network issue we know within a matter of seconds, because our network of networks alerts us automatically.  A stream of telemetry from modems experiencing increased latency is translated into meaningful actions by our AI engine.

In this example, where one carrier in our Multi-VNO network experiences increased latency, the problem need only manifest itself on a small percentage of lines for our AI systems to identify the common factor and balance traffic away from that network.  Instructions are sent to EVX appliances everywhere whilst alerting our human engineers to the issues in hand.

Crowd sourcing our network intelligence in this way means that customers with lines NOT YET affected by the issue are saved from experiencing reduced performance because the decision to rebalance traffic has been taken at a higher network level, not by the EVX itself.

The heavy lifting and decision making of network level event prevention is done elsewhere, meaning the EVX can do what it does best – run our Intelligent Network Fabric software.

eView Live then: a customer portal, AI suite, monitoring ecosystem and key component of the most advanced internet & SD-WAN delivery mechanism in the UK.

We’ve made a nice infographic about it but speak to us to find out more.  If you rely on your connectivity, then rely on Evolving Networks and eView Live.

Buzzwords… or actual SD-WANs, which would you prefer?

SD-WAN has a lot of hype surrounding it.  In fact Gartner have a term for the part of the “hype cycle” we might be about to go into with SD-WAN and its encouragingly called “The Trough of Disillusionment”.

I get exactly that feeling when reading through new product announcements from well established network players, as they add SD-WAN to their portfolio.

All they do is spout buzzwords and technobabble.

Now I’m sure we can be a bit guilty of doing that too, but as we’ve embraced the term SD-WAN (like it or loath it, the term is here to stay), we have tried to write content that is as explanatory as possible.

We’ve tried to keep things simple, even when there is a vast amount of technology in the background.

When you spend the time decoding the announcements, you see something surprising.  Hardly anyone is doing SD-WAN yet at all.

Sure, they like to talk about it, but where are the case studies and concrete customer examples?  Where are the real-world problems solved?

Many of the “new” announcements we’ve seen over recent months have been for little more than basic load balanced or traditional leased lines and MPLS / DSL failover systems with a firewall on the end.  This isn’t SD-WAN in any meaningful sense.

And that’s why hardly anyone is buying those products.

So instead of joining the pack and reeling off the buzzwords, we’re going to continue to run against the pack for 2019.  We’re going to talk about actual SD-WANs.

We’re going to talk about actual examples of managed network installations where customers of ours have saved money and improved the experience of their users.

Installations where real business problems have been solved, with the creative use of software and connectivity.

Internet connections delivering IT Managers the ability to relax and know their VoIP calls are protected from spikes in usage.

While other providers will announce tie-ups with US software suppliers without any customers, we will announce customer victories running our UK software.

Which would you prefer?  Actual experience, or buzzword bingo from the next company looking to jump on the bandwagon?

Our Customers