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Cisco’s Intelligent WAN Solution Delivers High-Quality Branch Connectivity with Internet Service Pricing



By Michael Kennedy
Principal Analyst, ACG Research

The Cisco Intelligent WAN solution provides highly reliable WAN service to branches while reducing monthly charges by 34 to 81 percent.

With applications moving to the cloud, the Internet Edge migrating to the branch, increasing mobility adoption and proliferating use of bandwidth-intensive video applications, IT departments, many working with flat or decreased budgets, are scrambling to meet new branch networking requirements. With WAN bandwidth needs expanding and customers relying on networking to support their business-critical applications, companies cannot compromise on availability and quality of experience and must ensure strong network visibility, monitoring and control.

The typical branch WAN, today, employs premium-priced WAN connectivity to connect each branch to the corporate data center. Private packet services are delivered as Multiprotocol Label Switching Virtual Private Network (MPLS VPN) service. The service has broad acceptance because the underlying TDM/PDH transport service is widely available and reliable. On the downside it is very expensive. Additionally, business Internet services have changed radically since network architects adopted the premium-priced WAN connectivity model for the branch WAN. Initially, the premise for employing premium-priced WAN connection services in building branch WANs was that public Internet services lacked the reliability required to support business networking requirements. That is no longer the case and, today, Internet service reliability is approaching that of premium-priced WAN services.

To address these issues Cisco has introduced a new approach to branch networking called Intelligent WAN (IWAN). What IWAN does is make it feasible to substitute low-priced Internet services for high-priced premium WAN services by employing dual transport paths between the branch and the corporate data center, a Cisco integrated service router at the branch and dual Cisco routers at the data center. The solution features transport independence, secure connectivity, intelligent path control, and application optimization to improve the availability, quality, and security of the WAN while reducing its cost.

Four use cases that substitute cost-efficient Internet services for high-cost MPLS VPN services illustrate the cost savings associated with IWAN. These scenarios include a range of implementation strategies from partial to full substitution of Internet for MPLS VPN services and demonstrate the trade-offs between business Internet and business broadband Internet services. All cases are for a network consisting of 100 branches and one data center hub site. A cost comparison is made for the branch transport services. Return on investment (three-year computation) and payback are computed to compare the cost of the initial investment in ISR-AX branch routers with the savings in monthly service charges. The investment includes the cost of the routers, installation, and service.


Cisco IWAN addresses today’s branch networking issues by easily meeting bandwidth requirements, increasing network availability and quality expectations, strengthening network visibility and control capabilities and most importantly, by meeting security and policy compliance requirements while reducing costs significantly. (available to download)

For in-depth discussion of the four case studies see Business Case for Cisco Intelligent WAN (Available to Download)

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