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FAQ

How is our Enterprise WAN secured with SmartConnect?

SmartConnect uses similar technologies used to provide Virtual Private Networks, used to secure communication between two points through the Internet. The difference is, that it works on a larger scale, much more dynamic and in a multi-peer mode.

However, SmartConnect is using strong encryption standards and methods to secure the traffic at any point. This makes SmartConnect at least as secure than VPN but certainly more secure than MPLS or other leased lines, what are unencrypted by default.

What means Internet Service Provider independent?

While business requirements changes in short terms, provider dependent solutions, such as MPLS and leased lines are long term and slow in adapting technology changes. This results in inflexibility and unnecessary costs to Enterprise WAN Architectures. SmartConnect is an provider independent solution, means that it does not dictate from what or how many different providers you are using services to carry your data. Another outcome is that SmartConnect can be deployed much faster than traditional ISP offerings. This makes SmartConnect useful for temporary locations or within fast changing businesses environments as well.

What is the difference between ISP Management and Managed WAN Access?

Since SmartConnect bases on Internet as WAN, one or more Internet Access Lines, provided by local Internet Service Providers is required. Therefore a direct access to this providers is essential. But we don’t want to dictate our customers the local service provider. Instead we offer two service options:

Local ISP Management: We manage the existing local Internet Access as technical contact on behalf of our customers and directly manage any provider related issue directly.

Managed WAN Access: Bollwerk Group provides the local Internet Access as part of the SmartConnect Service Subscription. There are some benefits from this service:

  • Our customer profits from wholesale conditions for local Internet Access
  • Various type of Internet, including xDSL, Optical, Cable, Wireless, Cellular and Satellite
  • Quality warranty (T1/T2)
  • We have directly access to the local Internet Access Routers on the location what helps us to more quick detect and response any problem

 

 

What is Application Based Routing?

Application based Routing is part of the Dynamic Routing Technology used by SmartConnect and allows to determine the typ of application a particular IP frame belongs to (i.e. web traffic, VoiP or to an ERP system) and send it to a preferred routing path to it’s destination. There are many examples how this features is used by SmartConnect. One of the most important is to separate channels for real-time applications (i.e. VoIP) from low-sensitive applications (i.e. eMail).

Is SmartConnect traffic more secure than MPLS?

One of the advantages of SmartConnect is, that it is encrypted by default. MPLS is not. That’s why security-sensitive companies like financial institutes or governmental institutions only sent encrypted traffic through MPLS or using encryption add-ons offered by providers.

SmartConnect is 30-75% more cost-effective than MPLS, why ?

In fact, SmartConnect implementation in average are between 30% and 75% off the pricings of legacy MPLS services. There are several reasons, for this huge difference:

  • SmartConnect uses the Internet as WAN. The Internet is available virtually everywhere at relatively low cost. This enables our customer to have more available bandwidth at lower cost – or as we say: More bits for your bucks.
  • While MPLS is a classical All-Size-fits-all solution, SmartConnect is much more scalable to the appropriate requirements of Performance and Availability. This means you pay only for services you need. This even counts for Hybrid WAN scenarios (mixing MPLS and WAN), when you can reduce expensive MPLS bandwidth (reserved for a few critical applications) and use low-cost access for the high volumes of internet/cloud applications and other traffic.
  • Another major factor is that MPLS pricings depends on geographical distance. Domestic MPLS is much more less expensive than an MPLS to a remote site on another continent. SmartConnect pricing depends not on distance but on local pricings of WAN access and the scalable features you need on a location.

But SmartConnect is not just more cost efficient – it is also much faster deployed. And – in contrary to MPLS it is highly encrypted by default.

What is the FIPS Standard?

Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) are publicly announced standards developed by the United States federal government for use in computer systems by non-military government agencies and government contractors.

FIPS standards are issued to establish requirements for various purposes such as ensuring computer security and interoperability, and are intended for cases in which suitable industry standards do not already exist. Many FIPS specifications are modified versions of standards used in the technical communities, such as the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

What is the SmartConnect Worldwide Carrier Network (WCN)?

SmartConnect uses a Worldwide Carrier Network to provide local access to multiple network services. This includes Regional Access Nodes to provide low latency real-time applications and a GGSN network to provide local wireless communication through celluar- and satellite networks.

Do I have to change my Internet Service Provider with SmartConnect?

No. One of the great benefits of SmartConnect is, it is a Service Provider Independent solution. This means that SmartConnect works with any type of Internet Access. SmartConnect also supports any combination of multiple internet access, LTE fail-over and WAN Hybrid (WAN combined with MPLS).

However, since local ISP Management in off-shore countries is a time consuming task and it is often difficult to get the best cost-performance offering – we provide local internet lines of various types a cross the globe. Our customer benefits from great conditions and better support with our Local WAN offerings.

Does SmartConnect use it’s own Hardware?

No we don’t. SmartConnect is based on industry standard hardware. In most standard scenarios SmartConnect relay on Cisco ISR series hardware. And there are some good reasons why our customer benefits from this:

  • Cisco is the global market leader in Routing/Switching Technologies and has the longest track record in Network Virtualisation, while others just started to think about it.
  • Cisco is global Market Leader in WAN optimisation
  • The strong modular approach provides high scalability in almost any industry scenario.
  • FIPS Certified
What is Software Defined Networking or SDN?

Many people have different definitions of SDN. Probably because SDN is evolving as the technology matures and solutions are introduced. In general, SDN most commonly means that networks are controlled by software applications and SDN controllers rather than the traditional network management consoles and commands that required a lot of administrative overhead and could be tedious to manage on a large scale. Initially, there was a great deal of enthusiasm around SDN simply because software‐based control was much more flexible than the old, rigid management consoles and command line interfaces (CLI).

This capability to control networks through software quickly led to the realization that many complex IT tasks that had to be implemented through clunky management tools could now be automated and done much more efficiently. Speed and automation are key requirements for emerging cloud and multitenant networks that need more scale and can’t be bogged down with tedious administrative tasks. In fact, cloud automation (in its many forms) quickly emerged as a primary use case for SDN technology. Today, many SDN solutions are really platforms for hosting cloud automation solutions. When SDN first appeared on the technology landscape, there were more rigid ideas of how SDN architectures should be designed and what defined an SDN solution. Today, customers take a broader view of what kind of SDN solution is right for them. As the primary use case for SDN has evolved toward cloud automation, customers consider what they’re looking for in a policy‐based automation solution instead of just the specifics of the underlying SDN technology.

SDN is also truly an open technology. This leads to greater interoperability, more innovation, and more flexible, cost‐ effective solutions. If a network is compliant with the right SDN standards, it could be controlled by multiple SDN controller applications. This is better than each network platform having its own management console and commands that increase vendor lock‐in and make network management even more complex. Today, multiple SDN standards are evolving in different areas, and successful SDN strategies will always be based on open, interoperable multivendor ecosystems with key open source technologies or standardized protocols. Along with the evolution to SDN, there are a number of technology trends that are affecting the architecture and design of modern data center and enterprise networks that have to be factored into SDN technology requirements. In most organizations, the data center is shifting away from traditional client‐ server architectures to models in which significantly more data is being transferred between servers within the data center (frequently called east‐west traffic). This requires more network scalability and more sophisticated policies for resource allocation. In addition, many IT departments are showing great interest in moving to public, private, or hybrid cloud environments.

Public cloud services from companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Google have given corporate IT departments a glimpse of self‐service IT and demonstrate how agile applications and services can be. Organizations are now demanding the same service levels from their own IT departments. SDN, in fact, is being looked at as a key contributor to increasing IT agility and improving self‐service IT offerings. Enterprises are also investing in big data applications to facilitate better business decision making. These types of applications require massive parallel processing across hundreds or thousands of servers. The demand to handle huge data sets is placing greater stress on the network and driving the need for greater capacity and automation. All of these elements play a significant role in the demand for more efficient, agile, and higher performing corporate network environments. SDN is intended to meet those demands. The top level benefits of an SDN strategy accrue to all areas of the organization. You will receive a competitive advantage because your infrastructure will do more. The speed of your business will increase, the total cost of ownership will go down and your risks will be decreased because of the greater security.

What is Site To Site VPN?

VPNs are computer networks which are “virtual” in that they are layered on top of a physical network. The VPN’s network data is separated from that of the Internet as a whole, making for a private pipeline that travels through the Internet within the VPN.

A VPN uses the Internet or some other shared public telecom infrastructure to provide remote offices and their users with a secure network. Though a shared infrastructure is involved, VPNs use tunneling protocols to create secure connections. For example, think of the Internet as if it were a giant tunnel. When using the Internet, all traffic goes through this tunnel. Now imagine a company wanting to have its own pipeline inside this tunnel. By creating a VPN, the company can still use the Internet; however, its private data is routed through its own private pipe. Thus, a virtual private network is created within the larger tunnel. From a technical perspective, this involves tunneling the lower Internet Protocol (IP) layers through the transport network layer.

What is MPLS?

Multi Protocol Label Switching is not a computer network. Rather, it’s a standards-based technology that is used to move network packets traffic from one node to another – over different protocols such as Internet Protocol, frame relay, or Asynchronous Transport Mode (ATM). It is a protocol-independent mechanism that directs and carries data from one network node to the next. MPLS labels data packets, which eliminates the need to determine what’s inside each packet and enables a more efficient means of transmitting data. Rather than looking at packets individually and then making forwarding decisions, MPLS labels are used to make the forwarding decisions. Layer 3 analysis takes place just once with label inspection then kicking in to drive forwarding. With MPLS labeling, users are no longer dependent on specific technologies and protocols.

Also called the “Layer 2.5 protocol,” MPLS works at the OSI Model layer. This layer is found between Layer 2 and Layer 3 (the Data Link Layer and the Network Layer respectively). MPLS is a versatile mechanism that carries data and numerous types of traffic.

What is a MPLS VPN?

Though they are distinct technologies, the terms MPLS and VPN are often used interchangeably or together. Part of the confusion stems from the term MPLS VPN which refers to a virtual private network that is built on top of a multiprotocol label switching network. MPLS VPNs are typically provided to an enterprise from a third party provider to create a secure connection between branch offices.

Though one is a computer network and the other is a mechanism, VPNs and MPLS can work together to create a private virtual network that is extremely efficient at labeling and delivering network packets.

See this Video, explaining the features of MPLS

Using Internet As WAN

Many companies have made their experiences with Internet based WAN solutions in the past, mostly IPSec Site-to-Site VPN. Especially on long distances this technology can became unreliable or even unusable. In consequence high investments in WAN optimizing solutions or Accelleration Services were necessary to reach a reasonably link quality.

According to Nemertes Research Benchmark, nearly half of businesses are migrating or are planning to migrate their WAN to the Internet. Why? As bandwidth demands have increased, the Internet has become a much more stable platform, and the price-to-performance gains are very attractive. Until today, companies are primarily deploying “Internet as WAN” in their smaller sites or as a backup path because of the risks.

The concept of SmartConnect allows the first time to take advantage of this costeffective, performance-enhancing opportunity to all your branch offices. The reason for that is simple

  • SmartConnect uses integrated WAN optimization features on application level, improving the end to end traffic performance
  • SmartConnect Global Bus is a worldwide distributed carrier network. Using this network to transport the traffic from remote locations, allows to reduce delays almost on MPLS level
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