Mesh networks and WAN in the cloud age

Mesh networks are networks where each unit is connect to each other in the network, unlike other network topologies like a hub-and-spoke. Mesh networks connect these “nodes” together directly, which gives mesh networks the benefits of resilience and fault tolerance. If one node or access point in a mesh network goes down, the network can re-route traffic through many other nodes.

In cloud computing, mesh networks can add benefits of flexibility, cost savings, and scalability. Cloud users can set up a mesh network on an ad-hoc basis by deploying network nodes as needed then scaling the network back down to match demand.

Developers can build meshed networks on top of a cloud providers’ global network to extend traditional networks to the cloud.

Cohesive Networks - basic network topologies

Meshed in the cloud: WAN for all

A global wide-area network (WAN) is a prime example of networking projects that were previously cost-prohibitive. A WAN is simply a network built to transmit data over long distances, between different networks, or different types of networks.

Traditionally, WANs were limited to large organizations that could afford the investments in equipment and long-term telecom service contracts. The process for setting up a WAN required either investing in new data center locations or signing long-term contracts with telecommunication carriers. To add more points of presences, new facilities or new contracts with providers.

Now, cloud providers have made the investment to provide state-of-the-art facilities, experienced staff, and fantastic equipment distributed across the globe. Essentially, anyone with a credit card can create a global mesh network on a project by project basis. Want to add a point of presence? Just configure and launch your resources in a new cloud region.

Cohesive Networks - public cloud locations worldwide

Traditional WANs required hardware vendors, installation, server racks, equipment, staff, and miles of networking cables. Leased lines are a less capital-intensive option, but it still requires teleco carrier vendors, long sales cycles and long-term locked-in contracts.

Federated resources between cloud deployments is only a few clicks away. By building a meshed network from cloud providers’ networks, IT teams of any size can use cloud points of presence (POPs) to build a globally distributed WAN.

With Cloud WANs, developers can build on top of cloud-providers’ networking to extend traditional networks to the cloud. Plus using cloud networks lets you add security such as encryption, IPsec connections, VPNs into the public cloud networks.

Build vs. Buy: Control your network destiny 

Why build a WAN when you can just peer 2 Azure VLANs or 2 Amazon VPCs together? Good question. Here are answers in the form of more questions:

  • What if you need to peer more than 2 VLANs/VPCs?
  • What if you need to connect VPN gateways to more than one network?
  • What if you need to connect public IPs to more than one remote endpoint?
  • What if you need to connect with partners and customers who want to use IPsec over NAT-T?
  • What if you need both native IPsec and NAT-T?
  • Can you monitor your network separate from the provider?
  • Can you add network reliability without performance sacrifices?

Hint: VNS3 and meshed overlay networks can help you do all these things

And to dredge up the recent past, the Amazon S3 problems last week caused connectivity and uptime issues for thousands. It turned out that VNS3 customers with overlay networks they built were not having issues with connectivity or uptime.

Real life cloud WAN: Sigma Móviles in AzureSigma Moviles logo

Sigma Móviles considered the costs of owning and managing Tier 1 infrastructure to connect to partners. They opted to use the Azure cloud and wanted software-only networking appliances to easily connect to partners with a variety of devices.

Sigma Móviles is a software development and tech services company that develops mobile applications for iOS and Android. They are also a premium
SMS provider for Claro telecommunications in Peru.

Sigma Móviles uses Microsoft Azure to host and connect their mobile application development services around the world. With help from VNS3, Sigma Móviles can connect virtual machines (VMs) to their partners over VPN using secure, encrypted IPsec tunnels. Sigma Móviles estimates they save 40% on infrastructure costs.

Read the full Sigma Móviles use case here [PDF].

By: Margaret Valtierra