Enterprise WANs have long been a thorn in the heel of IT leaders. Adding capacity to the WAN is among the most expensive and complex processes a business IT team can try to tackle. At the same time, trends like cloud computing, big data and increased enterprise video consumption have come together to put more pressure on the WAN than ever. Enterprise content delivery network solutions are emerging to help organizations deal with new WAN challenges. ECDNs have the potential to revolutionize enterprise WAN optimization and acceleration strategies by unleashing the power of software-defined networking.

Before you cast ECDNs aside as little more than marketing hype, consider how they fit within the historical framework for how organizations have tried to resolve WAN-related challenges. In that context, ECDNs are an evolution of longstanding strategies made possible because of recent service delivery innovations surrounding virtualization.

QoS and MPLS focus on optimizing data moving through the network.

Getting the WAN in shape – MPLS and QoS set the foundation

Dealing with data bottlenecks in the network has long ben a major problem for IT teams, and solutions like multi-protocol label switching solutions that use Quality of Service principles built the foundation for network acceleration and optimization. While these solutions aren’t always used directly in the WAN – though telecoms have a reputation for relying heavily on QoS to support WAN customers – they are often used to aggregate data in parts of the network where data throughput problems arise. In many cases, the technology is used to get specific data types either to end users or out to external customers in an efficient way. QoS solutions build the foundation here, and MPLS is a variation on that model.

A quick look at QoS
QoS solutions are built around the simple idea of routing data through networks in the most efficient way possible. Network hardware featuring QoS functionality can prioritize different data types based on how the solution is programmed. For example, an organization having trouble achieving performance benchmarks getting video out to end users can use QoS to program the network to give video data packets a priority over other types of information moving through the network.

A quick look at MPLS
MPLS networks use similar concepts of QoS, but in a more nuanced fashion. It builds on the QoS idea of prioritizing different types of data. From that foundation, it allows all data moving through the MPLS network to move in packet form, and each packet is given specific prioritization parameters based on pre-set conditions.

There is a common thread in QoS and MPLS solutions and it highlights why ECDNs are so important. Both technologies do not add bandwidth to the network, they focus on optimizing data moving through the system.
Different colours as a blended whirl of light Getting data through the network is often easier through optimization, not just adding capacity.

ECDNs – an evolution of longstanding network principles

Content delivery networks have long operated as a prime solution for organizations trying to get a specific type of content out to an audience in an efficient way. Essentially, they give organizations a dedicated channel to move data and optimize performance. CDNs play a vital role, for example, in improving performance for data-rich websites. As businesses deliver more content to users through Web apps, particularly enterprise video portals, traditional CDN architectures aren’t always up to the task of supporting bandwidth requirements.

This is where emerging ECDN models come in. Like QoS and MPLS solutions, they redefine how the network works to optimize data pathways through infrastructure. ECDNs accomplish this through software-defined networking principles that add a layer of intelligence to network systems so information can move freely through infrastructure, maximizing hardware resources and eliminating the types of data bottlenecks that lead to performance deterioration. Enterprise video strategies are getting more robust all the time, and ECDNs give IT leaders the flexibility they need to keep up.