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ATC Lab Services Helps Mega-Scale Retailer Test SD-WAN Vendor Solutions

The Advanced Technology Center (ATC) Lab Services Team helped design, build and execute a proof of concept (POC) with a Mega-Scale Retailer that was interested in a global technology refresh of their retail stores and distribution outlets. The ATC Lab Services Team and Retailer evaluated SD-WAN solutions from four vendors against a standard test plan created in conjunction with the Retailer's priority use cases.

A Mega-Scale Retailer was looking to test out SD-WAN solutions to drive ROI from MPLS circuit savings with their ISPs. They were prevented from doing so, however, due to the time and costs associated with procuring and staging a test environment in addition to constraints on their IT staff. A proof of concept (POC) to compare leading SD-WAN vendors likely would have taken the customer 6-12 months to execute on their own.

The Retailer turned to WWT and the capabilities of the Advanced Technology Center (ATC) Lab Services Team to execute a POC that compared the features and functionality of SD-WAN solutions from four vendors to accelerate their decision-making process.

SD-WAN solutions from the targeted vendors needed to show how easily traffic could be recognized and segmented into business critical and non-business critical data. More importantly, the SD-WAN solution needed to be easily configurable for steering of this critical and non-critical data over MPLS connections and internet connections.

In addition to ATC Lab Services, WWT provided knowledge and maturity around the methodology and process of the lab program in the ATC to effectively manage vendors. The ATC Lab Services Team was viewed by the Retailer as a trusted advisor through each phase of the lab with the different SD-WAN vendor solutions.

Technical SD-WAN use cases tested in the ATC Lab:

  • Network brownout detection, reaction and mitigation
  • Ease of use in terms of installation of the solution in brownfield production environments
  • Day 2 support activities using an SD-WAN controller with the solution
  • Ability to recognize, mark or tag, prioritize, and steer traffic up and down specific tunnels based on a set of criteria
  • Integrate new SD-WAN technology solution with brownfield environments while establishing and maintaining 99.999 uptime in cutover scenarios
  • Compare each solution for abilities around hub and spoke vs. full mesh overlay SD-WAN fabrics

Specific SD-WAN test cases followed:

  • Build basic network overlay fabric - Hub and spoke compared to full mesh
  • Define standard applications recognized by the SD-WAN solution
  • Define a customer applications to be recognized by the SD-WAN solution
  • Build traffic rules for application paths across the overlay fabric
  • Failure test of multiple components and network links
  • SD-WAN operations
  • SD-WAN controller failure scenarios

Specific devices under test:

  • Versa - Analytics, Director and FlexVNF
  • Viptela - Vmanage, Vsmart, Vbond and Vedge
  • VeloCloud - Orchestrator, Gateway and Edge
  • Cisco – IWAN Master Controller and Border Routers

Testing tools used:

  • Ixia traffic generator for mimic of customer traffic in data centers and branches
  • Traffic jam impairment for delay, loss and jitter in the WAN
  • Virtual infrastructure for SD-WAN orchestrators for various vendors

ATC lab diagram