Juice Up Your Enterprise Network with Encrypted Optical Links
The top areas driving traffic growth in enterprise networks are data storage/backup, collaboration tools, office software applications, and data center consolidation, according to an IHS Markit survey (Wide Area Networking Strategies: North American Enterprise Survey, Feb-2017). That data storage/backup heads the list is not surprising since software, automation, and the rise of IoT are all conspiring to create more and more data. Since this corporate data is the lifeblood of your business, you need to invest in storing it, making it accessible, and backing it up.
This is leading to enterprise network architectures that use dedicated point-to-point optical links to supplement conventional WAN implementations based on leased lines, VPNs, and public networks. There are numerous benefits to a private optical network.
- Complete control – You have total control over the infrastructure without dependence on third parties.
- Unlimited bandwidth – Optical links can handle easily whatever traffic you throw at them. They can consolidate any mix of data, voice, and video services.
- Fast response time – Optical links have the lowest latency of any network type. This is particularly important for disk mirroring between data centers, or for productivity when applications, like Office 365, are running at a remote data center.
- High reliability – Redundancy can be added, as needed, through multiple optical routes, or with backups, using public facilities.
- Easy management – All optical networks today come with tools for managing configurations and monitoring from a centralized location.
- Fast ROI – Modern optical networks are highly economical and typically pay back within 24 months when compared with leased line solutions
The figure shows a typical implementation. A primary data center hosts a private cloud for the enterprise’s software applications and associated data. These are accessed through dedicated optical links from the HQ and manufacturing locations, where high traffic volume warrants this, and through the WAN from all other locations. In addition, data is continuously backed up from the primary data center to a secondary data center. This synchronization is the sweetest spot for optical links, and often uses storage area networking (SAN) protocols like Fibre Channel. The secondary data center is usually located tens of kilometers away from the primary one to protect from a common disaster, and can also be accessed over the WAN in case the primary data center is unavailable.
So, you are convinced and have decided to use optical links as part of your enterprise networking mix. You now need to make one additional decision – do you protect those links with optical encryption? There are several reasons why the answer should be yes!
Only optical encryption can protect the data flowing over optical fibers from snooping via fiber tapping, which by the way is pretty easy to do. Even if you use encryption methods at higher layers, the addressing information is still exposed. This means that intercepted optical flows can reveal your network architecture and communications patterns, as well of course any data that is not protected by other encryption methods.
Moreover, optical encryption has no performance penalty. It operates at wire speed, without adding any overhead or delay. In the same way that you use multiple layers of security in your home or business, optical encryption should be the foundation for protecting your enterprise communications. It provides additional comfort to your customers that you are keeping their information safe, and assists in complying with government regulations and industry standards.
In summary, optically encrypted point-to-point links can juice up your enterprise network with considerable performance, cost and security benefits. Don’t think of this as an either-or capability compared against a current WAN of leased lines, VPNs, and public network. Think of deploying encrypted optical links as complementary approach, which is particularly useful and economical in serving your heavier data networking, storage, and backup needs..