Internet testing results: why fixing the internet middle mile is essential for SD-WAN performance


It’s no secret that the public Internet is a quagmire of latency and packet loss problems. No wonder, many of clients are reluctant to trust Internet-based SD-WANs with VoIP and business-critical applications. After all, how can an SD-WAN running over Internet provide a predictable user experience if the underlying transport is so unpredictable?

To answer that question, SD-WAN Experts recently evaluated the performance and stability of long-distance Internet connections. Our goal: to determine the source of the Internet’s performance problems by measuring variability and latency in the last and middle miles.

What we found was by swapping out the Internet core for a managed middle mile makes an enormous difference. Case in point is Amazon. The latency and variation between our AWS workloads was significantly better across Amazon’s network than the public Internet (see figure). Why that’s the case and how we tested is explained below and in greater depth from this post on our site.

SD-WAN Experts

Fig. 1: Median results for latency and variation (standard deviation from median latency) for all paths between AWS instance on-net (AWS-AWS) and off-net across the Internet (Backbone-AWS). Note: lower is better.

The why and how we tested

If I was an old MPLS hand (which I am) clinging to my MPLS past (which I’m not) I might be inclined to dismiss our research from the outset. After all, if my MPLS performance declines what difference does it make where it happens in my service provider’s network? The service has a problem and either the provider fixes the problem, or I ultimately switch MPLS services.

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