SD-WAN below the equator: The South American case

Because while the region enjoys deep-rooted links of culture and language as you cross borders, the same can’t be said of its infrastructure. It can be harder to ship a product across Brazil than to another continent from Brazil. Some large towns have a single road or telecoms tunnel in and out; others may only be reachable by riverboat or mobile connections. (Which can be surprisingly solid.) For any enterprise rolling out SD-WAN, however, the biggest issue is in the gaps between local and regional: poor peering between POPs.

“It’s not about local internet provision—it’s about peering problems in and out of country.” –  says Salim Khouri, Director of Global Solutions Engineering at Expereo, during a webinar. Let’s see how Expereo helps its South American customers close those gaps—with an approach familiar to anyone in the region: building effective relationships.

Beautiful continent, less-than-beautiful peering

From Brazil’s forested mountains to Chile’s dry deserts, the lower half of the Americas combines bustling cities with vast rural areas. It’s a land of over 400m people, vibrant colors, and incredible landscapes. And internet access within local areas can be strong, with local ISPs providing excellent wired and wireless services to a media-hungry population.

But that’s precisely the problem. On the whole, South America’s ISPs concentrate on what consumers what: serving content, with disproportionate attention given to download speeds from local hubs.

Which means your rural processing plant may get great NetFlix to entertain its workers … but the office SD-WAN is throttled to the point of uselessness, because your local ISP isn’t peering effectively to the ISP your HQ across the country uses. You can’t run a business on streaming media. (Unless your business is streaming media.)

So while physical infrastructure can be sparse or limited in choice, it isn’t the whole problem. The real issue is logical infrastructure—the peering arrangements between telcos and ISPs that make overlays like SD-WAN feasible.

Great streaming media, low-quality SD-WAN

Of course, in a continent dominated by extractive industries like mining and forestry, the production facilities you want to connect are almost by default in remote locations. Which means the internet underlay for effective SD-WAN is rarely where it’s most needed. Worse still, the problem isn’t limited to peering within each country. Peering to neighbouring nations and beyond is hit-and-miss, too.

This matters hugely to enterprise-scale networking requirements. Because to commodity businesses like agriculture and mining, the cost equation is fundamental.

If connecting two locations—say, a mining center deep in the rainforest with a city on the coast—the difference between a T1 or MPLS and straightforward business broadband isn’t a cost factor of 2x, 5x, or even 10x. Connecting the two sites by business internet instead, as an underlay to your SD-WAN, can be fifty times as cost-effective … if you can make it work.

Making it work is the hard part.

So how does Expereo do it?

Relationship-building leads to better peering

The solution is just good business. Two local ISPs, in the mining town and the coastal city, may perform brilliantly in their local markets, because they have an incentive to do so: their customers are screaming for streaming media.

But without any great reason to peer efficiently to each other, they just … don’t.

Expereo’s solution? To put that incentive in place, by building relationships with local ISPs across the region and introducing them to new opportunities. One big business customer can be worth a thousand consumer accounts. By connecting those in-country experts to the needs of Expereo customers, peering capacity can improve dramatically.

Case in point: in a two-site example above from Brazil, the number of hops between sites went down from 7 to 2. Across a thousand miles of rainforest!

Take advantage of fine-grained local knowledge

So what’s needed is to build profitable relationships between interested parties. The good news: Expereo has built those relationships for you. Meaning your SD-WAN can enjoy MPLS-beating performance for a fraction of the cost, thanks to this fine-grained attention to detail going on quietly behind the scenes.

With over 20,000 endpoints under management worldwide—heading for 30,000 by end 2021—Expereo can tell you, from in-person groundwork and ongoing real-time monitoring, which ISPs have the strongest peering arrangements. And—by definition—which can provide the best underlay for your SD-WAN.

Not by coincidence, this is helpful when it’s time to scale. Building a relationship between two ISPs may work great for two sites, but what happens when you open a third? Chances are there’s a solution waiting for you. Ask about Expereo’s performance matrix that maps thousands of such relationships in hard numbers—information that lets you make those critical choices of local ISP and internet underlay.

Conclusion: Hola, SD-WAN!

A great SD-WAN overlay needs a great underlay. Expereo helps you make the right connections and decisions across the vast continent, no matter how remote or rural your locations or how far apart your hubs. And it scales—from two ISPs a few hundred miles apart, to a network of sites spanning the globe.

If you’re active in South America and finding T1 or MPLS doesn’t work for your business case, ask how Expereo delivers great connectivity for customers in the region. All thanks to an age-old human trait: building positive relationships.

Talk to an expert

With over 20 years’ experience as a technology professional, Salim is the Director of Solutions Engineering to support Expereo’s managed global network and cloud connectivity solutions. His expertise includes, but is not limited to Global Internet, SD-WAN, and Security.

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