Level 3 May Have Broken the Internet, but it was Business-as-Usual for SD-WAN Users

By Michael Wood
Vice President of Marketing, VeloCloud
November 15, 2017

Losing Internet connectivity can easily debilitate a business, but imagine if that downed connectivity spans entire geographic areas. Retail organizations lose the ability to transact. Corporations are unable to send emails or make VoIP calls. Cloud-dependent applications can not be accessed. For the period of time that the Internet is down, everything comes to a screeching halt and the financial impact to the business increases. 


On November 6, Level 3, an enterprise ISP backbone used by Internet providers such as AT&T, Comcast, RCN, and Verizon, was offline for 90 minutes. This caused panic and impacted individual and business’ livelihood, all because of a simple human-made misconfiguration error.

But this was an easily avoidable situation and for those businesses using providers that utilized SD-WAN, it was a non-issue. In fact, many users on VeloCloud Cloud-Delivered SD-WAN didn’t even know that a widespread outage had occurred until they read about it the next day in the news.

Why? Simple: VeloCloud Dynamic Multipath Optimization.

DMPO Saves The Day

Utilizing VeloCloud Dynamic Multipath Optimization (DMPO), all transport links are monitored on a continuous basis and when issues arise, traffic is steered proactively, dynamically and automatically on a sub-second basis to an alternative transport path(s). This is how VeloCloud DMPO and VeloCloud Outcome-Driven Network were able to save the day for customers using SD-WAN on the day Level 3 experienced its outage.

DMPO performs continuous, bi-directional measurements of true throughput and performance metrics – loss, latency and jitter of packets on every tunnel between VeloCloud Edges to one another or to VeloCloud Gateways. VeloCloud’s sub-second steering allows independent decisions in both uplink and downlink directions without introducing any asymmetric routing to avoid impacts from brownout or blackout conditions.

VeloCloud’s partners and customers using DMPO felt no impact and carried on, business-as-usual as applications and traffic were proactively steered over alternative links in the branch and cloud.

VeloCloud Orchestrator Peers Inside

The VeloCloud Orchestrator is the central point of management, control, visibility, and analytics for all connected VeloCloud Edges, VeloCloud Gateways, transport connections, applications, and network devices. With the VeloCloud Orchestrator, users are able to see all network activity and proactively manage it. In addition, the intelligence built-in to every part of the VeloCloud solution immediately and on a sub-second basis is able to identify and take corrective action to make sure that impacts to the network are mitigated.

Let’s take a look at the impact of the Level 3 outage on VeloCloud Cloud-Delivered SD-WAN customers, using two examples.

In this Quality of Experience (QoE) screenshot, the customer has dual Comcast links and a single Verizon LTE link in active mode. Both Comcast and Verizon were using Level 3 as their ISP backbone. We can clearly see the degradation that the Level 3 outage had on connectivity, highlighted by the yellow and red bands which represent impairments such as packet loss and jitter. The red band indicates that during this period of time this link is unacceptable for passing business critical application traffic without significant remediation.  Across all three connections the average quality score never surpasses 8.0 (on a scale of 10) and there were significant durations of time when there was no connectivity or very bad connectivity. With SD-WAN, the score exceeds 9.5 and the impact of the outages are eliminated or reduced significantly using VeloCloud DMPO.


In the next example, the customer is using a broadband cable internet link and a DSL link. It is clear that Comcast cable link is relying on Level 3 as its ISP backbone, but AT&T was using an alternate here although Level 3 is also a vendor. VeloCloud SD-WAN detects the outage on the cable link and steers traffic to the AT&T link without the loss of connections, calls, sessions or flows.  What is more impressive is that VeloCloud DMPO elevates the excellent AT&T quality score from 9.63 to a nearly perfect 9.94 by proactively remediating the residual network impairments occurring over that link.


In short, VeloCloud Cloud-Delivered SD-WAN saves the day. Ensuring connectivity at all times and being able to proactively and intelligently mitigate any potential errors is a key tenet of the technology.

But Don’t Just Take Our Word For It

The positive feedback from VeloCloud partners and customers on how VeloCloud SD-WAN was able to keep them on-line during this outage has been loud and continuous. But don’t just take our word for it.

Logo_CDKCDK Global, a VeloCloud partner and provider of IT services and digital marketing solutions, was able to deliver to its SD-WAN customers an exceptional user experience. To find out how they fared during the Level 3 outage, read this case study.

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