Are you in China and cannot access to basic systems such email, data storage, CRM, etc.? That may be because your systems are located in your Europe HQ servers. So why cannot connect properly to your HQ servers?
The answer is always the same: Great Firewall of China. Ironic name used by international and Chinese media to refer Chinese government projects to regulate the internet in Mainland China.
Since a couple of years ago the Great Firewall of China is blocking VPN connections, which is the most common and “secure” way to connect offices to the headquarters.
So how to overcome this challenge?
Here some suggestions we are seeing implemented in China:
MPLS DEDICATED LINES
MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching) is a dedicated point to point connection between your office and the HQ. In simple terms, you can imagine MPLS as a cable that goes directly from your office to the HQ servers. This solution solves blocking challenges as you are not using the standard free internet anymore; besides, notice you can setup a VPN connection in order to keep encrypting your traffic between your China office and HQ servers.
The solution is mainly provided by Telecom operators such as Orange, Dutch Telecom, etc. I personally for China recommend SoftNet, we are already doing some projects with them and quite satisfied so far.
Example MPLS line connecting Beijing office with Headquarters office in Spain.
In simple terms WAN optimization means to accelerate your network traffic. To achieve this goal you need to purchase 2 devices; one for the HQ and the other one for your China office allowing both devices to accelerate the traffic between them. Riverbed is the brand I have seen more often used in offices implementing this kind of solution.
Notice here you are not avoiding the Great Firewall of China, hence your internet traffic will still be analyzed and filtered. But as this technology allows you to send much more traffic in less time (among other advantages) you won’t notice the blocking effects “as much as” not using Riverbed technology.
Example WAN optimization between Beijing office and Headquarters office in Spain.
Software-Defined Network Platform
Recently met for first time one company using this technology in China. In this case the service is provided by Aryaka, US based company which has set up their own global infrastructure in order to connect any part in the world. They even state are better than MPLS and WAN Optimization providers.. So far I haven’t worked with them, but after such statement and positive feedback I believe is worth to mention in this article so the reader can have other option to consider/check if interested.
Example software-defined network platform locations (source: Aryaka)
Finally, notice above solutions are not for small budgets. MPLS goes around 10,000 RMB/month meanwhile Riverbed devices goes around 100,000 RMB per device.
So if you are a SME with a reduced budget, don’t panic because leaving your IT systems in the headquarters is not the only solution for China. For instance you can:
- Bring or set up the systems within your office
- Bring or set up the systems into the cloud (careful here as some cloud solutions in China are starting to close)
- Start using new Hybrid-Cloud technologies.
In our next articles we will explain in more detail about these other options.