SD-WAN provides secure connectivity over any internet connection to your network, data centers, and multiple clouds. This enables business-driven agility and lowers costs.
Unlike traditional WAN architectures with a jumble of single-function proprietary hardware appliances, an SD-WAN decouples the control function from network hardware. This simplifies configuration, deployment, and management.
What is SD-WAN?
SD-WAN is a network architecture that brings software-based solutions to traditionally hardware-based systems used in branch offices to improve uptime, security, and agility. Rather than relying on traditional routers to connect remote users to cloud applications hosted in data centers, SD-WAN uses a virtualized approach to provide businesses with the flexibility to connect to the internet using multiple connectivity types (MPLS, broadband, wireless) and a centrally managed console.
Previously, conventional routers returned traffic created in branches to a hub or centralized network security point for inspection. However, this caused performance delays that hindered employee productivity and business agility. SD-WAN uses a single software interface to define where and how traffic should be routed. This enables businesses to egress traffic over local internet breakout, instead of backhauling it across the WAN connection, for improved application performance and cost-effectiveness.
So, what is sd-wan used for? A successful Secure SD-WAN implementation should address five elements: Work-from-anywhere (WFA), Dynamic scalability, Cloud performance, Edge security, and Branch support. SD-WAN also provides application awareness, which enables the technology to automatically configure routing and bandwidth based on each business application’s needs and priorities. This reduces the need to manually configure and update routing tables, improving uptime and security while ensuring applications are always available. The technology can even encrypt all communications across the internet to ensure that only those who are intended to receive the data have access to it, preventing data theft and other cybersecurity threats. Finally, it offers centralized management, allowing IT departments to deploy new services and policies for branch locations in minutes, not weeks or months.
What are the Benefits of SD-WAN?
Aside from cost savings, SD-WAN allows businesses to connect to the Cloud confidently and quickly. With a centralized, software-delivered approach, new connections are set up quickly, and the network can be easily adjusted to meet changing operational needs.
This flexibility is made possible by separating applications from the underlying network through a virtual overlay. This overlay then monitors the performance characteristics of the underlying network and selects the optimum network for each application based on configuration policies. It also enables link bonding, eliminating the trombone effect and improving last-mile performance.
Another benefit is the ability to optimize bandwidth use across the enterprise WAN. WAN optimization features such as application performance mapping, packet loss, latency monitoring, and accelerated application traffic help to ensure critical applications always have the capacity they need without slowing down non-critical networks.
Centralized management and zero-touch provisioning also make it easy for IT to respond to business needs quickly. Setting up a new branch or remote location online with SD-WAN can be done in minutes without local IT expertise.
Finally, a good SD-WAN solution includes built-in redundancy by enabling direct connectivity to the Cloud and Internet with 3G/4G/5G cellular, broadband Internet, or leased lines. This makes it easier to provide employees with multiple options for working remotely and to support disaster recovery efforts.
What are Real-World Examples of SD-WAN?
With SD-WAN, organizations can achieve better application performance, improved cloud access and connectivity, greater flexibility with low risk, and consistent security policies across the enterprise. This helps improve productivity and boosts business growth, enabling businesses to meet increasing demands for online services without sacrificing reliability.
Traditional network architecture relies on routers to direct traffic, but many rules must be written manually to define where and how data egress from each location in a branch network. This can be time-consuming and error-prone. An SD-WAN is configured through software rather than hardware, simplifying creating and deploying rules and policies in real time.
Central orchestration makes it easier to ensure that configurations and policies are deployed consistently across a network so any discrepancies or issues between locations are quickly identified and resolved. In addition, upgrades to the software are far more manageable than purchasing new hardware for the network, providing significant cost savings.
Network administrators can also prioritize critical applications for the organization’s operational success using an SD-WAN. The ability to prioritize critical and non-critical applications can significantly improve application performance and speed, significantly impacting staff productivity and increasing business agility. Using SD-WAN can also reduce the need for expensive MPLS connections by allowing the network to route traffic over less costly broadband Internet connections.
What are the Use Cases for SD-WAN?
Businesses need a network that can adapt to their operational requirements quickly. Because SD-WAN operates as a network overlay, it can be deployed and adjusted without affecting the underlay and with minimal impact on performance.
This is especially important for businesses that rely on latency-sensitive cloud applications to increase business productivity. Companies can connect to these applications on their private networks or with secure direct Internet connections using SD-WAN. SD-WAN can also help businesses reduce costs by offloading some traffic to public Internet connections, saving costly MPLS circuits for high-priority traffic.
Companies can also improve WAN resilience by deploying dual connectivity to critical sites with SD-WAN. This allows them to use inexpensive network services (like broadband Internet or mobile 4G) for most traffic and reserve more expensive MPLS circuits for low-priority applications. In addition, SD-WAN can provide centralized control of WAN policies, enabling application-based routing to optimize the quality of service for critical business applications.
Another significant benefit of SD-WAN is that it can dramatically simplify and speed up setting up Internet breakouts to remote/branch offices. With SD-WAN, administrators can create shadow appliances (virtual placeholders for physical devices) on the central management console and use zero-touch provisioning to automatically bring them online when plugged in at remote/branch offices.