The network of the future is a software-centric approach that moves networking functions from specialized hardware to cloud-based software. SD-WAN explained as a drive for major trends that help businesses extract full network value.
SD-WAN uses real-time performance telemetry to intelligently steer traffic and automate network optimization, improving application performance. It also saves costs using low-cost Internet connections rather than more expensive MPLS circuits.
As enterprises adopt digital strategies, they are moving their business tools and applications to a multi-cloud environment that includes public and private cloud platforms and software-as-a-service (SaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) solutions. This creates an explosion of WAN traffic that strains traditional networks designed for a different era. These networks are often unable to handle the increased volume of network traffic, leading to management complexity and application performance uncertainty and vulnerability.
SD-WAN enables organizations to improve the scalability of their networks by decoupling the logical topology from the physical infrastructure. It combines an overlay network with an underlay network of cost-effective internet connections and virtual private networks (VPNs) to reduce reliance on expensive leased lines while maintaining the required performance, security, and reliability.
This allows for the centralized management of these networks from one dashboard rather than device-by-device configuration and troubleshooting. Additionally, SD-WAN can prioritize and route traffic based on application needs, improving data transfer speeds and ensuring the availability of mission-critical applications. This can be especially useful for businesses with remote employees or customers with demanding data requirements. It can also provide more reliable and robust connectivity when a transport outage occurs by leveraging multiple links to ensure that traffic is never lost. SD-WAN can automatically move traffic from one link to another in less than a second so that business continues without interruption.
One of the most critical needs of an enterprise is to provide users with uninterrupted access to business applications, services, and resources. This is especially important when employees work remotely or on the go, away from the office or data center.
SD-WAN delivers on this requirement by providing reliability and speed to WAN connections. Instead of using expensive MPLS or leased lines, SD-WANs use cost-effective internet connections to support WAN connectivity. Additionally, a centralized controller monitors and optimizes the overlay and underlay network in real time. This ensures mission-critical applications get the bandwidth they need, even during peak times.
This flexibility also enables organizations to connect directly to the cloud via VPNs or the public internet, lowering costs and improving performance. This may also be more secure as it reduces the likelihood of third-party data intercepting.
SD-WANs also have better security than traditional WANs by encrypting data in transit and dynamically routing traffic across multiple types of connections. This prevents hackers from intercepting or disrupting service. Finally, SD-WANs allow businesses to add new sites quickly and easily by deploying software rather than hardware. This also simplifies management and troubleshooting because it eliminates device-by-device configuration, which is error-prone. Moreover, correlating SD-WAN telemetry with network flow data from tools like Kentik makes it easy for enterprises to get visibility into SD-WAN performance.
SD-WAN re-configures routing to prioritize application performance, improve reliability, and eliminate costly backhauling. It also improves WAN security by applying microsegmentation across the network, limiting access to devices and applications based on job functions (i.e., a store manager requiring access to timecards).
SD-WAN replaces traditional MPLS networks with a more modern software-defined architecture. It moves control and management from edge routers to a central controller, which evaluates real-time traffic paths and routes data over the most efficient route. This optimizes bandwidth utilization and reduces costs by avoiding over-utilizing expensive networking services like MPLS.
In addition, SD-WAN enables enterprises to use multiple types of connectivity, such as broadband and LTE. This flexibility creates built-in redundancies that prevent single points of failure and enable high-availability configurations. It also enables the deployment of 5G connections, which deliver higher throughput and lower latency than 4G wireless options.
Whether it’s an inventory application, a video conference, or a remote employee, reliable connections are critical for business productivity. A single point of failure can have devastating consequences for businesses. Thankfully, with SD-WAN, businesses can proactively divert traffic when problems arise. SD-WAN also uses dynamic load balancing to increase network bandwidth by combining connections and creating a virtual link that offers a more resilient connection. This helps prevent bottlenecks and provides a seamless on-ramp to the cloud.
Modern businesses must securely connect workers across multiple sites, whether at home, at work, or in the cloud. These remote employees require access to applications, data and services hosted in public clouds or private enterprise data centers. Traditionally, these applications were backhauled to corporate headquarters over expensive leased lines. This caused significant latency and impacted application performance. Using SD-WAN, these applications can be accessed over more cost-effective connections such as the internet or 4G LTE wireless circuits.
An SD-WAN uses software to route traffic based on pre-defined policies automatically. This means there’s no need to manually configure routers at each location, which helps reduce deployment times and improve IT productivity. These SD-WAN devices can also self-learn, allowing them to adapt to changes and conditions that might impact application performance in real time.
A centralized controller manages an SD-WAN, sending policy information to the network edge hardware. The device, called customer premises equipment or CPE, determines how to handle WAN traffic by determining the best path between two sites. This can be a combination of an MPLS VPN connection, broadband internet, cellular, or another service. SD-WANs can also support zero-touch provisioning, which enables IT teams to define and deploy the CPE with their configuration remotely. These devices can also support more sophisticated capabilities such as path optimization and security integration — all of which help to simplify further, automate, and speed up deployment.