Enterprises deploying multi-cloud strategies require secure and reliable branch-office connectivity. Using SD-WAN, IT teams can backhaul traffic over more cost-effective internet connections rather than expensive MPLS circuits.
By providing end-to-end encryption and application performance monitoring, SD-WAN delivers higher speeds while reducing costs. Learn how.
Networking is a central feature of SD-WAN. It provides traffic steering and prioritization based on business policies while enabling varying bandwidth access to promote speed increments based on real-time demand. This increases application performance and reduces WAN costs through direct internet broadband connectivity. A typical SD-WAN solution combines virtual overlays, networking, and security capabilities into a single platform. These capabilities include load balancing, WAN optimization, and virtual private network (VPN) functionality. They also provide centralized management and support for cloud-based software as a service (SaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS).
SD-WAN improves application performance by routing traffic in a business-driven manner. This approach ensures resiliency, optimizes application-specific quality of service requirements and enhances productivity by improving connectivity and reducing jitter. It also supports cost reduction by allowing organizations to rely less on expensive MPLS circuits. It can send low-priority data over public internet connections and reserve private links for high-priority, latency-sensitive applications. Unlike traditional routers that backhaul traffic to a hub or central data center before being routed to remote locations, SD-WAN eliminates network delays and performance issues caused by packet loss and jitter. This enables workers to connect to the cloud and other sites without compromising performance, making it easier for IT teams to deploy appliances to small or home offices.
Security is a critical component of SD-WAN that enables it to deliver on the promise of simpler network connectivity and performance. Unlike MPLS connections, which are not secure or encrypted, SD-WAN tunnels provide robust encryption and security functions to protect data and devices at all points in the enterprise network. As SD-WAN explained, it allows you to prioritize traffic based on application needs, increasing the likelihood that business-critical applications will not be interrupted during a transport outage. It also reduces costs by allowing you to connect to cloud services over broadband internet instead of more expensive private circuits. Using a centralized controller, SD-WAN provides granular application visibility and control to all branch routers, regardless of underlying infrastructure or connection type. This reduces the need for IT engineers to manually program each router in branch offices, minimizing the risk of error.
Centralized policy management enables you to create and deploy security policies easily and at scale as your business evolves and grows. It also eliminates the need to use multiple-point products for networking and security at the edge, reducing complexity and lowering management overhead. Application optimization lets you prioritize traffic from a specific location, such as moving voice and video over low-latency, high-bandwidth connections (like MPLS) while directing less time-critical data over cheaper local broadband internet. This helps you improve productivity and user experience.
SD-WAN analytics is analyzing data from networking components to gain insights into how well network performance is. These insights are then used to make changes to the WAN to optimize application performance. This is one of the primary goals of SD-WAN, and it’s also a key component of modern network operations. In addition to reducing network costs, SD-WAN improves security and resiliency by automating traffic steering in an application-driven manner based on business intent. This is done by aggregating direct internet access and private multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) connections into a single, logical application-delivery path. It can also prioritize applications based on their criticality and vary bandwidth access to promote increment in speed to match real-time demand. Modern SD-WAN solutions also provide centralized visibility and telemetry for obtaining performance metrics at the edge of the WAN network. They combine data from various sources, including Simple Network Management Protocol metrics, logs, NetFlow/IP flow information export and DNS data. They also use health probe statistics and streaming telemetry data to offer more granular insight into the WAN than can be gleaned from SNMP or logs alone. SD-WAN solutions often feature on-premises or cloud deployment options for the different components of the solution. This flexibility helps businesses obtain the scale and cost efficiencies they seek while maintaining a high granularity level.
The centralized management of SD-WAN enables network teams to change routing policies across distributed edge devices easily. From a single management portal, they can assign paths to applications based on criticality, monitor performance and availability, provision new sites, perform software and firmware updates, and allow users to flex bandwidth. This eliminates the need for complex command line interface (CLI) procedures and reduces IT overhead.
A central manager creates virtual overlays that connect site locations through end-to-end encrypted tunnels. It then intelligently steers traffic on the best available path based on business policies, improving application performance and reducing costs. It also provides redundancy and failover, sending low-priority data over cheaper public internet connections while retaining private links for mission-critical applications.
A centralized SD-WAN also simplifies network security. It enables IT teams to secure all branch locations, including remote workers. It can be implemented through a telco provider or a non-telco vendor that delivers a Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) platform. It provides advanced security and VPN features to connect WAN links with Internet data services such as broadband and 5G. It can also be used to provide connectivity with SaaS and IaaS providers. Ideally, the solution supports zero-touch provisioning (ZTP). It allows IT to easily send small appliances to remote offices for connection to the corporate network over existing internet connections and cell service.