With the increased remote work, IT must provide branch offices with secure connectivity to data centers and public cloud/SaaS resources. A next-gen SD-WAN provides centralized deployment, orchestration, and management with programmable, cloud-native security functions. The centralized controller monitors and optimizes the overlay and underlay networks for better application performance with optimized cloud connectivity and simplified management. It also assures consistent performance and resiliency and automates traffic steering in an application-driven manner based on business intent.
Optimal WAN routing
SD-WAN implementation in networking uses application-aware routing rather than a router-centric model that routes traffic based on TCP/IP addresses and ACLs. Each application class receives the appropriate QoS and security policies for a superior user experience. Network performance and reliability are also improved with a business-driven SD-WAN solution. The solution’s microsegmentation allows IT staff to separate and prioritize traffic, ensuring that high-priority applications travel on the fastest available links. This enables businesses to optimize bandwidth and avoid paying for unnecessarily expensive connections. If the original fails, a good SD-WAN will automatically route traffic to a different connection. This is known as link resiliency. The solution will assess the bandwidth capacity of each possible path and select the best one. An SD-WAN can help organizations lower costs by leveraging cost-effective internet connections for underlay networks instead of MPLS or VPNs. It can also provide load-balancing and bonding over multiple internet service providers, cellular connections, and satellite links. It can even host a range of virtual security functions, including zero trust and firewalls, which enables the solution to support future IoT connectivity requirements.
Flexible WAN connectivity
Many SD-WAN vendors offer a range of deployment models. Organizations can purchase a DIY model where the IT team independently deploys and manages the SD-WAN system. Alternatively, they can opt for a fully managed option where an MSP takes responsibility for acquiring internet links and technical support. An organization should examine the capabilities and features of its preferred vendor before making a choice. It should look for a solution that supports multiple transport modes and offers an easy path to the public Internet for branch offices. It should also ensure that the SD-WAN has self-healing functionality that automatically bridges gaps in internet reliability and maintains exceptional application performance. An advanced SD-WAN platform combines security, segmentation, routing, and WAN optimization functions into a single centrally managed solution. This improves network agility and flexibility, reduces costs, and provides a better user experience. For example, a business-driven SD-WAN prioritizes critical applications over the highest quality path and creates direct tunnels to eliminate backhauling and reduce latency. It can detect and remediate a transport failure in sub-seconds to avoid application disruption and lost productivity.
The best SD-WAN solutions incorporate advanced security functions. Rather than backhauling application traffic to a data center for inspection, they offer microsegmentation and other security tools directly in the cloud. This enables companies to use more cost-effective Internet connections and VPNs while maintaining security, reliability, and performance. Some even enable link-bonding to provide extra theoretical capacity and improve last-mile bandwidth efficiency. A business-driven SD-WAN uses intelligent application-aware routing to classify and route SaaS and IaaS traffic based on their specific requirements. This eliminates application interruption and user productivity problems. Unlike traditional router-centric models, which distribute control and management across thousands of devices, SD-WAN centralizes these functions through a network controller. This simplifies network administration and reduces deployment times at new sites. The centralized approach also improves troubleshooting and optimizes performance. Many vendors now combine the network capabilities of SD-WAN with cloud-delivered security functions to form what Gartner calls the Secure Access Services Edge (SASE). This improves security posture by eliminating the need for data to travel back and forth to a central location for inspection.
Scalability refers to the ability of a system to grow or change without disrupting operations. SD-WANs enable a more flexible approach to network design by centralizing control and management, optimizing traffic routing, reducing costs, and improving security. This flexibility makes SD-WANs suitable for a wide range of business applications. SD-WANs can also provide scalability through their ability to support multiple forms of WAN transport. While a basic solution may only direct traffic on an application basis, more advanced SD-WANs can leverage all available paths. This eliminates costly MPLS backup links and improves last-mile bandwidth efficiency. More advanced SD-WANs can also support centralized policy control and application performance optimization. This allows them to deliver better connectivity, productivity, and user experience. Some even offer direct cloud networking connections and integration with SASE platforms. With suitable scalability, an organization can easily upgrade its WAN infrastructure and improve online performance and communication quality. This is especially useful for enterprises with many locations around the world. The centralized, cloud-based delivery of SD-WANs enables zero-touch deployment, reducing the time and cost of deployment.
As a result of automation, SD-WAN solutions reduce the time and resources required for deployment and configuration. Some also offer zero-touch provisioning (ZTP), allowing IT teams to connect devices automatically once plugged in. This feature further reduces the complexity and opex of network operations by simplifying management, troubleshooting, and scaling. The centralized controller in an SD-WAN solution uses real-time data to direct traffic across the overlay and underlay networks. This improves application performance and resiliency in congestion or packet loss. It also provides better security via micro-segmentation. SD-WAN solutions use customer premises equipment (CPE) to manage connections to the Internet, cellular networks, and other private and public cloud platforms. These devices are hybrid routers and WAN optimizers with built-in VPN capability and policy management features.