4 Tricks About SD-WAN You Wish You Knew Before

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Networking

Many enterprises buy WAN technology to connect remote offices securely to their central data center. Traditionally, this requires a secure line to be installed at each site.

With SD-WAN, a company can offload internet access at their branches and improve their network bandwidth, performance, and reliability. However, it can also create a bigger attack surface for hackers.

Using the Public Internet for Routing

Many business applications now run in the cloud, usually secured behind private multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) links. Traditionally, traffic routing to and from the cloud was done via a traditional WAN model that backhauled traffic across the WAN to the hub or data center for security inspection. This added latency to application performance. So, what are the basics of SD-WAN?

SD-WAN offers a much more reliable way to get this critical traffic to the cloud. By leveraging local internet broadband connections and global private backbones, SD-WAN provides reliable connectivity to the cloud with high speed, redundancy, and reliability. This helps to improve the performance of cloud-based applications and reduces network costs for telcos, MSPs, and their customers.

As businesses become more digital, they often move their tools and processes to the public cloud alongside a company’s private data centers. This enables companies to be agile and mobile while maintaining the privacy of sensitive information. However, a traditional WAN model can’t support this. Backhauling all traffic to the corporate headquarters introduces latency and degrades application performance. SD-WAN can help to overcome these issues by providing a better onramp to the cloud, improved application performance, and consistent security with zero touch management and automation.

Using the Public Internet for Routing

A software-defined wide-area network (SD-WAN) solution can help you securely connect your branch offices to users, applications & devices from anywhere. It can provide transport independence, enable centralized management from a single portal, and improve application performance. In addition, it can deliver stronger security through cloud-delivered networking & security functions.

An ideal SD-WAN can manage thousands of WAN routers from a central controller, making building and pushing policies across the entire network easier. This is especially useful if you have remote work locations. In these cases, a zero-touch provisioning feature can be useful to reduce the time and resources needed to configure new sites.

Customer premises equipment (CPE) for SD-WAN solutions varies in capability and sophistication but is often a hybrid of traditional routers with built-in VPN capability and WAN optimization features. Depending on the solution, it may support multiple Internet connections (including MPLS) and cellular or satellite links. Some can also host virtual network functions, or VNFs, which perform secondary network functions like firewalling.

A basic SD-WAN can direct traffic on an application basis down a single path and switch to another in case of a transport failure or underperforming link. However, the failover times can be measured in tens of seconds, leading to annoying application interruption for employees. A business-driven SD-WAN can detect and route around these issues, providing seamless, sub-second failover that keeps applications up and running.

Using the Public Internet for Routing

Many SD-WAN solutions offer a way to route traffic over the public internet rather than MPLS. This allows them to provide direct, high-speed connections to SaaS and IaaS applications, which increases application performance, improves security, and reduces costs compared with a traditional or hybrid WAN architecture.

With this model, an SD-WAN solution creates virtualized overlays in the form of end-to-end encrypted tunnels over which a centralized manager intelligently steers network traffic on a per-application basis using business policy to offer optimal quality of service (QoS). In addition, an SD-WAN can use direct internet access from a branch to connect directly to the closest Secure Access Service Edge Point of Presence (SASE) and then leverage a global private backbone for high-speed, redundant, and reliable connectivity.

Most SD-WAN solutions provide basic built-in security features such as next-generation firewalls and a secure web gateway to prevent data loss, downtime, and legal liabilities. They can also support various data services and deliver automation and zero-touch provisioning to reduce deployment times.

The best SD-WANs can monitor network performance in real-time and provide predictive analytics to identify potential issues. This can significantly reduce resolution times for organizational IT troubleshooting and help maintain peak performance across the enterprise.

Using the Public Internet for Routing

Leveraging the public internet for routing is a game changer for many organizations. It enables them to use cost-effective options, such as broadband Internet connections, instead of more expensive MPLS. This allows businesses to scale their WAN and deliver greater performance for mission-critical applications without compromising security.

It also eliminates the need for costly backhauling traffic destined for the cloud from branch offices. This backhaul wastes bandwidth and introduces latency that negatively impacts application performance. Instead, a business-driven SD-WAN can send traffic directly over the Internet from branch locations to cloud and SaaS applications using an advanced routing protocol.

Moreover, business-driven SD-WAN combines multiple connections into an intelligent and adaptive multi-path topology that delivers the highest levels of QoE. It also reduces costs by leveraging direct Internet access and improving existing circuits’ utilization. In addition, it can improve network security by integrating with Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) platforms. This provides a suite of security services, such as secure web gateways and cloud access security brokers, to protect applications from vulnerabilities.

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