SD-WAN solutions can improve cost, agility, and performance by enabling better data routing. By monitoring WAN links, they prioritize traffic and ensure that critical applications have the capacity needed to work without performance issues.
Some vendors offer self-managing appliances with built-in security functions such as a firewall, WAN optimizers, and VPN. Others focus on single-site organizations that value route optimization capabilities and bulletproof failover.
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SD-WAN solutions enable the convergence of networking and security into a single solution that delivers unified control, management, and visibility. This reduces complexity and helps IT teams align their network infrastructure more easily to business objectives.
Secure connectivity means employees can work wherever necessary, whether at a branch office or in the field. They can also access data even if their internet or cellular service fails.
For example, enterprises can use micro-segmentation to ensure traffic from IoT devices only travels over encrypted connections. This prevents hackers from intercepting sensitive information like credit card numbers or personal health records as they travel over the public internet.
In addition, SD-WAN solutions enable businesses to optimize the performance of cloud and SaaS applications without backhauling them from branches to the corporate network. That saves money and provides a superior quality of experience for users.
In contrast to standard MPLS, which is an expensive strategy that increases latency and degrades the performance of applications, SD-WAN employs link bonding technology to combine many network link types into a single, higher-performance connection. This improves last-mile bandwidth, enables companies to deploy new services more quickly with less capital expenditure, and reduces network costs by moving more traffic over the public internet. Lastly, SD-WAN allows for automatically applying centrally managed policies and propagating to sites using a single-pane-of-glass interface.
A good SD-WAN solution provides superior application performance and lower latency than traditional private networks. Moreover, it helps improve the user experience of business applications, whether running on-premises or in the cloud.
Moreover, SD-WANs offer advanced capabilities to ensure network security is always in place. For instance, many solutions incorporate micro-segmentation, which enables enterprises to control network access by device, type, and priority. It also allows IT staff to use network policies to secure data that travels across the WAN, including traffic from remote locations.
In addition, SD-WANs can help to improve application performance through continuous self-learning. While a basic SD-WAN steers traffic according to templates, a business-driven solution uses real-time monitoring to detect and respond to any changes in network conditions that could impact application performance. This includes network congestion and brownouts as well as transport outages.
Sometimes, SD-WANs can handle a total transport outage seamlessly through sub-second failover. They measure channel quality and offload critical applications to a high-quality internet channel. This is accomplished through packet duplication (PD) and forward error correction (FEC).
In addition to security and performance, cost is one of the primary reasons enterprises adopt SD-WAN solutions. By replacing expensive MPLS connections with less costly broadband or mobile WAN links, businesses can reduce operational costs while retaining high levels of reliability and performance.
Unlike traditional WAN architectures, which backhaul all traffic destined to the cloud from branch offices to headquarters, an enterprise-driven SD-WAN solution allows traffic to be routed to and from the cloud through the internet and other private networks without backhauling. This means that business-critical applications are always available, and application performance is significantly improved.
As with increased agility, better application performance also reduces enterprise costs. An unreliable network can cost an organization hundreds of thousands of dollars per hour in lost revenue and productivity. However, an enterprise-driven SD-WAN solution can seamlessly handle a total transport outage, providing sub-second failover that prevents any disruption to critical business applications.
Additionally, an integrated next-generation firewall provides a single control point and management for all network devices. This eliminates the need for additional hardware and resources to be purchased and deployed at each location. The automated policy-based framework propagated from a centralized controller also increases visibility into applications, devices, users, and networking infrastructure from a single pane of glass. This gives IT teams a more holistic view of their business requirements and makes making changes that align with those goals and objectives easier.
With centralized management of secure and efficient traffic routing through the broadband network, SD-WAN solutions make it easier for IT teams to connect remote offices to central data centers and SaaS and IaaS providers. This increases productivity and flexibility for employees and provides the ability to leverage multiple Internet service providers (ISPs) in each location.
Traditional WAN architectures are often complex and require expensive specialized services and hardware. But, with a business-driven SD-WAN, enterprises can deploy firewall capabilities, segmentation, routing, WAN optimization, and advanced security functions from a single management console, which reduces costs and complexity.
Many simple SD-WANs rely their provisioning of application rules on predefined definitions and manually written ACLs. This can lead to inconsistent application performance and poor QoE, as WAN links are often overloaded and underperforming. However, a more sophisticated SD-WAN solution can automatically reconfigure itself to overcome link degradation by failing to a more reliable path.
Ideally, the chosen SD-WAN should provide complete real-time visibility into the network’s core functionality, including network usage statistics and connected devices. This granularity allows IT teams to drill down into WAN usage by VPN, site, device, and user to understand better what is driving their network performance. This level of visibility can help them to identify issues and resolve problems faster and improve their ability to predict bandwidth requirements.