SD-WAN + Firewall
what is sd-wan?
Despite the technological advancements that ushered in a new digital age, many aspects of traditional enterprise IT networks remain essentially unchanged. Fortunately, a new option has emerged that’s helping businesses of all sizes optimize their IT networks. It’s called Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN), it is a software-defined approach toward bringing wide area networking to organizations seeking more diversity and control over their enterprise WAN, as well as Local Area Network (LAN)-like features at a broader scale.
Software-defined WAN, or simply known as SD-WAN, is the next evolution of enterprise WAN technology. SD-WAN is similar to software-defined networking (SDN) in that it uses software to manage and control network resources and services. However, SD-WAN focuses explicitly on WANs.
WAN is, in a nutshell, any form of telecommunications network where information travels between devices in different locations via either virtual private networks (VPNs), lines, or wireless networks. If WAN didn’t exist, for instance, enterprise connection would be restricted to specific areas or geographic regions. As businesses grow and become global organizations, WAN allows them to share data between branches and stay connected.
Historically, the two most popular WAN connectivity options have been MPLS and broadband Internet. Businesses have tended to prefer MPLS, as it is essentially a private network, and therefore considered reliable and secure. However, as previously said, MPLS is not designed to handle the high volumes of WAN traffic that result from SaaS applications and cloud adoption. In addition, because of its private aspect, it is also an expensive network solution.
SD-WAN is a newer approach to WAN. It’s a product (not a network infrastructure) that acts as an overlay for companies’ existing network solution (may it be MPLS, broadband Internet or a hybrid model), separating the network control and management processes from the underlying hardware and making them available, as the name suggests, as software, just like any application. By using a centralized control function, it securely and intelligently steers traffic across multiple sites, adjusting bandwidth where it’s needed most. This allows enterprises to enjoy the spoils of broadband without uprooting everything from the ground.
SD-WAN also incorporates a traditional hardware-based networking model and adds a software-defined virtual network overlay on top. This overlay is managed and provisioned centrally by a controller, removing the need for device-by-device network configuration and management. The underlay, or data plane, is then left with the responsibility to process and transit packets between devices.
The overlay can run over a range of standard network transport services, including the public internet, 4G, 5G, and MPLS. Based on the performance of the underlying network transport, application-aware routing will control where and when an application uses a specific service to maintain the performance of real-time and sensitive applications.
SD-WAN Benefits for business - 6 advantages over MPLS
The Internet has been around long before the world first heard of SD-WAN and its benefits. However, it wasn’t until the early 2000s that millions of homes and offices connected through broadband to the Web on a 24/7 basis. To adapt to an increasing demand of Internet connectivity and guarantee stable networks, enterprises, since then, have opted for Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) solutions.
Fundamentally, MPLS allows a router to place a ‘label’ on packets of Internet traffic, each label explaining where the information needs to go next. This, in turn, reduces processing time at each router – a speed augmentation that was welcomed by big business twenty years ago.
But the year is 2022, and the challenges businesses face today are unprecedented to say the least. In the early 2000s, digital transformation was unknown, corporate applications were not in the cloud, and users were not accessing the Internet from mobile devices. MPLS was an adequate solution for yesterday’s challenges, but not todays. Cloud-fuelled global enterprises demand a high-performance, application-agnostic managed network solution – that’s where SD-WAN comes into play.
What are the benefits of SD-WAN for your business?
SD-WAN presents a flexible option for those looking for an alternative to MPLS or hybrid network configurations. That’s because SD-WAN can manage multiple types of connections – including MPLS and broadband – and route traffic over the best path in real-time. Virtualizing your business network can result in endless benefits. Let’s have a look at each below:
Better Network Management
SD-WAN introduces a network overlay that lets businesses respond to changing operational needs quickly. Since it doesn’t rely on the underlay (it’s a virtual network solution), it can be rapidly deployed and adjusted to the customer’s needs.
Company-wide connectivity requirements can be orchestrated from a central management dashboard that offers full network visibility across branches. By having a 360, real-time view of their business Internet performance, companies have full control of their network, and can provide better network performance as the situation demands.
what is sd-wan?
SD-WAN is a software-defined approach to managing the WAN.
Key advantages include:
- Reducing costs with transport independence across MPLS, 4G/5G LTE, and other connection types.
- Improving application performance and increasing agility.
- Optimizing user experience and efficiency for software-as-a-service (SaaS) and public-cloud applications.
- Simplifying operations with automation and cloud-based management.
The traditional WAN (wide-area network) function was to connect users at the branch or campus to applications hosted on servers in the data center. Typically, dedicated MPLS circuits were used to help ensure security and reliable connectivity. This doesn’t work in a cloud-centric world.
Today’s IT challenges
Times have changed. As businesses adopt the use of SaaS and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) applications in multiple clouds, IT is realizing that the user application experience is poor. That is because WANs designed for a different era are not ready for the unprecedented explosion of WAN traffic that cloud adoption brings. That traffic causes management complexity, application-performance unpredictability, and data vulnerability.
Further, opening the enterprise to the Internet and the cloud exposes major threat and compliance issues. It is extremely challenging to protect the critical assets of an enterprise when applications are accessed by a diverse workforce, including employees, partners, contractors, vendors, and guests. Enabling broadband on the WAN makes the security requirements more acute, creating challenges for IT in balancing user experience, security, and complexity.
The new WAN
New business models drive the need for a new network model.
SD-WAN addresses the current IT challenges. This new approach to network connectivity can lower operational costs and improve resource usage for multisite deployments. Network administrators can use bandwidth more efficiently and can help ensure high levels of performance for critical applications without sacrificing security or data privacy.