With businesses increasingly adopting cloud applications and working in the field, a traditional multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) network can hinder performance. SD-WAN solves these problems.
Unlike traditional routers, a single software stack optimizes performance through service chaining. This means administrators can manage security and WAN services from one location, simplifying the management process.
Improved Network Performance
What is SD-WAN in networking? Network performance is significantly improved because SD-WAN prioritizes traffic based on application needs and enables a mix of WAN links to support hybrid networking. Applications run more smoothly, and lag or downtime is less likely. Data travels over multiple channels simultaneously and uses the quickest routes. It also supports bandwidth scaling and dynamic bandwidth prioritization. The centralized control function of an SD-WAN also ensures unified application performance across the enterprise.
SD-WAN can also be configured to use more cost-effective internet connections and VPNs between branches and the data center instead of expensive leased lines, which reduces OPEX. It also simplifies and centrally manages deployment, reducing the time it takes to bring new branches online.
Additionally, a single software plugin connects all the locations to the data center with one network overlay, eliminating the need for separate security appliances like firewalls and IDPs at each branch site. This improves visibility into the network for NetOps teams as well. When combined with a network observability platform like Kentik, SD-WAN vendors can export IPFIX telemetry into the forum. This allows it to correlate granular performance insights and provide more actionable data to IT teams.
A secure and reliable network is essential to a business. SD-WAN enables enterprises to improve security by centralizing control over WAN connections and application policies, reducing the risk of manual errors or oversights.
SD-WAN technology uses programmable networking devices and dynamic best-path routing to improve cost, agility, and performance. It also converges WAN with security functions such as CASB, FWaaS, and Zero Trust to deliver more robust protection against attacks, including DDoS and phishing.
Traditional WAN configurations force all traffic to return to the company’s data center or headquarters, increasing latency and decreasing application performance. This is especially true for traffic destined for cloud solutions. SD-WAN allows you to send low-priority data over lower-cost broadband internet connections and reserve higher-quality MPLS circuits for mission-critical applications. This helps organizations reduce reliance on expensive, leased MPLS circuits and boost application performance. It also enables organizations to seamlessly migrate to the cloud, improving business productivity, customer satisfaction, and profitability. SD-WAN also supports a broader range of connectivity options, including 4G and 5G wireless services.
While traditional WAN configurations require all data to travel back to headquarters, SD-WAN lets you connect branch offices directly to the cloud, eliminating traffic backhauling. This reduces bandwidth costs and enables a higher quality of experience for employees at remote locations.
By utilizing multiple transport methods, such as MPLS, broadband Internet, LTE cellular, and virtual private networks (VPNs), SD-WAN provides built-in redundancy and resiliency across the WAN. In addition, it enables centralized, automated management of underlay network utilities and routing based on application policies. This means your business can minimize or even avoid performance degradation caused by latency, packet loss, and jitter.
In addition, firewall capabilities are often integrated into SD-WAN devices, eliminating the need for separate hardware and reducing staffing requirements at remote locations. This helps you achieve more significant ROI for your SD-WAN solution and makes it easier to deploy and manage. Zero-touch provisioning also enables you to speed up device deployment and configuration, further reducing OPEX. Then, application optimization ensures that only business-critical applications receive the priority and security they need to function well.
With SD-WAN, IT teams can use multiple internet service providers at each branch location and choose the best price. This increases flexibility and network reliability, reducing the risk of costly outages or performance degradation from unreliable links.
In addition, SD-WAN allows for automatic provisioning of application policies that align with business intent. This improves user experience and maintains a consistent security posture across the organization. For example, an insurance company could prioritize and route work-from-home traffic based on business intent so that remote workers have a seamless on-ramp to critical applications for customer satisfaction, productivity, and profitability.
Lastly, SD-WAN can reduce bandwidth costs by bypassing MPLS networks. MPLS is significantly more expensive than public internet bandwidth on a dollar-per-bit basis. Moreover, provisioning MPLS devices can take weeks or months. In contrast, deploying an SD-WAN appliance or CPE in a branch location is usually completed within days and can be scaled up in processing power depending on the needs of the branch office.
As technology evolves and workforces become more remote, it is essential to implement a secure network edge solution that converges WAN with advanced network security services like CASB, FWaaS, and Zero Trust into a single software-defined, cloud-delivered service model.
With SD-WAN, businesses can avoid the costs associated with traditional MPLS connections. For example, suppose your company is considering moving from MPLS to broadband internet for all its connectivity needs. In that case, you can use an SD-WAN solution during a planned transition to reduce bandwidth usage and ensure quality and stability for critical applications.
SD-WAN also connects remote sites directly to cloud services like email without relying on MPLS connections. This helps cut costs by eliminating circuit delivery and equipment provisioning while providing a more flexible network infrastructure that meets the growing needs of your multi-site and cloud-reliant enterprise.
And because an SD-WAN solution is sold as a software-centric subscription service, most of the hardware is bundled in and billed with one monthly fee that includes all the features you need. This eliminates the need for multiple teams to manage different hardware devices and gives you centralized control and visibility. In addition, most SD-WAN solutions include NGFW, IPS, encryption, AV, and sandboxing features that help protect your business from security breaches and other threats.