To ensure maximum productivity in the digital age, businesses have to manage an increasing number of technologies, platforms, systems, and of course, network models. MPLS still has its place, but SD-WAN adoption is growing fast. This software-defined model is set to become the next big-time player in networking for enterprise and government sites alike.
Essentially, SD-WAN acts as an overlay for your existing MPLS network, allowing you to enjoy the spoils of Broadband without uprooting everything from the ground. The flexibility of an SD-WAN overlay allows for multiple links and dual providers - a nimble network architecture that presents a number of benefits, driving the move to SD-WAN.
Moving to the Cloud
Everyone’s moving online, simply because it makes day-to-day tasks quicker and easier. Wide area networks (WANs) have evolved to the point that the majority of traffic is directed to the internet. Even if a company’s infrastructure isn’t in the Cloud, chances are they regularly use a Cloud-based service such as Slack, Office 365 or Google Drive.
As an internet-centric solution, SD-WAN can steer traffic and adjust bandwidth where it’s needed most, such as to prevent lagging in a real-time video chat. Traditional WAN architectures are not designed to support the new consumption model of apps in the most efficient way, but SD-WAN is. The quality of your internet underlay will define the quality of your overlay; the services you deliver via the internet – voice, video, data, applications.
Even if an application is not suitable for public Cloud migration, SD-WAN allows for a private or hybrid Cloud solution that improves connectivity without having to move entirely to the public sector. With greater network control, segmented security policies and increased security measures are simple to deploy.
Consistency across global networks
SD-WAN is particularly useful for global corporations, with multiple branches and offices spread across various countries. SD-WAN uses a centralised control function to securely and intelligently direct traffic across multiple sites. If you’re using a 4G connection or different access technologies in an SD-WAN overlay, a whole new office can be set up in just a few weeks. You can also push policies from the centralised SD-WAN platform to that office in a heartbeat, creating consistency across every new location.
To provide the best connectivity underlay options, SD-WAN solutions should take into account local supplier quality, last mile access methods, redundancy options, routing, and overall limitations of connectivity in certain geographies.
Automated application performance
All in all, employee productivity will see a big boom under SD-WAN network architecture. Using a policy engine in combination with SD-WAN, network engineers are able to assign priorities to different applications. For example, important video calls might get significant bandwidth, while a gaggle of employees on Twitter can be pushed to the lowest priority. Business-critical applications will therefore have minimal latency.
SD-WAN also has an ability to optimise traffic with dynamic protocols, speeding up performance. For instance, a dynamic protocol might automatically intervene when packets are lost or received out of order, correcting the issue in milliseconds without any noticeable drop-off in running applications. Automated performance enhancement is a big part of SD-WAN’s inherent flexibility.
SD-WAN customers are not locked into an overarching network or have to pay for superfluous services, which oftentimes makes SD-WAN a much cheaper option than traditional MPLS. For instance, both Internet broadband and 4G LTE are relatively cost-effective connectivity options. By choosing those links for certain types of low-priority traffic, instead of the expensive MPLS network, companies can significantly reduce expenses.
That’s the flexibility of SD-WAN, allowing companies to pick-and-mix access technologies, carriers, hardware and other network components to suit specific needs. After all, a construction site is going to have very different needs from a retail pop-up.
Faced with coordinating a set of highly customizable SD-WAN components and vendors, external management services are brought in to streamline services into a single bill, contract, currency, technical support, performance reviews and logistics.
Performance reporting, monitoring and visualisation capabilities add a comprehensive visibility layer to your SD-WAN network. It’s almost like a black box. You can take a look at live performance data right from all around the world and troubleshoot accordingly.
Furthermore, Cloud Acceleration solutions can be combined with SD-WAN to actively probe all internet prefixes for performance metrics such as packet loss, latency, throughput, historical reliability and maximum peer capacity.