SD-Wan (software-defined wide area network), is a relatively new WAN technology.
Until now, businesses have relied on private WAN architectures like MPLS to support their remote sites. The idea being that their remote users should have the same application experience as those directly connected to the corporate LAN.
Until now, companies would have to run T1’s or some other dedicated access to small remote offices if they wanted a guaranteed quality of service. While good on the service level, ever increasing bandwith demands by cloud-based applications has rendered the old reliable T1 inadiquate as the T1 only supports 1.5 MBPS speed. Add to it that the cost of a T1 can range anywhere from $300-$500/mo on average, and a traditional MPLS installation becomes very costly depending on the number of remote offices needing support.
Broadband connections at remote offices, while attractive for speed and cost, are unreliable. In addition, LAN devices need to be deployed at the edge of the remote office LAN to handle quality of service issues and traffic shaping. Additionally, those remote offices might also have to connect to the MPLS network over a VPN, further adding to bandwidth overhead.
These architectural issues are now preventing organizations from being able to smoothly integrate cloud, public, and dynamic environments. MPLS architectures are largely static. These static instances don’t play well in cloud-based environments.
SD-WAN is for wide area networks what VMware was for server hosting. SD-WAN, in essence, virtualizes WAN technology. Network administrators can now use SD-Wan to virtualize their networking hardware, allowing for a number of benefits, the greatest being cost savings. Here are a few others:
- Security – Traditional WAN solutions rely on firewalls and edge appliances to handle security services. SD-WAN appliances include a master control for all network connections including security access and intervention for every branch and remote device as well as NAT translation and malware support.
- Automatic Provisioning – Setting up a new remote location has never been easier. In the old way, edge devices were typically configured at the home office and then shipped to the remote location. With SD-WAN, an unconfigured appliance can be shipped to a remote office. The device then downloads its config and traffic patterns.
- Virtual Path Control – Perhaps the greatest advantage of SD-WAN is that it can provide virtual path control. Think of it like BGP, but better. SD-WAN software can intelligently direct traffic based on any number of conditions. For example, if one path has a higher quality of service, voice traffic can pass over it. Should that path degrade, the next best path will automatically be selected. Rules can be set based on protocol, IP address, QoS, and much more. Path control also means that backup trunks can now be lit up and utilized as part of the WAN connection, rather than sitting dorman until needed.
While it’s taken some time, it would appear that WAN technology is taking a giant leap forward with SD-WAN. Contact a specialist at N2Net to learn more about SD-WAN and how you can layer it right on top of your existing WAN infrastructure.