The software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) is a rapidly maturing technology that is widely deployed by organizations as a cost-effective way to link branch offices to their own data centers as well as SaaS and other cloud-based applications. However, there is still a lot of misinterpretation about what an SD-WAN is and how exactly it works.
What is SD-WAN?
SD-WAN refers to a software-defined wide area network (or networking). The term "software-defined" means that the WAN is programmatically configured and managed. As a result, it can be rapidly modified to meet evolving requirements. This technology automatically determines the most efficient way to route application traffic between branch offices and data center sites based on configured policies.
By abstracting and automating functions that were previously programmed manually on each edge device, the technology centralizes network control enabling agile and real-time application traffic management. This abstraction improves network bandwidth, redundancy, and performance and enables centralized management and orchestration. According to a recent survey conducted by Statista on potential benefits of SD-WAN technology, 52% out of the 268 respondents view improved management and monitoring as the key benefit of SD-WAN followed by increased resilience and improved network security (Source: Statista 2020 ). Further, SD-WAN architecture establishes a network overlay that allows IT to configure, control, track, and protect most aspects of the WAN, including edge devices and traffic flows, from a remote location with zero-touch provisioning.
It is more adaptable than MPLS and is more flexible and reliable compared to VPN-based WAN, enabling the replacement of MPLS, which is costly and time-consuming to connect to new locations. Furthermore, by converging networking and security capabilities, SD-WAN eliminates the need to deploy expensive point security products at branch locations
How does it function?
SD-WAN was designed to solve many of the challenges associated with traditional WAN design as building a WAN was a daunting task that required dedicated connections, proprietary hardware, and extensive management and orchestration. Following are the characteristics that are generally attributed to SD-WAN.
- Centralized Control - The control is decoupled from the hardware to ease network management and improve the delivery of services which allows coherent networking protocols to be implemented throughout the organization.
- Policy-based management - The policy is used to assess dynamic route selection and can direct traffic depending on the degree of priority, such as quality of service (QoS). To boost performance, several policies may be implemented via the central management console to satisfy particular business needs, such as granting packet transmission priority for VoIP and other interactive services.
- Dynamic path selection - Since the SD-WAN manages routing and traffic management the outbound traffic is routed along the best direction based on application policy and real-time traffic conditions. If one of the last-mile connections fails, the SD-WAN system switches to the alternate link automatically, using pre-configured policies to handle the traffic load.
Many SD-WANs lack integrated security, necessitating the deployment of separate security items at each branch site. SD-WAN also entails the installation of an SD-WAN appliance at each endpoint, making it difficult or impractical to use for cloud or mobile traffic. Through our SD-WAN manager , which is a network management console that allows you to manage application traffic, assign policies, and configure devices and sites, hSenid Mobile can assist you in integrating the security services with SD-WAN technology. This platform also aids to increase end-to-end network visibility and deliver a great user experience for branches and remote sites.
In our next post, we will further discuss why your organization needs SD-WAN.