Due to the expansion of cloud computing (Software-Defined Wide Area Networking), SD-WAN is a new approach to replace traditional communication network systems. Over the past years, there have been significant changes in van networks. One of the most important of them is Software Defined WAN or SD-WAN. This solution is changing the way network fans think about optimizing connection usage, which is as diverse as Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS, frame relay, and even DSL).
As the name suggests, SD–WAN uses software to control connectivity, management, and services between data centers and remote branch or cloud instances.
A key feature of SD-WAN is the ability to manage multiple connections from MPLS to broadband to LTE. Another important part is the ability to segment and secure traffic that passes through the WAN.
The main tenets of SD-WAN are to simplify the ways large enterprises create new links to their branches, better manage how those links are used – for data, voice or video – and potentially save more.
As noted in a recent Gartner report, SD-WAN and vCPE are key technologies to help companies transform their networks from “fragile to agile”. Cisco SD-WAN, VMWare SASE, Fortinet, HPE (ARUBA), Versa Networks, Huawei, etc. can be mentioned among the companies that operate in this field.
The traditional WAN (wide area network) function was to connect users in branch offices to applications hosted on servers in the data center. Typically, dedicated MPLS circuits were used to ensure security and reliable connectivity. That doesn’t work in cloud-based systems.
IT challenges today
As businesses deploy SaaS and infrastructure applications as a service (IaaS) across multiple clouds, IT has realized that the user application experience is poor. Because WAN networks designed for a bygone era are not prepared for the unprecedented explosion of WAN traffic that cloud technology brings.
This traffic causes management complexity, unpredictability of application performance and data vulnerability. In addition, companies’ use of the Internet and cloud-based networks present major threats and compliance issues.
Protecting a company’s critical assets is challenging when data is accessed by a diverse workforce, including employees, partners, contractors, vendors, and guests. Enabling bandwidth on the WAN tightens security requirements and creates challenges for IT in balancing user experience, security, and complexity.
New business models require new network models. SD-WAN addresses current IT challenges. This new approach to network connectivity can reduce operational costs and improve resource utilization for multi-site deployments. Network administrators can use bandwidth more efficiently and can ensure high performance for critical applications without compromising data security and privacy.
What is SD–WAN architecture?
Traditional WAN architecture was limited to the enterprise, branches and data center. When an organization adopts cloud-based applications in the form of SaaS and IaaS, its WAN architecture experiences an explosion of globally distributed application traffic. These changes have several implications for IT. Employee productivity may be compromised by SaaS application performance issues. WAN costs are increased by inefficient use of dedicated and backup circuits. IT has a complex and daily battle to connect multiple types of users with multiple types of devices to multiple cloud environments. With SD-WAN, IT can provide routing, threat protection, efficiently offload expensive circuits, and simplify WAN network management.
Leading companies in the field of SD–WAN
As we mentioned earlier, many companies, including Cisco SD-WAN, VMWare SASE, Fortinet, HPE (ARUBA), Versa Networks, Huawei, etc., are active in the field of SD-WAN.
But some of them are among the best due to the use of their special features and architectures. Also, some of these companies can be considered as the leaders of this technology due to the use of more up-to-date technologies.
As you can see in the image below, Gartner has categorized the products of these companies using the tests it has conducted on each company’s software. In this way, the product of each company has been examined in terms of “Completeness of vision” and “Ability to execute” and given a score to each one. Finally, according to the amount of points obtained by each company’s product, the following chart has been created.
As you can see in this chart, the SD-WAN software of Cisco SD-WAN, VMWare SASE, Fortinet companies are rated as leaders in this field.
Advantages of using SD-WAN
- Template-driven, zero-touch provisioning for all locations: branch, campus and cloud
- Detailed WAN application and performance reporting for business analysis and bandwidth forecasting
- Unified, centralized, cloud management dashboard for configuring and managing WAN, cloud, and security
Optimized cloud connectivity
- Seamless WAN extension to multiple public clouds
- Optimized workflow for cloud platforms such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure
- Optimized real-time performance for Microsoft Office 365, Salesforce and other major SaaS applications
- Use secure traffic via broadband and cloud
- Integrated threat protection is applied where appropriate
- Application-aware policies with end-to-end segmentation and real-time access control
- Distribute security to branch and remote endpoints with NGFW, DNS and NGAV security
Better app experience
- Multiple active-active hybrid links for all network scenarios
- High availability, with predictable service, for all critical enterprise applications
- Dynamically route application traffic with application-aware routing for efficient delivery and improved user experience
- Improved OpEx, replacing expensive multi-protocol label services (MPLS) with more affordable and flexible economic broadband (including secure VPN connections)