The final blog in our series on Connectivity explores a new technology that has caught the eye of leading industry analysts.Software Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN) is a hot topic right now. Enterprise organisations are excited by a technology that can give visibility and rich insight into the performance of the WAN and that also offers the possibility of an escape from the expense of using a traditional Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) service.
With more data and video being consumed on mobile devices, more applications being consumed in the cloud and more IoT devices generating huge amounts of information, leading analyst Gartner is predicting that spending on SD-WAN products will rise from the $millions to the $billions in the next three years.
Let’s take a closer look at what it is and what benefits it could bring to the enterprise.
What Is SD-WAN?
SD-WAN is a specific application of software defined networking (SDN) technology applied to Wide Area Network (WAN) connections, which are used to connect enterprise networks – including branch offices and data centres – over large geographic distances.
A WAN might be used to connect branch offices to a central corporate network. Previously this often meant being locked in to using expensive dedicated MPLS circuits over a long term. The use of SD-WAN moves away from vendor lock-in by using network virtualisation. It bundles multiple low-cost commodity circuits together to create an intelligent, flexible, high performing, secure WAN.
What are the business benefits?
SD-WAN will be of particular benefit to any enterprise that requires a Wide Area Network that can scale - from two to any multiple of sites. The implementation of SD-WAN involves zero touch provisioning and significantly reduces installation complexity. Due to the low cost of internet links there is also a substantial saving on the typically high costs of a dedicated MPLS cloud that invariably involves commitment to a long-term contract.
The SD-WAN is managed through an overlay controller which gives greater control, better security and improved insight into the WAN. It is quicker and easier to make network changes and to manage connectivity more cost effectively, particularly in an enterprise with many geographic locations.
How is it best used?
By continual intelligent monitoring of traffic, the SD-WAN controller can select the most appropriate path for specific application traffic. Congestion points are spotted quickly and traffic diverted along alternative less-utilised routes. The result is optimised load balancing and congestion management. If more bandwidth is needed at an office location it can be shared across connection points and new circuits can be provisioned quickly without affecting uptime.
According to Gartner, SD-WAN has four key characteristics:
· Supports multiple connection types including MPLS and internet
· Allows for load sharing across WAN connections
· Supports automated provisioning and changes to network services – Virtual Private Networks, firewalls, WAN optimisation and application delivery control
· Provides a simple interface for zero-touch provisioning at a branch office
The trend towards SD-WAN will accelerate over the next few years as enterprises embrace more cloud-based technologies and look for more ways to improve ROI.
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