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What is SD-WAN

Software Defined WAN (SD-WAN) is a key component of our Next-Generation WAN practice area. It is a new approach to delivering cloud-first networks that offer the agility, flexibility, cost and performance that are required for today's applications.

What problems does SD-WAN address?

Traditional WANs are often static, expensive, bandwidth constrained and highly complicated to configure and troubleshoot. With over 80% of traffic on some enterprise WANs destined for the Internet, private technologies like MPLS and VPLS are often an obstacle to delivering a great user experience for today's applications.

Some additional challenges with traditional networks include:

  • Poor bandwidth management - it can be very challenging to effectively split traffic between multiple WAN circuits
  • Lack of built-in visibility - obtaining insights into traffic flows, application usage and performance levels often requires expensive add-ons with additional management complexity
  • Poor Internet performance - Internet VPNs are often used at locations where MPLS is not cost effective, but it is challenging to deliver a high-performance network using this technology due to last-mile quality issues and variable performance on the Internet

What are the characteristics of a Software Defined WAN?

SD-WAN solutions address many of the challenges associated with traditional networks. Some of the key characteristics of SD-WAN include the following:

  • Centralized orchestration platform - based in the public cloud or on-premise, this platform allows site templates to be defined, automating the process of adding new sites or changing the characteristics of existing sites without adjusting invidivual configurations
  • WAN link aggregation - true SD-WAN solutions are transport agnostic, with the ability to treat the underlying network transport as a commodity and build the WAN at an overlay level. This includes leveraging all available capacity of the underlying circuits, with an awareness of the quality, bandwidth and performance of each circuit to help optimize performance and select the appropriate path at a per-packet level. WAN transport can be a mixture of MPLS, Internet or Ethernet private line, with the ability to include satellite and 4G/LTE wireless services without additional complexity
  • Smart QoS - effectively leveraging multiple network paths requires a detailed understanding of the enterprise traffic. SD-WAN solutions generally perform deep packet inspection (DPI) on traffic to provide application-level classification, which allows critical traffic to be separated from low-priority traffic at a very granular level. The leading solutions utilize a centralized application signature database that classifies thousands of popular applications, enabling a smart set of defaults out of the box
  • Built-in visibility - SD-WAN solutions offer an entirely new level of visibility and control for operational teams. Per-application utilization reporting, quality metrics and advanced remote diagnostics provide the ability to know exactly what is happening at each location without the use of additional tools

Is SD-WAN right for my enterprise?

We help enterprises answer this question every day. We have a detailed understanding of all SD-WAN offerings in the market, and have the experience to understand what is realistic in an enterprise environment. We can help by assessing your current environment to see if SD-WAN could be a good fit, and build a roadmap for the effective adoption of the technology. Contact us today to learn more.

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