This article discusses SD-WAN, a networking technology that offers centralized control from the cloud. Unlike traditional WAN architectures, IT teams can set policies and effectively manage network performance. With SD-WAN, they can prioritize mission-critical applications and optimize connections across various broadband, cellular, and Internet links. Learn more about SD-WAN in this article.
Work-from-home solutions have helped businesses navigate the coronavirus pandemic and enable more workers to remain productive even when office spaces are closed. But this shift to flexible working requires a safe, secure, and reliable network that prioritizes applications like video and voice collaboration. It also demands sufficient bandwidth to transmit large files to and from remote locations. And it means that IT teams need to manage accelerated broadband demand cost-effectively.
Traditional WAN architectures rely on costly old telephone service (POTS) lines or multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) networks to connect remote users to corporate data centers. But as organizations adopt advanced unified communications, mobile access, and cloud applications, these infrastructures are stretched to their limits.
SD-WAN provides a cost-effective alternative to these traditional WAN models by using broadband Internet to create secure, high-performance connections for remote users. It improves performance and reliability through multi-path dynamic optimization, prioritizing business-critical applications based on their latency needs. And it reduces IT costs by allowing enterprises to replace expensive routing hardware and eliminating the need for dedicated circuits.
SD-WAN enables branch offices to access cloud applications directly, eliminating the need for backhauling traffic that burdens the core data center network. And it offers a more efficient service with centralized policy management and visibility.
In a time when securing work-from-home connections has become vital to remote collaboration, SD-WAN offers a flexible solution. It provides visibility into network traffic, allowing IT teams to prioritize and route critical applications over reliable, high-performance connections. This boosts productivity and employee morale. It also eliminates performance issues like latency and jitter over residential internet service provider networks.
Unlike VPNs with a coarse-grained approach to remote access and only support a handful of users, SD-WAN offers a more fine-grained approach. Instead of routing all home office traffic over the connection back to headquarters, it enables specific categories of traffic to be routed directly to headquarters, leaving other nonwork-related traffic for a separate Internet connection. This reduces infrastructure requirements and costs while improving security.
In addition, SD-WAN enables direct cloud access for remote branches and employees. This alleviates the need to backhaul all traffic to headquarters, which improves performance and allows enterprises to connect clouds for better business flexibility. With centralized management and zero-touch deployment, SD-WAN can quickly provide remote sites with additional bandwidth to avoid bottlenecks during peak usage while improving application performance and availability. This helps to ensure the best possible user experience for remote workers and allows businesses to meet the growing demand for seamless connectivity between branch offices, data centers, and cloud environments.
As organizations activate their business continuity plans to allow employees to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, IT teams ensure remote users have reliable access to key data and applications. To meet these new accelerated bandwidth demands, SD-WAN provides optimized performance that is more cost-effective than VPN and allows for improved visibility and centralized management.
The scalability of SD-WAN makes it easy to adapt as needed for the rapid growth in remote user traffic or to help manage costs and resources when demand is low. In addition, if residential internet service providers become over-saturated, SD-WAN can automatically switch to lower-cost LTE or MPLS connections to provide a resilient and robust network connection that minimizes latency and jitter for better application performance.
Another way that SD-WAN improves connectivity for remote workers is by enabling direct cloud access at the branch. This eliminates the need for backhauling – routing all traffic to the central data center – which can lead to expensive data transfers and poor performance over long distances.
Finally, because the WAN architecture of SD-WAN is software-driven rather than hardware dependent, it is much easier for networking professionals to configure, optimize and secure the network. This translates to faster time to market and a more efficient deployment that can scale with the rapid growth of remote work.
As flexible working continues to gain popularity, businesses invest heavily in enabling remote work for their employees. However, this shift has also increased network traffic and intensified connectivity demands in ways that outstrip legacy WAN capabilities.
Traditionally, this has been addressed by deploying VPN tunnels that connect each remote office or worker to the corporate network backbone. While this approach offers adequate security, it also introduces cost, latency, and complexity challenges.
SD-WAN is a more efficient solution to this challenge. SD-WAN can deliver high-quality performance over multiple paths, even over low-cost broadband links using dynamic multi-path optimization and application-specific prioritization. It also reduces costs by eliminating the need for backhauling data between branches and the central network and enables direct cloud access at the branch through secure Internet connections.
Finally, it makes it easier to manage a distributed network by leveraging the same centralized control functions used in your IT headquarters.