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SD-WAN: essential considerations

SD-WAN is the hottest buzzword in networking and many organizations have already or will soon adopt SD-WAN solutions. Here are some essential considerations for IT organizations deciding whether to adopt or expand their SD-WANs.

The main attraction of SD-WAN is the fact that it combines multiple WAN links into one logical network. It also provides traffic prioritization to accelerate performance of applications that are deployed in internal data centers and in clouds.

Here are some of the essentials to consider when evaluating SD-WAN use.

Saving money

The economics of SD-WAN is about cost-avoidance and efficiency in regard to expensive WAN links. With average WAN data growth of 20 percent per year, most organizations need more bandwidth for high-speed communications to their remote offices. SD-WAN enables the secure deployment of Internet links DSL, cable, ethernet, wireless and other Internet links, either in conjunction with or to replace expensive MPLS connections. On average, these connections provide two to five times more bandwidth than similarly priced MPLS connections, directly contributing to return on investment for the SD-WAN appliance.

Improving reliability

SD-WAN enables traffic to flow over two or more independent circuits. Thus, IT organizations can diversify their WAN connections to ensure more reliable connectivity to their remote offices by contracting with more than one communications service provider. This can be a combination of traditional MPLS providers, cable companies and wireless firms. The intelligence of SD-WAN monitors the links and routes traffic over the most efficient one depending on pre-set policies.

Traffic identification and prioritization

Most organizations are rapidly moving away from hub-and-spoke WAN connections in which all traffic is backhauled to a central data center, and are moving toward direct point-to-point connections between remote offices and the fastest route to cloud or SaaS applications. SD-WAN enables IT organizations to set application- and user-driven policies about prioritization and security. It also identifies the traffic type coming to or from the branch and routes it directly to the correct data center.

Plug-and-play operability.

Most SD-WAN solutions are fairly easy to deploy at remote offices. The SD-WAN hardware appliance is typically shipped to the office, plugged into AC power and WAN connections, and then remotely configured by IT, a channel partner or a service provider. SD-WAN solutions should be easy to integrate with existing networking gear and network security products at the branch, but this also may require some work.

SD-WAN enables multi-cloud

Most IT organizations have a mix of internal data centers, applications in public clouds and users accessing SaaS applications. SD-WAN solutions have the ability to recognize and route cloud-based traffic flows.

Internal security

SD-WAN solutions can secure unreliable Internet links and identify traffic flows. Each SD-WAN supplier has unique methods for providing VPN, firewall, white listing, black listing, encryption, etc. When looking to add SD-WAN solutions to your business, they need to be interoperable with existing network security products such as next generation firewalls.

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