Software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) solves a lot of common network headaches with centralized management and better performance. It also, in many cases, delivers cost savings and reduces travel time for technicians to branch locations, because all troubleshooting and maintenance are done at the central hub.
For some enterprises, SD-WAN seems a bit out of reach. When a hybrid wide area network (WAN) has been designed using the integration of multiple technologies, accessing various combinations of virtual private networks (VPNs), multi-protocol label switching (MPLS), point-to-point circuits, and other resources, the architecture is complex. Maintenance is highly important to make sure all systems are working in their proper order. Load testing (click to learn more about this) may be the best way in checking to see how they are all functioning within a system.
There are several common issues with this type of network solution:
- Wasted bandwidth: There are backup Internet circuits idling but available in the event of an MPLS failure
- Slow connections: Internet traffic must be backhauled over an MPLS link, back to the data center for a connection to the Internet
- Poor reporting: The combination of vendor and in-house systems makes it challenging to create unified reporting
Despite the complexity, SD-WAN is a good solution to these issues, because many vendors are recognizing the challenges hybrid environments present and are adapting the SD-WAN offering.
Overlays: A common feature of many SD-WAN architectures, an overlay approach becomes essential for applying SD-WAN to the hybrid network. An overlay creates a system of tunnels that run over the network and connect endpoints, determining how traffic can flow. An enterprise that has multiple transport types, including VPNs and MPLS, for example, will have multiple overlay tunnels, which SD-WAN uses to send traffic on a particular path.
Bandwidth as a commodity: With SD-WAN, bandwidth becomes a pool that the network can pull from to properly address the needs of data transmission. SD-WAN has the ability to choose which type of broadband to use, based on a large amount of data about each item, plus the characteristics of the tunnel it chooses. This allows the network to prioritize a virtual team holding a video conference over an employee playing Candy Crush on a mobile device, based on a set of policies programmed into the network.
Legacy protocols: In a complex hybrid enterprise environment, SD-WAN must work with legacy routing protocols. While SD-WAN providers are generally striving to include this technology in their offering, in many cases enterprises will need to work around the existing environment, creating workarounds or simplifications to gain the benefits of SD-WAN.
Wanify specializes in the simplifying of wide area networks. We optimize connection of multiple sites and cloud applications and provide your team with centralized control and visibility of your network. Contact us for more information.