What is SD-WAN and How Can It Help Your Business?

SD-WAN is helping businesses improve performance and security by transforming the way users connect to applications.

In the past, in order to get seamless connectivity, workplace IT teams used wide-area networks (or WAN) — a collection of local networks that communicate with each other. Today, however, many businesses are relying on the more advanced software-defined WAN (called SD-WAN for short) for better performance.

While traditional WANs based on standard routers worked well back when every application was hosted in an enterprise data center and traffic was routed more easily, these WANs were never designed for the cloud. They usually require backhauling all traffic (including the traffic destined for the cloud) from branch offices to a headquarters. Now that there’s a significant rise in applications sending information to the cloud, this process — which introduces latency and reduces application performance — can have a negative impact on business productivity.

Luckily, SD-WAN offers a solution to this problem. SD-WAN is a virtual WAN architecture that enables businesses to use any combination of transport services to create secure connections between users and applications. With SD-WAN, you get WAN simplification accompanied by bandwidth efficiency, lower costs, and better application performance — all without sacrificing your data privacy and security.

 

How Does SD-WAN Work?

With the changes to traffic patterns over the years as applications have moved to the cloud, WAN has become an unsuitable option. While WAN requires users to connect back to the data center to access their business applications, SD-WAN is application-aware and designed to fully support apps hosted on private or public clouds and SaaS services as well as in on-premise data centers.

Due to its design, SD-WAN can more intelligently route or steer traffic across the WAN based on the business requirements of the application, moving traffic to better, lower-cost network links as needed to increase data-transfer efficiency. With SD-WAN, every class of app gets the quality of service (QoS) and security enforcement it requires. That delivery is supported by SD-WAN’s centralized control function, which makes it easier to direct traffic and increase application performance. This is an improvement from the conventional router-centric model where the control function is distributed across devices — a model that is inefficient, rigid, and not cloud-friendly, resulting in a worse user experience.

Part of what makes SD-WAN so effective is that it leverages the key principles of Software Defined Networking (SDN), one of the most popular networking choices. SDN separates control functions from forwarding functions, centralizes management, and uses application-driven traffic routing policies to achieve more intelligent networking.

 

SD-WAN Use Cases: How It Can Help Your Business

If you’re looking to decrease latency and increase application performance, SD-WAN can be beneficial for your business. Here are a few of the specific use cases SD-WAN can help you with:

1. Managing network traffic with security and performance requirements that differ by application, location, and user

Centralized management is one of the key benefits of SD-WAN. With quality SD-WAN, like from industry leader Silver Peak, it’s easy to implement management policies based on specific business needs that will be applied to all of your devices. Any new or updated policies will also immediately be translated into operational rules that are downloaded to all your managed devices. This process is much faster and more consistent than the traditional approach of using a command line interface to configure individual devices, ensuring that all of your requirements are always met no matter which device is involved.

2. Connecting remote sites to the internet

Reliance on cloud-based applications is growing across businesses, making SD-WAN’s ability to simplify and accelerate the process of connecting remote/branch sites to the internet a massive asset. The truth is that small, remote sites need an SD-WAN solution that is both simple and affordable, addressing management and connectivity as well as security and ease of deployment.

With SD-WAN, you get always-on, reliable connectivity for cloud-based applications as well as data centers. You also get access to complete remote management — a process that can be even further simplified by working with a managed services provider (like TTI) that’s tied to your SD-WAN provider. Plus, SD-WAN can improve security for your connected sites and increase your bandwidth efficiency.

3. Establishing one-to-many connections of cloud applications to remote offices

Often, a single cloud-based application will be used by people at dozens of different locations. Using traditional methods, the process of setting up secure connections to all those user sites can be slow and error-prone. But with the centralized control and automation powers of SD-WAN, the process can be completed in minutes — all without sacrificing security or performance.

 

The Benefits of SD-WAN

There are many benefits of SD-WAN, but the top ones can be broken into two categories: performance and security.

Performance benefits

SD-WAN was built with agility and flexibility in mind — two features that significantly contribute to its performance benefits. Because SD-WAN enables policy-based routing and lets businesses leverage the best transport method for the job (whether it’s 5G, cable, xDSL, or another method), users can see significantly improved performance for cloud services as compared to WAN or MPLS.

SD-WAN’s advantages are particularly apparent when it comes to last mile performance. The same ability that lets SD-WAN use different transport methods allows for a more advanced approach to link-bonding that can have a serious impact on last-mile availability and resilience.

Security benefits

SD-WAN doesn’t just contribute to better performance — it also gives your security teams the agility and flexibility they need to respond to modern threats. In addition to the security provided by its traffic encryption, SD-WAN’s micro-segmentation lets administrators segment traffic according to network policies and application characteristics. This prevents any traffic that comes from less secure locations from compromising other segments that may contain more sensitive data. Plus, the threat intelligence features offered by the top SD-WAN providers make maintaining security even easier for admins.

 

Making the Most of SD-WAN

SD-WAN is transforming the ways users connect to applications. Though it can seem a little daunting, implementing SD-WAN and taking advantage of its many benefits can be hassle-free with the right partner. The best way to ensure you’re making the most of your SD-WAN solution is by working with the experts at Turn-key Technologies, Inc. (TTI) who can help roll out an industry-leading Silver Peak SD-WAN option for your business.

Reach out today to learn more about how SD-WAN can transform your business.

By Craig Badrick

August 10, 2021

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