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Impact of SD-WAN Solutions on Networking and Security

by Grace

SD-WAN solutions can help improve network security. A good solution will include advanced features like a next-generation firewall, a security web gateway, and data encryption. Traditional architecture with conventional routers required backhauling traffic to centralized data centers for detailed security inspection. It often caused performance issues and lost productivity.

Security

Traditionally, WANs backhaul all traffic — including traffic destined for cloud applications — from branch offices to headquarters so it can be subjected to detailed security inspection. This approach introduces latency and impairs application performance, impacting productivity and reducing customer satisfaction. So what is sd-wan used for? With SD-WAN, network administrators can enable micro-segmentation to direct specific traffic on secure paths. It can help them protect sensitive information by directing high-priority traffic through tools such as firewalls and VPNs before it reaches the data center. Likewise, they can use security policies to route traffic between sites and prioritize critical applications so users have better connectivity and a more positive experience. SD-WAN can also support a secure local internet breakout for cloud access and reduce the cost of MPLS circuits by rerouting traffic to less expensive broadband or 4G LTE connections. In addition, it can accelerate zero-trust initiatives with CASB and NGFW controls in a single cloud-delivered service model. 

Scalability

One of the main concerns around SD-WAN is scalability. It is important that IT teams can grow their networks with a flexible architecture and that vendors provide the options to scale with their offerings. Centralized management and automation of the network is a key feature of SD-WAN that allows IT teams to enforce enterprise-level policies at the branch offices. Application optimization enables WAN traffic to behave more like LAN traffic, utilizing various techniques such as compression, caching, tokenization, and application proxies.

Using a dual connectivity strategy, SD-WAN can offload public Internet services while reserving private network capacity for business-critical applications. It increases WAN resilience by avoiding total transport links going out of service and provides sub-second failover to avoid interrupting business operations. Zero-touch provisioning allows IT to deploy new infrastructure at a site without disrupting existing access and applications. The resulting appliance can automatically connect to the network over existing WAN connections (or cellular connectivity as a backup option) and be configured to operate in the desired way.

Automation

Traditionally, organizations must deploy many standalone devices for WAN optimization and security at each branch location. SD-WAN decouples hardware from control, enabling network operations to be centralized and reducing the number of appliances. Rather than routing traffic to one route repeatedly, a business-driven SD-WAN routes on an application basis using dynamic best path selection. It increases agility and improves performance. This automation can also help enterprises save on operational costs, allowing them to use cheaper broadband links while providing high application performance and QoE levels. Moreover, it helps them avoid costly network downtime.

Unlike basic SD-WAN solutions, which typically direct traffic on an application basis down a single transport path and can take tens of seconds to failover, a business-driven solution will automatically redirect to other available courses. The result is consistent availability and business performance even during a complete outage or underperforming link. Achieving this requires a network architecture that includes a virtual overlay, centralized management and the abstraction of underlying public or private transport services such as MPLS, long-term evolution (LTE) and Internet broadband.

Cloud

Unlike traditional tunnel-based network architectures that increase bandwidth usage and decrease performance, SD-WAN solutions decouple networking hardware from its control function. This approach allows for greater automation, improves security and reduces operating costs. IT teams can centrally program policies that ensure optimal application performance with a single management console. These policies can automatically redirect traffic, boosting application performance and reducing latency. For example, the technology can send lower-priority data over cheaper public internet connections while reserving private links for mission-critical applications.

Additionally, SD-WAN enables enterprises to achieve transport independence and move away from costly MPLS circuits. The technology can also use wireless and 5G links as primary or backup connections. Lastly, SD-WAN helps organizations secure their connectivity by encrypting data. It makes sure that only parties with permission may access data sent across the WAN. It is especially important for businesses that use remote offices and work from home. Secure connectivity can prevent data breaches that would otherwise put company information at risk. In addition, it provides a safe way to access cloud apps and connect to data centers.

Integration

Network hardware and security services like CASB, FWaaS, and Zero Trust are linked through integrated SD-WAN into a single, software-delivered service paradigm. It allows for secure connectivity to critical apps over the internet and cloud. This integration also helps enterprises cut costs by reducing the need for MPLS circuits. IT teams can use a hybrid approach with MPLS and lower-cost links such as 5G or broadband to support business operations.

A basic SD-WAN solution steers traffic based on pre-programmed rules. But a business-driven SD-WAN monitors the network constantly and adapts in real-time to any changes, including congestion or transport outages. It ensures that users can always access applications without manual IT intervention. The centralized control of SD-WAN also simplifies turning up new connections to remote offices. IT staff can use a single appliance for all sites, minimizing hardware and installation costs. The devices communicate with each other via encrypted tunnels, so you can centrally manage networking and security policies from a single point. This approach also helps reduce the risk of data breaches and other security threats.

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