What is Software Defined Networking and how does it benefit my network?

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SD WAN is networking technology aimed at making the network as agile and flexible as a virtual server and storage infrastructure of a data center. More simply it is a method of leveraging the benefits of cloud, the bandwidth of broadband and existing WAN infrasructure to more efficiently and cost effectively transmit data from every location on the network by moving the brains out of the hardware and into the cloud.

 

Where a traditional network would use an appliance such as a firewall or load balancer an SDN deploys an application that uses a smart controller to manage data plane behavior. Applications talk to the controller and infrastructure as well as business applications can have multiple vendor providers meaning say goodbye to vendor lock in.

 

SD WAN offers compelling advantages for distributed organizations with critical branch operations, including agility, improved application performance and lower cost of bandwidth. The vast majority of wide area networks are carried over private MPLS and Metro E circuits which can be expensive to upgrade and are not always available in all markets and can take several months to deploy new circuits. Broadband Internet however tends to be available everywhere. In one form or another whether its wireless, DSL, Cable, Fiber etc most locations have access to some form of Internet. Traditionally broadband was not reliable enough and carried security concerns so it was only used as a back-up.  Software Defined Networking utilizes multiple available connections to find the optimal delivery path for traffic across the network, shaping the bandwidth as needed. SDN is not a catch all but it definitely changes that traditional problem and adds a hybrid option to private networks.

 

SD WAN allows for a hybrid network enabling enterprises to incorporate both private MPLS and broadband internet which can reduce costs. In an SD WAN network an edge device is deployed at the branch office (it can easily be done with a non-technical person) and it has dynamic multi-path optimization allowing it to aggregate multiple links such as cable, DSL, MPLS, 4G LTE etc) and steers traffic over the optimal links to other branch offices, data centers, HQs. It can also provide security and since the controller is cloud based you can control QOS (quality of service), real-time monitoring and analyze application performance. The SDN edge device can even bond multiple provider circuits to look like a single connection. 

 

All activation, configuration and ongoing management is handled in the cloud. Broadband circuits can be turned up much more quickly than metro E circuits and this also allows enterprises to connect offices in rural areas where traditional circuits are too expensive. SD WAN is easy to deploy, centrally managed and helps reduce infrastructure costs.

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SD-WAN offers enterprise-grade performance, security, visibility, and control over both public Internet and private networks. A software based approach enables network flexibility and portability. 

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