When to Consider SD WAN for Connectivity

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The enterprise network (WAN) has transitioned from dedicated TDM circuits with Frame Relay and ATM, to Packet-over-SONET, and now to MPLS and Ethernet-access services. However, two things have remained constant, WAN bandwidth can be expensive in certain rural markets and provisioning WAN services can take a long time. SD WANor Software Defined Wide Area Networking offers an alternative to these problems.

What is SD WAN?

Software defined networking works by allowing network administrators to use a controller architecture to create policy and allow the system to take action without explicit manual change control. The controller platform performs policy-based forwarding based on complete information about the current WAN conditions and the company’s application preferences. Global changes can be made immediately and simultaneously without manually logging into each router.

In simpler terms the brains of the network are in the cloud based controller accessible by web browser to administer changes to the end routers at each location.

That all sounds great but there are still potential flaws because rather than using a private network circuit such as MPLS or Ethernet, SD WAN uses your local internet connection and encrypts traffic to send over the network. Security is good because of encryption but it will never be as dependable and secure as private circuits. The good news is that Internet even in rural markets can be easier and cheaper to come by then MPLS or private fiber. So the question becomes when does it make sense to consider SD WAN over other technologies. We're not going to sell you hype and send you out to replace that solid performing MPLS network just because there is something new, but there are some situations where it makes a lot of sense.

Here are 3 good cases where it makes sense to consider SD WAN for connectivity


Rural Branch Office

Let's say for example you are a 10 branch bank with locations all over Idaho. Most of your branches are located in cities with lots of infrastructure and cheap fiber connectivity. However there are 2 locations in small rural towns served by mom & pop telecom. Today you serve that network with private MPLS that is secure and solid performing but those 2 locations cost 3 times what any other location does because mom & pop telecom charge an arm and a leg for the local loop end of the circuit. You want to deploy VoIP and new ERP software and determine you need to increase bandwidth to all the branches. Due to price compression most sites can be upgraded for minimal cost increases but those 2 other locations are just not cost justifiable to upgrade. Mom & Pop telecom can offer you 100mb Internet on fiber for pretty cheap and your carrier can give you a DSL circuit as well for backup. This is where SD WAN fits in. The carrier sends out a SDN router pre-configured to work with both the mom & pop fiber connection as well as the DSL. The carrier connects that to a controller in their cloud and also adds the service at your head end location in order to tie into the existing network. Suddenly you have 100mb connectivity across an encrypted tunnel using internet to get back to the corporate HQ. SD WAN is a good fit in this scenario because it allows you to upgrade a rural site to support all your applications without costing a fortune in backhaul charges.


Network backup - Business Continuity

Many companies already have deployed a solid ethernet or fiber network that meets the needs of the business. However when it comes to business continuity most companies have great intentions but very few have actually deployed a strong back up network because the cost is too high. Some hope to rely on a broadband internet circuit at the branch offices that requires a manual configuration in the local router to connect to should a backup be needed.


SD WAN can be deployed as as great backup network solution. The SD WAN router can be used to terminate both the MPLS and the broadband internet in the same router. The brains of the routing are done in the cloud allowing the controller to auto re-route traffic across a pre-configured encrypted tunnel using the broadband circuit if the MPLS fails. Instead of having an internet connection sitting idle as only a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency alternative, SD WAN technology load balances and fails over to the Internet when needed. Allowing the business to gleam more value from the back up circuit. This type of deployment creates true business continuity. SD WAN works well as an enhancement to MPLS rather than a replacement.


Simplify Retail locations

If you're business is growing and consistently opens new retail stores with fairly simple needs to connect to the corporate network for PCI traffic and VoIP connectivity SD WAN can be a fast and effective way to deploy wide area connectivity to multiple locations at a much more economical price than MPLS or Metro Ethernet.

Segmentation is essential to isolate different types of traffic while maintaining specific business policies, such as segmenting PCI traffic from corporate traffic and guest Internet traffic.

Using SD WAN retailers can enable the creation of separate and unique topologies and rules for each segment. For example Guest WiFi traffic can be directed to secure web gateway or firewall, while voice traffic between retail stores can be over a dynamic branch-to-branch secure link. PCI traffic can be isolated and directed to a payment card server. Deployment is further simplified by automating firewall and VPN rules per segment, applying individual security policies, and eliminating complex configuration for each segment. Moreover, the policies are applied automatically across the network and cloud.


 Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN) is a transformational approach to simplify branch office networking and assure optimal application performance. Provision branch offices faster with automated zero touch deployment, backup your existing private network using broadband internet and SD WAN's auto failover functionality and reach rural locations with fast reliable data connectivity while reducing costs. SD WAN is an exciting new technology with some strong use cases to improve and simplify your network.


To Learn more about SD WAN click here:  Learn More

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