Features and Benefits of SD-WAN

In the first post in this series we looked at the various drivers for SD-WAN adoption and the factors that are influencing decisions that companies are taking as they move to take advantage of this new technology. But how exactly does SD-WAN address some of the requirements that we highlighted previously, what are the key features and ultimately what are the main benefits that an organisation adopting SD-WAN should expect to see? To begin with, we should acknowledge that there are many different SD-WAN solutions available in the market and while sometimes differing in terms of focus and terminology used, they are all aiming to address essentially the same demands from companies at the various stages of  digital transformation. While differences exist, there are a core set of capabilities and related benefits that leading SD-WAN solutions comprise as follows: Centralised Control At the core of an SD-WAN is a centralised control or Orchestration platform which provides the configuration and management of the SD-WAN. Centralised control is key in terms of realising the SDN principle of separation of the control and data planes, effectively abstracting the underlying connectivity regardless of type (fixed or wireless), removing any related dependencies that would otherwise exist and providing the freedom and flexibility to architect a set of virtual overlay connections in the manner best suited to business needs. It is these overlay connections or tunnels that then allow the SD-WAN to provide the required flexibility and visibility needed in modern networks. Packet Recognition and Steering The ability to recognise traffic on a per packet basis and to then steer this traffic across the preferred...

SD-WAN Drivers

This is the first of our new series of posts focussed on addressing the main questions we receive from customers about SD-WAN. Over the coming weeks we will address the most important reasons for choosing SD-WAN and the main considerations for deployment based on our own and customer experiences. To begin with, we look at what is motivating companies to choose SD-WAN. One of the main drivers for SD-WAN adoption today is the move to take advantage of cloud based services, both Software and Infrastructure as a service. Many companies both large and small have or are about to embark on a digital transformation journey and for most that means a very significant shift to cloud hosted applications and workload. What that also means however is that the traditional wide area network, commonly architected on a hub and spoke basis, is no longer  capable of dealing with the demands being placed on it. Failure to address this issue can result in poor application performance and a ultimately a poor user experience. The traditional network was designed to carry traffic from remote or branch locations back to a central site, a data centre or HQ, where applications were hosted or from where traffic could be safely forwarded. Modern environments place both applications and workload in many different locations meaning that the traditional network is no longer optimised to deal with the demand. Compounding this, the volume of applications in use is growing continuously and the requirement to optimise the network on a per application basis is therefore critical to meet the need of the modern enterprise. These fundamental changes mean...