SASE (and the role of SD-WAN)

Our series to date has looked at the various features and benefits of SD-WAN and related considerations with adoption, deployment and operation. Increasingly however, many if not all SD-WAN discussions include a significant security element which in itself has taken on a new dynamic with recent changes to how we work and how we deploy network services. This focus on security can be seen across the industry as more and more partnerships and integrations between respective vendors and platforms are announced. Recognising this trend early, Gartner, in 2019, defined the Secure Access Service Edge and coined the term SASE (pronounced sassy) tying together SD-WAN, managed security and edge compute in a single architecture. The motivation for this as outlined by Gartner is straightforward: Digital transformation and adoption of mobile, cloud and edge deployment models fundamentally change network traffic patterns, rendering existing network and security models obsolete The change in network traffic patterns is essentially the inversion of network access requirements with more users, devices, applications, services and data now located outside of the enterprise than inside. Legacy networking and network security architectures were designed for a world that has been turned inside out with more user work performed off the enterprise network than on the enterprise network and more traffic from branch sites and remote offices heading to public clouds than to the enterprise HQ. The requirement to reduce both complexity and latency is driving the need to decrypt and inspect encrypted traffic once only. In turn this is increasing demand for consolidation of networking and security-as-a-service capabilities into a cloud-delivered secure access service edge. Secure access service edge...

Reasons to Use a Managed SD-WAN Service

In this  series to date we have talked about the drivers for SD-WAN, the main features and related benefits and also looked at how to overcome some of the more common obstacles with adoption and deployment. This week we will delve a little deeper into one of the main choices to be made when looking at SD-WAN deployment – whether to build and run the network in house (Self Managed) or if it is better to have a third party provide this on behalf of your company (Managed SD-WAN). But first a quick Recap: Digital transformation and the repositioning of business-critical applications to the cloud brings with it many network challenges for enterprises. As a result, the nature of the network is growing more complex for all enterprises. Among the biggest networking complaints is Quality of Service/Quality of Experience (QoS/QoE) with poorly performing applications such as UC disrupting business and giving rise to application performance and prioritisation requirements. SD-WAN has emerged as the go-to solution for re-architecting the enterprise network to overcome these challenges and  facilitate digital transformation objectives such as cloud migration. Key reasons for adopting SD-WAN include: Visibility of which applications, users or devices are consuming bandwidth Control over how application traffic flows are routed Applying policies to suit specific requirements and demands of the respective applications Resilience on an active-active basis across multiple links on a per application priority basis Secure sophisticated encryption to ensure the integrity of data on the network SD-WAN Deployment Choices There are many SD-WAN solutions and many go-to-market models. This had led many organisations to focus too heavily on trying to...

Overcoming SD-WAN Adoption Challenges and Deployment Issues

Due to developments such as ever-increasing numbers of business applications competing for network resources, growing network traffic demands and enhanced network flexibility requirements, the networking needs of organisations both public and private are becoming more and more complex. In particular, the problems organisations are facing with digital transformation and migration of critical applications to the cloud cannot be solved with legacy enterprise WAN solutions. SD-WAN has evolved to address those challenges. Most organisations are by now aware of the benefits that SD WAN delivers but as it is a new and rapidly evolving technology and often outside many organisations’ expertise, the practicalities often put deploying a solution on hold. The SD-WAN concept is simple in principle, i.e. deliver the optimum connectivity experience to sites, users and devices in accessing network resources and services unconstrained by access mode or location. However, successful SD-WAN project implementation throws up many challenges and gives rise to several considerations in deciding which products and service delivery models are best suited to an individual organisation’s business needs. SD-WAN Adoption While not universally applicable, SD-WAN can meet the changing requirement of most enterprise organisations as demands on the network grow. Key to a decision to adopt SD-WAN is a review of the business considerations that are driving the change and the focus should be on what problems and business outcomes is the SD-WAN platform expected to address. Considerations include: What is the organisation structure and footprint – are there several branch offices, sites and remote users accessing network resources? Is the business on or about to embark on a digital transformation? Are business critical applications and...

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 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 that...