SD-WAN – An Integrator’s Perspective

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After being in the technology space for over twenty (20) years I would have witnessed many changes.  I must say that not all new technology has brought with it a significant impact.  Yes, with many new technologies there are benefits; for example, efficiency, reduction in costs, etc. There are some when implemented, they change the way that businesses operate and open an ecosystem for much more advancements and development of supporting solutions. I refer to these technologies as DISRUPTERS

My experience as a Network Integrator allows me the privilege of being able to identify some of the technologies that we can safely call disrupters. The one that I would like to speak about this week is Software-Defined – Wide Area Networking or as it’s called; SD-WAN. SD-WAN as a technology, since its inception a few years ago, has been very instrumental in transforming the way many companies operate. The purpose of this Blog is not to teach you about the technology but to share our perspective on how we see it adding value to businesses today and in the future.   Before we dive into it, let me give you an overview.

SD-WAN- A Brief Overview

In today’s business world, the expectation is agility. The use of Cloud and supporting technologies enables the average organization to shift their thinking from owing tons of physical Infrastructure to seeing everything as a service.  Small and large businesses are leveraging the use of virtual services as a critical weapon in their arsenal. This virtualization trend began with the reduction of physical servers and it’s what the industry coined Server Consolidation. This focus continued straight into the Networking area to support the virtualized servers; this spawned Software Defined Networking or SDN. Until that point, the virtualization of networking technologies was generally confined to the Local Area Network (LAN) or focused on data transmission within the walls of the organisation.   Then came SD-WAN.

SD-WAN plays in the same vein but it focuses on the external connectivity or the Wide Area Network (WAN); I.E. transmission of data across multiple sites or Branches. SD-WAN, like SDN demystifies the complexity and physical equipment that traditionally accompanied networking.  In my opinion, the technology has truly now taken a business-like approach and truly embodies what really matters to organisations; performance and service delivery.

An Integrators Perspective

As a company, we have designed and deployed SD-WAN configurations in a few orgainsations. We have been following the technology for a while.  there are many benefits that the industry may put out there in videos and white papers, but these are the ones that we have personally witnessed.

  1. Agility
    In today’s business landscape the success of the organization is directly linked to its ability to scale up and down as needed. In multi-site organizations, it is often difficult and expensive to add new locations.  This normally includes the need for complex and expensive routers and communications links, not forgetting lengthy configurations.  SD-WAN allows the business to add and remove sites by deploying the required devices and pushing the necessary configuration from a single management platform. This also reduces the management overhead; freeing up Technology staff to operate strategically.
  2. Increased Resiliency
    The traditional approach to WAN link redundancy at the Branch level is the use of different communication links. SD-WAN supports many links but allows the business to use both links for passing traffic; none are dormant until required.  This creates a situation where the Branch location can now increase available bandwidth while still addressing resiliency at the same time. A point to note is that there is no need for complex router configurations to make this possible.
  3. Cost Reduction
    Cost is a major concern in any business.  In the Telecom space, one high priority is the reduction of recurring costs such as communications links.  SD-WAN immediately addresses this concern by allowing businesses to use lower-cost links instead of expensive MPLS links. The type of links used are transparent to the platform and it provides the same service at a fraction of the cost.
  4. Increased Security
    SD-WAN addresses security concerns by utilizing industry-proven security technologies for example IPSEC.  The platform can also wrap or layer other security services, for example, Unified Threat Management (UTM) and Web filtering as part of the solution while maintaining the same physical footprint.
  5. Increased Application Performance
    The demand for cloud-based applications continues to grow worldwide. The use of the cloud has given organizations a certain degree of flexibility and freedom. We must acknowledge that access to the cloud means access to the Internet. As companies transition critical environments to the cloud, they create a degree of dependence on Internet access. Traditionally, providing access to applications over the Internet came with its own performance issues. Today with the use of SD-WAN, you can provide performance enhancements by logically connecting those cloud application environments to your network. You are also able to manage network latency and make decisions on link usage as well as prioritize traffic on the fly.
  6. Reduced Network Complexity and Administrative Overhead
    As business communication networks grow, so does the complexity and administrative overhead.  Imagine having to deploy 30 sites with each site requiring a router, VPN configuration and approximately 3000 lines of code. All with limited Technology staff while still managing day to day operations. SD-WAN platforms have eliminated this by removing the complexity and use of the older Command Line Interface (CLI). Most, if not all SD-WAN platforms have a central management platform. This facilitates the configuration and administration of the entire solution. The Technology Department can now focus on being strategic.

Some of the items mentioned above are the benefits of many other technologies that have evolved over the years. Some of these benefits may have been realised and some weren’t. Some of the above six (6) items and many others remain pain points for the average business owner or organisation. We are happy to say that we have seen firsthand that SD-WAN delivers on every one of the benefits identified above. The technology though developed a few years ago is still being adopted and matured worldwide. I strongly suggest that any business owner or organization that presently has multiple locations or are looking to go in this direction, look into this technology.  In my opinion, this is truly a DISRUPTER in the Networking Space….

For more information on SD-WAN as a technology you can look at the links below.  These links are not overly technical, and they show the business benefits of the technology.  Please note that these links are in no way advertisements for the vendors, but we think the content will really add value to persons trying to understand the concept behind the technology.

  1. Software Defined WAN (SD-WAN) explained https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2N7q1w26Mg
  2. What Is an SD-WAN? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Tv-Lf8_3NM
  3. Why SD-WAN https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzD9s53oMRg
  4. How Does SD-WAN Work https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gQKhSQ_ZofY
  5. What is SD-WAN say GOODBYE to MPLS, DMVPN, iWAN… w/ SDN, Cisco and Viptela https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isMnWZqAh0k

Give me a call @ 1(868)223-1576 or email me @ sheldon.paul@blunetworks-tt.com  if you need to understand more about SD-WAN can benefit your company.

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