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Maximizing Performance and Reliability with Multi-Site SD-WAN
Multi-Site SD-WAN solves many challenges for businesses with numerous locations, data centers, and clouds. As more business processes rely on the cloud and more people work remotely, a fast and reliable connection is increasingly important. Businesses must also consider additional challenges, such as cyber threats, resiliency, and compliance.
This article defines SD-WAN and outlines the benefits of a multi-site SD-WAN deployment. If you have questions or are interested in a quote, please get in touch with Brightlio. We would love to hear from you.
Multi-Site SD-WAN: Introduction
An SD-WAN, or Software-Defined WAN, is a type of Wide Area Network (WAN) architecture that is becoming increasingly popular as more businesses need a reliable direct connection to the cloud and remote offices. The global SD-WAN market is expected to grow from $3.4 billion in 2022 to $13.7 billion in 2027, for a combined annual growth rate of 31.9%, according to “Markets and Markets.”
What is SD-WAN? SD-WAN is a virtual WAN architecture. It uses software to abstract the networking layer, allowing you to use different connection types interchangeably, including MPLS, broadband, dedicated internet access (DIA), and LTE.
SD-WAN reduces WAN costs by enabling customers to leverage public internet options rather than more expensive MPLS technology. SD-WAN pioneer, Cato Networks, estimates typical savings of 25% for customers that adopt SD-WAN instead of MPLS.
Additionally, SD-WAN provides a more flexible topology. In traditional WAN networks, traffic is backhauled to a headquarters or data center. For instance, a user at a remote branch connecting to the internet would be first routed to the headquarters. This routing topology adds significant traffic to the network and has the potential for performance degradation.
SD-WAN allows traffic to route by the best method possible without sacrificing security or performance. In the same example above, the user connecting to the internet could route out of a local broadband or LTE connection. This improved architecture is a potential game-changer for remote and home office network performance.
Use-Cases and Benefits of Multi-Site SD-WAN
SD-WAN adoption is up. So, why use SD-WAN? It’s a versatile technology that delivers many benefits for businesses needing a reliable connectivity solution. There are several use cases and benefits to consider. There are also a number of SD-WAN design considerations to explore. Let’s go deeper.
Did you know that 60% of corporate data is in the cloud? An SD-WAN architecture gives your organization access to cloud-based data and applications via a secure connection. You can also use your SD-WAN software overlay in the cloud for a cost-effective solution.
SD-WAN remains one of the safest ways to establish a direct connection between users and cloud-based resources.
SD-WAN solutions offer significant security benefits. When the tunneling protocol encapsulates data packets, it also adds a layer of encryption. This practice is similar to a VPN connection. It ensures that data is useless if malicious entities intercept it since they won’t have the encryption key.
You can also implement a security solution at the network level. You can configure the controller to block malicious IP addresses, add a firewall to your overlay, and invest in additional network monitoring tools.
Plus, unlike with MPLS or Multi-Protocol Label Switching, an SD-WAN network can inspect the traffic in transit and prevent malicious programs from spreading throughout your network.
Lowered WAN Costs
MPLS has been the best choice for customers needing a high-performance, reliable, and secure network. SD-WAN allows customers to take advantages of the benefits of MPLS, at a lower price point.
SD-WAN allows you to combine MPLS with lower-cost alternatives like broadband internet, 4G/5G, and fixed wireless. Alternatively, you can combine two lower-cost connectivity options together, and eliminate MPLS. In either topology, traffic is routed intelligently over the best path by the SD-WAN software. This allows your business to leverage lower-cost WAN circuits without sacrificing performance, reliability, or security.
A Centralized Model
SD-WAN is a popular multi-site connectivity solution because it uses a centralized model. Once you have connected multiple LANs to your SD-WAN architecture with edge devices, you can manage your network from a central location.
The SD-WAN model means you don’t have to route traffic to a centralized location, which would create significant congestion. However, you can implement traffic routing policies, security features, and more from a central location. This model simplifies network configuration and management for your IT team or vendor and reduces costs. Some providers also offer zero touch provisioning which lowers deployment costs.
With more than 27 million people primarily working from home, businesses need flexible connectivity solutions that can support multiple connecting types.
SD-WAN is a versatile connectivity model that can support public internet connections, mobile networks, fiber connections, and even satellite networks. It’s a plus for businesses that have employees working on the go or in remote areas.
Some applications need more bandwidth than others. Examples include VoIP, unified communications, video conferencing, and big data projects.
With an SD-WAN architecture, you can implement load-sharing policies to split traffic and manage high bandwidth loads. You can, for instance, prioritize voice and video traffic to deliver acceptable Quality of Service and optimize SD-WAN performance. Tunneling gives you the possibility to create optimized paths for designated applications. You can also use methods like caching at the network level to enhance speed for some applications.
Reliability and Resiliency
A virtual network overlay gives you better visibility over outages and allows you to take action fast. You can customize your overlay to include network monitoring tools and detect outages, packet loss, and other issues.
You can also add a switchover feature that will transfer traffic to a backup network in case of an outage or connect users to a backup server if your primary data center goes offline. Besides, managing several LANs from a centralized location facilitates implementing a company-wide backup solution for your valuable data.
Centralized Network Management
Multi-site organizations often can’t afford a dedicated IT team for each facility. With an SD-WAN architecture, each facility acts as a node that generates traffic and receives data.
The virtual overlay allows a single IT team or vendor to manage network configuration and security from a central location. There are no limits to this model. You can implement consistent security or load-sharing settings across all your sites with a global SD-WAN network, even if some of your facilities are in other countries.
Another benefit of a centralized architecture is that you can streamline security and compliance. As many businesses develop more advanced security and compliance plans, best practices can become complex.
With an SD-WAN architecture, you can incorporate tools that protect your data and stop threats at the network level instead of expecting each location to follow a set of corporate best practices that might be difficult to monitor.
Optimized Traffic Paths
Tunneling is another useful SD-WAN feature for businesses with multiple locations. A secure connection, or tunnel, is configured, which encapsulates IP traffic between sites. You can create an environment that facilitates communication and collaboration by using a tunneling protocol to establish optimized traffic paths with low latency between your different LANs.
There is an emerging school of thought around tunnel-free SD-WAN. This argues that tunnels add complexity and are difficult to scale. Adopting a tunnel-free architecture is possible and is an important design consideration.
Optimize Company-Wide Applications
SD-WAN works at the application level. It can help you optimize cloud and SaaS applications. Using Quality of Service, an SD-WAN solution will prioritize traffic globally based on preconfigured policies for each application. This greatly improves application performance, and simplifies the management of a global network.
Consistent Access to Resources
A multi-site SD-WAN ensures that all users have access to the same resources. Everyone can connect to your cloud-based apps, access your data storage solution, or benefit from your network-wide firewall.
Features like automated failover, dynamic link steering, or error packet correction can prevent connectivity issues and ensure that everyone across your organization has access to a fast and reliable connection.
The SD-WAN model allows you to add new LANs and users to your network. You can also deploy new network features or connect to new cloud resources as you grow.
Deployment is fast since it’s a software-based model. New facilities will only need an edge device to join your SD-WAN infrastructure.
Different SD-WAN Deployment Options
The main SD-WAN deployment types include DIY and managed. You can opt for a DIY model and leverage the public internet to have your network administrators design and deploy an SD-WAN network. Many firewall options, like Fortinet’s FortiGate solutions, include SD-WAN features. If FortiGate’s or comparable appliances are already in place at your office or colocation facility, the configuration is as simple as enabling the features. SD-WAN configuration does require engineering expertise, however.
You can also work with a managed service provider or company that offers SD-WAN As a Service. Some IT vendors offer SD-WAN Value Added Services along with cloud or VoIP solutions.
The level of service varies from one vendor to another. Some vendors use the public internet infrastructure, while others own a private network acting as your transfer network.
Discover Multi-Site SD-WAN Connectivity With Brightlio
An SD-WAN architecture allows for a high level of customization but designing and configuring your network can be complex. Brightlio’s “Pros and Cons of SD-WAN” explores SD-WAN further. If you’re new to WAN optimization technology or have questions, we would love to hear from you.
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