Aug 02, 2018

How SD-WAN Can Supercharge Your Datacenter Infrastructure

KAPIL P. BAWANE
SR. ENTERPRISE SOLUTIONS ARCHITECT

As businesses scale up, growing in size and spreading across geographies, new branch offices and data centers need to be added to their central network. This poses tremendous challenges to the decision makers if they have to rely on traditional hardware-based networking to manage the overall business growth and profitability. For example, traditional WANs are unable to cope up with the rate at which businesses scale. They are inflexible, have long change intervals and a non-resilient architecture. Moreover, as the network grows, the costs associated with bandwidth up gradation also go up multi-fold.

This is exactly why Software Defined WAN (SD-WAN) should be considered and by choosing the right vendor, growing enterprises can address most of these challenges.

What is SD-WAN?

SD-WAN is a specific way in which Software-Defined Networking (SDN) concept is applied to corporate WAN infrastructure. It virtualizes the network intelligence functions using software and cloud, and by decoupling the control mechanism from the hardware. It offers several advantages to businesses over the traditional networking models such as increased security & agility, minimum dependency on hardware reducing vendor lock-ins and reduced costs.

Here are a few ways in which SD-WAN solutions can supercharge your data center infrastructure:

Lower bandwidth costs

SD-WAN replaces high-cost and fragmented devices as well as infrastructure solutions offered by the traditional models with software-based programmable architecture that offers several key benefits. It also brings together MPLS, Internet and LTE cellular links to create high-speed and low cost aggregated network connections. This reduced reliance on expensive MPLS circuits and effective use of low cost internet connectivity can bring down the overall network configuration costs significantly.

Agility and efficiency

Since SD-WAN can combine multiple internet transport mechanisms from MPLS to broadband and 4G/LTE, an organization using this programmable architecture can add or remove bandwidth dynamically as per their needs. Through intelligent routing, SD-WAN can utilize the necessary bandwidth while ensuring sufficient availability for critical business and QoS-priority applications. This means a greater agility and flexibility over the traditional inflexible networking circuits and WAN router & firewall equipment.

Centralized networking and management

SD-WAN allows the IT complexity and network policy to be centralized at a handful of data centers or sites. WAN device configuration, monitoring and analysis too can be consolidated into one system to streamline network oversight, management & troubleshooting. Security infrastructure can be brought into specific data centers to simplify the WAN architecture, while virtual security services can be provided via cloud conduits or collapsed single appliance based WAN edge devices. With SD-WAN, centralized policy management too becomes a reality.

Enhanced security

SD-WAN provides consistent transport encryption and authentication irrespective of the underlying transport mechanism or the Service Provider networks being used. It improves network security by encrypting WAN traffic as it moves across different locations and data centers. It also segments the network so that in case of a breach, the damage is minimum. SD-WANs can provide constant visibility into the type and amount of traffic on a network to the administrators so that they can detect attacks more quickly and mitigate the ensuing damages & risks.

Scalability

As already mentioned, SD-WAN uses software-based controllers to decouple the network intelligence control mechanism from the underlying hardware that carries the data & application traffic, thus reducing the dependency on the hardware or the service provider/carrier capabilities. Moreover, the technology can utilize low-cost and instantly deployable X-86/ COTS hardware and hence eliminating the vendor lock-ins and simultaneously reduce spends on multiple equipment like router, firewall, etc., This allows rapid deployment of WAN services for a new site (branch or data center) instead of months in the traditional methods.

Service quality

Traditional MPLS-based circuits are not aware of the applications or their performance thresholds – they simply treat the data pipe as a bundle of various QoS pipes. This creates unpredictable and adverse impact on real-time and critical applications in case of soft failures or fluctuations. The SD-WAN technology makes use of dynamic routing based on the application performance requirement. This enables customers to monitor the circuits for congestion and take real-time routing decisions without affecting the application performance.

Clearly, the SD-WAN architecture offers several advantages over traditional networking paradigm for distributed organizations with multiple branches and data centers spread across the globe. This makes a compelling case for businesses to consider implementing SD-WAN solutions to supercharge their data center infrastructure.

Disclaimer: The information and views set out in these blogs are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official opinion of Microland Ltd.