SD-WAN: How to Improve Security & Performance

Who is this post for?

Are you an IT Professional responsible for managing and maintaining your organisation’s WAN? Are you a Business Leader who is interested in learning about the benefits of SD-WAN for your organisation? Are you interested in learning more about SD-WAN?

This blog post will give you some information about the current SD-WAN technologies in the market. It will also outline how SD-WAN can help to improve network performance, reduce costs, and improve security.


The Evolution of WAN & SD-WAN

The traditional WAN architecture is no longer enough to meet the demands of today’s businesses. With the rise of cloud computing, mobile workforces, and remote users, businesses need a more flexible and scalable networking solution.

SD-WAN (Software-Defined WAN) is a new networking architecture that uses software to control and optimize WAN traffic. This allows businesses to connect their sites and users more efficiently and securely, and to get the most out of their cloud applications.

This blog post will show what SD-WAN is, why it is important, how it works, and the benefits it can offer businesses.

So, if you are looking for a way to improve your WAN performance, security, application-aware routing and scalability, then SD-WAN is the solution for you. Read on to learn more!


Traditional WAN

Traditional WANs (Wide Area Networks) are typically built on a hub-and-spoke architecture. This means that there is a central hub, such as a data centre, that all the other sites connect to. The hub is responsible for routing traffic between the sites.

Traditional WANs are often built using leased lines or MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching) networks. Leased lines are dedicated connections that provide a guaranteed level of bandwidth. MPLS networks are more flexible than leased lines, but they do not provide the same level of guaranteed bandwidth.

Traditional WANs have several limitations. They can be expensive to build and maintain. They can also be difficult to scale, as you need to add more leased lines or MPLS circuits as your network grows.

Challenges of Traditional WANs

  • Complexity: Traditional WANs are often complex and difficult to manage. This is because they typically consist of a variety of different devices and technologies, each of which has its own set of configuration and routing requirements.
  • Cost: Traditional WANs can be expensive to implement and maintain. This is because they typically require dedicated circuits and leased lines, like MPLS which can be costly.
  • Performance: Traditional WANs can be slow and unreliable. This is because they are often limited by the bandwidth and latency of the underlying network infrastructure.
  • Security: Traditional WANs can be vulnerable to security threats. This is because they often rely on point-to-point connections, which can be easily compromised.
  • Scalability: Traditional WANs can be difficult to scale as the organization grows. This is because they typically require the addition of new hardware and software, which can be time-consuming and expensive.
  • Traffic Steering: With Traditional WANs there is no easy way to steer traffic based on application.


Introducing: SD-WAN

These challenges can make it difficult for businesses to get the most out of their WANs. In recent years, SD-WAN has emerged as a solution to many of the pain points associated with traditional WANs. SD-WAN is a software-defined approach to WAN networking that offers several benefits over traditional WANs, including:

  • Simplified management: SD-WAN can simplify the management of WANs by centralizing configuration and management tasks through an on-prem or cloud-based controller or orchestrator.
  • Agile: SD-WAN separates control from data by using a centralized controller to manage the network. The controller is responsible for routing traffic, enforcing policies, and monitoring the network. The data plane, on the other hand, is responsible for forwarding traffic between devices.
  • Reduced costs: SD-WAN can help to reduce WAN costs by optimizing the use of existing WAN links and by making it possible to use less expensive Internet links.
  • Improved performance: SD-WAN can improve the performance of WANs by dynamically routing traffic across multiple WAN links based on monitoring the link jitter and delay.
  • Application Visibility: SD-WAN can provide application-aware routing decisions like directing SaaS applications via local internet breakout circuits.
  • Enhanced Security: SD-WAN can enhance the security of WANs by encrypting traffic using IPSEC tunnels and by enforcing security policies.
  • Scalability: SD-WAN is scalable and can be easily scaled as the organization grows.

More Benefits of SD-WAN Solutions

  • There are many SD-WAN solutions in the market from a number of leading network vendors like Cisco, Aruba, Palo Alto, Fortinet, Versa – all of which can be adapted to suit your technical needs.
  • SD-WAN can be a great solution for businesses that are looking to reduce their OpEx by replacing their traditional MPLS circuits with much lower-cost Internet/DIA circuits.
  • Organisations with limited DC sizes can benefit from hosting the SD-WAN controllers at their public cloud subscriptions or at the SD-WAN vendor’s subscription if needed.
  • Most managed service providers can offer SD-WAN as a service which means they will provide the CPE, hosting the controllers and will manage the SD-WAN fabric for you.
  • SD-WAN functionality can be delivered via dedicated CPE hardware or integrated in your existing branch device router or firewall depending on the vendor offering.
  • Most SD-WAN vendors can be deployed with different architecture profiles such as full-mesh, hub and spoke or both.
  • SD-WAN can be deployed through zero touch provisioning (ZTP), which makes it easier and faster to deploy to many branch offices in a short period of time.
  • Most SD-WAN devices can allow user’s SaaS traffic to go directly to the cloud providers through the branch office local internet breakout instead of backhauling this traffic in the data centre which saves link bandwidth.


Final Thoughts

Traditional WANs are a tried-and-tested technology that can provide a reliable and secure connection between sites. However, they can be expensive to build and maintain, and they are not very agile. SD-WAN is a newer technology that is more agile and scalable, and it can provide better performance and security than traditional WANs.

If your business is looking for a way to improve its WAN performance, security, and scalability, then SD-WAN is the solution for you.


Usama – Senior Network Architect

Check out Opticore’s WAN & SD-WAN Solutions here.