Benefits of Modern Connectivity Options Over Traditional MPLS
By Wesam Hasan, Senior Network Engineer, Marcum Technology
When it comes to WAN modernization, the first thing that comes to mind is SDWAN. When challenges like high latency and poor application performance are encountered, the solution is SDWAN. The list of the issues SDWAN can resolve is long, as are the areas of the network infrastructure it can optimize.
What is SD-WAN? SD-WAN is a cutting-edge networking technology that enables organizations to build and manage their Wide Area Networks (WANs) in a more efficient and flexible manner. Unlike traditional WAN architectures, which rely heavily on dedicated hardware appliances and static configurations, SD-WAN leverages software-defined networking principles to centralize network control and automate network management.
The Marcum team has developed a framework for WAN modernization with SDWAN at its core. Here are some of the benefits that organizations can leverage when considering an SDWAN solution.
ENABLING DIGITAL TANSFORMATION
Traditional WAN infrastructures hinder the digital transformation process. That’s because traffic from remote sites and remote users is backhauled to data centers. The traffic is then sent to cloud applications or the internet. As a result, bandwidth bottlenecks and network device throughput issues become an obstacle in the data center. In addition, dynamic failover and uptime result in overcomplicated network designs, which can be difficult to support and maintain.
SDWAN is key for digital transformation. It can also be more effective when combined with a SASE solution to fully transform IT infrastructure.
By leveraging multiple network connections, including less expensive broadband links, organizations can significantly reduce their reliance on costly MPLS circuits. SDWAN also enables dynamic path selection based on real-time conditions, allowing traffic to be routed over the most cost-effective and reliable links.
In dynamic industries like healthcare or retail, you might see or hear that “it will take time to get a private link like MPLS/P2P to this new site.” That is true because, unlike broadband and DIA, private links can be challenging to reach in some geographical areas. With SDWAN that is no longer an issue, any link is a private link, and data is IPsec encrypted.
With a cloud orchestrated SDWAN solution, END-TO-END traffic visibility is provided by the SDWAN controllers, that can help IT staff to check and troubleshoot issues faster. Also, workflows can be built based on traffic visibility. SDWAN provides traffic flow, like application categorization and bandwidth utilization per application, which can help with future planning and with supplying security insights.
APPLICATION BASED FORWARDING AND QUALITY OF SERVICE
With policy-driven management, a software defined policy-based forwarding concept is applied where network policies can be easily defined and applied to different traffic types. Application-aware routing can intelligently identify and classify network traffic based on application signatures or traffic patterns. This application awareness allows for dynamic and optimized routing decisions that ensure critical applications receive priority and the best available network path.
Application prioritization at both the branch and the destination location, whether it is a cloud or on primes, can be conducted with the proper SDWAN design. QoS markings can be carried over and exchanged between locations when it is set per application or traffic flow. For example, two ISP connections in an active-active or active-passive design and combined with link monitoring can be used to dynamically failover traffic for critical applications if latency becomes high on the active/primary connection.
CLOUD ORCHESTRATION AND ZERO TOUCH PROVISIONING
Cloud orchestration in the context of SDWAN refers to the ability to automate and streamline the deployment, configuration, and management of SDWAN resources in cloud environments. It allows organizations to leverage cloud platforms to host and manage their SDWAN controllers, orchestrators, and other related components. With cloud orchestration, organizations can deploy and scale their SDWAN infrastructure more easily, take advantage of cloud-native features, and integrate SDWAN with other cloud services.
Zero Touch Provisioning (ZTP) is a key feature of SDWAN that enables the automated deployment and configuration of SDWAN devices without requiring manual intervention. It eliminates the need for on-site technicians to configure individual devices, making it easier and faster to deploy SDWAN infrastructure across multiple locations.
TRAFFIC CONTROL AND MULTIPOINT VPN DESIGN
By leveraging SDWAN’s traffic control capabilities and multipoint VPN design, organizations can optimize their network performance, improve application delivery, enhance security, and achieve greater flexibility in their wide area networks.
SDWAN supports a multipoint hub-and-spoke VPN architecture, where a central hub connects to multiple branch locations. This design provides centralized control and simplifies network management while ensuring secure communication between branches. Dynamic VPN tunnels allow for the establishment of dynamic VPN tunnels between branches, providing secure connectivity over public or private networks. These tunnels can be automatically created and managed based on network conditions, ensuring efficient and reliable connectivity. Scalability with SDWAN’s multipoint VPN design is highly scalable, enabling organizations to add new branch locations seamlessly without significant changes to the overall network architecture. This scalability supports business expansion and accommodates evolving network requirements. All of this is combined with enhanced security, multipoint VPNs in SDWAN solutions that often incorporate robust encryption protocols and security measures to protect data transmitted over the network. Traffic between branch locations is encrypted, ensuring confidentiality and integrity.
DESIGN SIMPLIFICATION AND AGILITY
Design simplification and agility are essential aspects of modern network architectures, including SDWAN. They streamline network design and operations while enabling organizations to respond quickly and effectively to changing business needs. With centralized management, network designs that centralize management and control help simplify operations. SDWAN, with its centralized controller and orchestrator, allows administrators to configure and manage network policies from a single point of control. Technologies like SDWAN abstract the underlying network infrastructure, hiding its complexity and providing a simplified interface for configuration and management. This simplifies network design and reduces the need for complex manual configurations. Automation plays a crucial role in simplifying network design. By automating repetitive tasks, organizations can reduce human errors, accelerate deployment, and free up resources for more strategic initiatives.
SDWAN and other software-defined networking technologies offer agility in deploying network infrastructure. With zero touch provisioning, organizations can quickly provision and configure network devices, enabling faster deployment across multiple locations. They also allow for dynamic resource allocation: SDWAN allows organizations to dynamically allocate network resources based on application requirements. This agility enables optimal performance and the efficient utilization of network resources.
EASE OF MANAGEMENT
Overall, the combination of centralized management, simplified configuration, automation, and policy-based management in SDWAN significantly reduces the complexity and effort involved in managing wide area networks, improving operational efficiency, and reducing administrative overhead.
HOW OUR CONSULTING ORGANIZATION CAN ASSIST
As a leading consulting organization, we understand that implementing SDWAN can be a complex undertaking. Our team of experienced network architects and engineers can help our customers navigate the SDWAN landscape, from initial planning and design to deployment and ongoing support. We offer the following services:
1. Assessment and Strategy
We perform a comprehensive assessment of the existing network infrastructure, identify pain points, and develop a tailored SDWAN strategy aligned with the organization’s goals and requirements.
2. Design and Deployment
Our experts design an optimized SDWAN architecture, considering factors such as network topology, security requirements, application performance, and business continuity. We ensure a seamless transition from the existing network to the SDWAN environment.
3. Vendor Selection
Selecting the right SDWAN vendor is crucial for a successful deployment. We assist our customers by evaluating vendors based on factors like technical capabilities, scalability, security features, interoperability, support and SLAs, and total cost of ownership. We conduct thorough assessments, facilitate proof-of-concept testing, and consider future proofing to ensure the chosen vendor aligns with the organization’s specific network requirements.