What are the benefits of implementing SD-WAN architecture, and how does this relate to the movement to the cloud?
What is SD-WAN architecture and what differentiates it from traditional WAN?
Software-defined wide area networks have revolutionized WAN architecture (click here to learn about the basics of WAN). Prior to today’s widespread movements towards SD-WAN architecture, the traditional, hub-and-spoke model seen below was commonly utilized.
Under the model above, the network’s data and associated management and security efforts are consolidated in a central “data center.” With this traditional model, if we are looking to move data from Google Cloud to AWS, this data first must be directed towards the data center and then redistributed to its final destination. This is inefficient as the distance to the data center and then to AWS is longer than going directly from Google Cloud to AWS. Under SD-WAN, each of the points of presence (PoPs), otherwise known as CloudHubs, are distributed in data centers around the world and are able to send data to each other without having to go through the center.
An example of this vast potential for connectivity can be seen below.
Put simply, an SD-WAN is a massive network that connects hardware in different locations. It allows for the use of various types of connections to be used in transporting said data, including private lines, multiprotocol label switching (MPLS), virtual private networks (VPN), LTE, and broadband internet. Unlike traditional WAN, SD-WAN can find the most efficient routes. Traditional WAN models make connection to corporate data centers, making the path that data travels less efficient.
Another architecture to consider is Hybrid WAN. To learn more, check out our blog post “SD-WAN vs. Hybrid WAN.”
Three Types of SD-WAN Architecture
There are three main types of SD-WAN architecture. Check out our deep dive in our blog post, “SD-WAN Architecture: Design Considerations for Performance and Security” for more detailed information.
Essentially, enterprises can apply on-premises SD-WAN, cloud-enabled SD-WAN, and cloud-enabled plus backbone SD-WAN.
- On-prem SD-WAN means that the SD-WAN functionality, installed using a plug-’n-play SD-WAN box, is installed onsite. This SD-WAN does not connect to any cloud gateways, but rather utilizes connections solely to company sites.
- The cloud-enabled SD-WAN configuration uses both hardware and software. They both utilize an onsite SD-WAN box which also connects to a virtual gateway. These gateways are networked to cloud providers such as Microsoft Office 365, Salesforce, AWS, Drop Box and Azure.
- The third type, cloud-enabled plus backbone, includes a backbone in order to eliminate the common issues associated with using the internet with SD-WAN. This type has an SD-WAN box that connects the enterprise’s premise to their cloud provider’s nearest network point of presence, or POP. From there, the traffic is redirected onto their cloud provider’s private, fiber optic network backbone. The use of the global, low-latency private backbone results in lower latency levels and minimizes the occurrence of packet loss and jitter.
In summary, different types of SD-WAN are differentiated by the degree to which it is kept on the cloud by the enterprise. All have benefits over older networking methods; however, the accelerated pace at which technologies are becoming “cloud native” is a factor to consider when evaluating architectures.
What advantages can be expected after adopting SD-WAN?
1. Cost savings average 25-50%
SD-WAN allows enterprises to cut network costs dramatically. Many enterprises see their costs decline by 25-50%, and some see even more drastic cuts when switching from more expensive methods such as pure MPLS. SD-WAN can do so first by eliminating the need for periodic expensive hardware upgrades and maintenance. Because SD-WAN architecture also results in lower latency and overall higher efficiency, it is attractive to enterprises looking to cut the costs of an inefficient network architecture. Finally, because SD-WAN allows hybrid models where data can be transported through MPLS, broadband internet, and VPN, data can be organized by priority through the most cost-effective pathways that fits the budget for each organization.
2. Increased visibility into the network using SD-WAN controllers
SD-WAN allows enterprises to unlock the ability to monitor the flow of data and constantly track key performance indicators, including latency, jitter, and packet loss. Any network abnormalities can be easily detected and investigated remotely. User experience improves as a result, as your enterprise can respond to issues rapidly and often pre-emptively. Most of SD-WAN platforms have ‘application aware routing’ capabilities, which requires the SD-WAN devices to perform deep-packet-inspection on the traffic. This capability results in additional security, analytics and insights into the types of traffic traversing the network.
Many companies employ their own versions of SD-WAN controllers in order to gain this visibility.
3. Higher Application performance, with connectivity improvements of 30% or more
Because of SD-WAN’s network efficiency, the application’s performance is also improved. Outdated technology is one of the main reasons that the performance of an enterprise’s application can be subpar. A revolutionizing aspect of SD-WAN is that the network can be easily scaled up to meet the enterprise’s demands as it grows. With SD-WAN, there is more flexibility to work towards boosting your application’s performance as technology rapidly evolves. This allows the enterprise to set goals, such as handling higher consumer demand, and have the infrastructure to support them. As the enterprise scales up, it will experience higher user traffic, and SD-WAN intelligently routes this user traffic. Other goals may include improving user experience by reducing latency and increasing application speed, juggling a higher number of applications, or generally seeking to streamline the process.
On average, customers moving from MPLS into the cloud using an SD-WAN management platform see connectivity improvements of 30%. Learn more with a case study here.
The benefits of SD-WAN are maximized when the SD-WAN service is built for your organization’s goals. If you are planning on joining the movements towards the cloud in the near future, then pursuing an SD-WAN architecture that is aligned with this priority is vital.
The Apcela Arcus Platform is a service that enables enterprises to transition their existing WAN towards an SD-WAN architecture while maintaining on-ramps to SaaS and IaaS applications in the cloud, as well as overlaying security and intelligence stacks. It allows for the seamless integration of core data centers, regional offices and remote users.
Apcela’s Arcus Platform has three primary components:
- The base of the Arcus Platform is Arcus Connect. It consists of Apcela’s cloud-connected, private backbone complete with SD-WAN overlay that allows for intelligent routing and high speeds. In other words, Arcus utilizes SD-WAN to optimize multi-cloud connectivity. This is truly an instance of WAN built FOR the cloud, and this level of integration highlights the benefits listed above that SD-WAN can provide to an enterprise’s entire organization.
- Networking and Security needs to be more integrated than ever before, and Arcus Connect and Arcus Secure work hand in hand in order to distribute security to the edge. It lifts the security stack, which traditionally sits at the data center, and shift to the cloud without the need for an entire system overhaul. Apcela’s security platform includes Intrusion Detection and Protection Systems (IDS/IPS), Secure Web Gateways (SWG) and Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASB).
- The top layer of Arcus is where the power of automation and network visibility goes beyond basic management to help truly transform enterprises. A wealth of information is available at your fingertips with Apcela’s customer portal. Customers can easily access latency performance metrics, device monitoring, and more.
Apcela has the expertise to help you transition your cloud infrastructure securely and efficiently. Contact us to learn more.