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SD-WAN’s Part 2: Modern SD-WAN Configurations

Software Defined Wide Area Networks are an intrinsic element of many companies networking infrastructure. Think your business may need an SD-WAN, or looking to upgrade your current implementation? This article is Part 2 in our series on SD-WANs, and takes a look at some different SD-WAN configurations that may work for modern workplaces.

In Part 1, we covered the history of SD-WANs, how businesses have been experiencing changing network needs, and hinting at advanced solutions to solve these issues.

Last week, we closed off with a look at aggregated on-premise SD-WANs – software defined network routing available at the door of the business to allocate particular paid-for networks (such as cable lines, 4G, or different ISP services) to particular types of traffic within a business.

We noted that while this is a good option if most of your traffic occurs within the one site, it may not be ideal if you are moving towards cloud services, storing large data backups offsite (which you should be doing as part of your security plan!), expanding your business over different geographic locations, or need reliable, high-speed connections for interacting with clients.

SD-WAN past the door of the business

SD-WAN at the door of your business is a fairly easy task. You can even do this at multiple sites – however it only controls your outbound traffic at each site, and perhaps some inbound traffic with a clever packet-inspecting solution. This means you aren’t getting the real WAN experience, the one that can be offered with MPLS that we mentioned in part 1 of our series.

So here’s the question: How can you aggregate and tunnel networks so they work seamlessly across your sites, data centers you use, and cloud services?

One of the main drivers behind SD-WAN growth beyond the door is cloud services uptake.

RightScale’s Cloud Computing Trends: 2019 State of the Cloud Survey indicates that 84% of enterprises already have a multi-cloud strategy, with a continued shift towards public, rather than private cloud implementations. As businesses realise the cost effectiveness and in-built security of public cloud services, SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS from the likes of Microsoft and Amazon will continue to trend.

However, these cloud services are spread across the owner’s networks. How can you set availability and speed requirements on their end, too? This means SD-WAN vendors need to ensure their solutions are able to be integrated at the other end, too – at the cloud location/s – not just at your sites and off-site data centres.

SD-WAN for the cloud

SD-WAN providers have stepped up to ensure that their solutions work like SD-WAN at the door of your business on the cloud side.

For businesses that need most of their WAN traffic across sites accessing cloud services, there are cloud-enabled SD-WAN products, that provide an on-site solution, with SD-WAN cloud gateways that connect directly to cloud providers. This way both inbound and outbound traffic between sites and various public clouds can be managed.

For instance, Cisco, one of our partners, have a solution that does just this with AWS, one of the most popular cloud service providers.

SD-WAN for the cloud + between sites

What about if you have lots of inbound and outbound traffic that needs to not only work seamlessly with cloud service providers, but between sites, too?

If you’re needing seamless communications across sites, then you’ll need a solution that incorporates both SD-WAN for the cloud, along with something similar to MPLS for guaranteed routing between sites, for instance across a private fibre optic backbone.

Like MPLS, this will increase the cost of your SD-WAN service. Dedicated networking architecture, rather than just a series of gateways, costs more for vendors to offer.

There’s also the option to use MPLS between sites for a hybrid SD-WAN solution, if you’d like to keep using your existing MPLS connections.

SD-WAN needs to be secure

As we chatted about previously, MPLS VPN connections have been used previously due to both their guaranteed availability, but also due to their security.

Like MPLS networks, SD-WANs also need to be secure when transporting business data. This needs to be built into the solution, not an afterthought, or another layer over the top that needs implementing.

What does security look like for an SD-WAN? It means security across all capabilities: “Provisioning and orchestration, data-plane inspection and application categorization, access control and segmentation, privacy and encryption, user and identity management, visibility and monitoring and auditing.” (via SDxCentral)Vendors such as Fortinet offer secure solutions such as FortiGate Secure SD-WAN for inbuilt security into each of these aspects.

Next week in the series…

We’ll take a closer look at your business specifications and ask the question: Do you really need SD-WAN (and if so which one)? As always, A1 Technologies is here to help with all your networking needs, whether it’s choosing the right ISP, technology, or virtual technology to best fit your business. Contact us for more info or watch this space for our next SD-WAN special issue.

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