SD-WAN is the new buzz word these days. Do you fully understand how it can positively impact your business?

Managed SD-WAN can bring benefits and increased uptime to your network, especially if you are utilizing cloud applications, IoT or taxing bandwidth solutions. SD-WAN represents a simplified, cost-effective and flexible alternative to traditional WAN solutions. It can bring unparalleled visibility across your WAN, optimal connectivity for end users and increased security to protect your network.

Even though SD-WAN has been the talk of the town, do you really understand what it is and how it can benefit your organization? In this blog post, we got with our experts to answer the most common questions we get about managed SD-WAN solutions.

What is SD-WAN?

Our most common questions we get is, what is SD-WAN? While SD-WAN is becoming more mainstream, there is still a lack of understanding of the main principals of SD-WAN. So, we will start from the beginning:

Managing and optimizing the Wide Area Network (WAN) has traditionally been hard for IT professionals. Connecting wide-spread branch locations and data centers with the same speeds and functionality was always a challenge, especially if you are purchasing from multiple vendors. Conventional routers were not cloud friendly and typically required backhauling traffic from branch offices to a hub or headquarters. This negatively impacted application performance, user experience and productivity.

SD-WAN is the application of software-defined networking (SDN) to WAN connections such as broadband internet, 4G, LTE or MPLS to connect enterprise networks over large geographical distances. SD-WAN has the ability to support multiple connection types at one time to dynamically share bandwidth across connection points. When traffic comes in, SD-WAN will determine optimal paths and steer traffic over them, regardless of connection type. This results in better connection utilization, optimized application performance, less blackouts / brownouts, and happy end users.

What is the difference between SD-WAN and managed SD-WAN?

Managed SD-WAN is also sometimes referred to as SD-WAN as a Service because a customer will turn to a managed service provider (MSP), like Magna5, to design, deploy, manage and monitor their SD-WAN solution.

The main benefit of managed SD-WAN is that customers can rely on a trusted advisor to ensure their SD-WAN is working as efficiently as possible. The customer gets 24/7/365 access to a dedicated team of certified professionals who are rooting for their success. They are with the customer every step of the way, keeping a watchful eye on network performance, day and night. The MSP acts as an extension of the customers internal team to fill skillset gaps. If an issue is to arise, they quickly respond and remediate to eliminate costly downtime situations. 

What about my MPLS?

MPLS is widely deployed globally due to its proven reliability, efficiently and security. It offers configuration-controlled methods to haul traffic over a pre-determined path between a branch office and an aggregation site, typically either a hub or a data center. However, MPLS architecture struggles with the agility required by traffic flowing to frequently changing destinations such as cloud-based applications or branch locations. MPLS is also an expensive service to use if you need to add bandwidth as you grow, limiting the ability to expand quickly and cost-effectively.  And, in most cases, you need to work with one carrier on your MPLS network, so your network has a single point of failure, and no redundancy.

Managed SD-WAN transforms low-cost broadband connections to be suitable for business-class traffic with technologies such as: per-packet forwarding, dynamic multi-path optimization, continuous monitoring, application steering, on-demand remediation, packet replication and dynamic jitter buffering. Managed SD-WAN does not demand an instant switchover from existing MPLS networks either. They can run parallel together or as an overlay on the legacy network to introduce application steering flexibility over an older infrastructure.

How do you deploy branch offices with managed SD-WAN?

Traditionally, interconnecting branch offices required costly links, multiple boxes and complicated network architectures. Managed SD-WAN removes the complexity by providing seamless branch office connectivity in minutes. With low-touch deployments, the managed service provider can have new offices up and running from a single remote point. SD-WAN will automatically detect the available links and start to steer traffic directly between source and destination to prioritize traffic and provide appropriate user experience. No onsite IT staff intervention needed.

Is managed SD-WAN secure?

Yes. SD-WAN can provide policy-driven network segmentation and security by user, data type or location from remote locations to the data center. Managed SD-WAN can secure traffic by isolating and segmenting across the WAN. A few of the use cases are: line of business separation by departments for audit purposes, user data separation (guest, PCI data, and employee traffic), overlapping IP addresses for different groups and VPN segmentation for off-network sites.

How does the cloud enhance SD-WAN?

Having your managed SD-WAN delivered by cloud can enhance your WAN architecture to deliver increased branch agility, simplicity and application performance for every location. When the cloud is your network, you can manage a secure WAN over any physical connectivity, without the headache of complex hardware configurations. A cloud-delivered SD-WAN additionally optimizes the delivery of traffic directly and efficiently to other cloud-based destinations by building software-defined encrypted tunnels when and where needed. It will then dynamically steer traffic and leverage cloud-based gateways to efficiently deliver traffic to its destination without jitter, latency and brownouts / blackouts.

If you need help optimizing network connections, contact Magna5 today. 

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