SD-WAN Improves Network Visibility for Enhanced Performance

Enterprises are expanding their investments in cloud solutions, making it easier for employees to work anytime and from anywhere. Software as a service (SaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) are equipping enterprises with a full range of messaging, customer relationship management, database management, accounting, and collaboration tools. In order to support the necessary bandwidth and performance requirements, enterprises are turning to software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN).

Cloud platforms provide infrastructures that are virtually managed and on which operating systems, middleware, and applications can all be run. The benefits to this approach include scalability, security, and cost efficiency, but they can present a challenge when it comes to networking.

For a SaaS solution, enterprises enjoy a monthly subscription fee and pay for only the number of users they need at any given time. The difficulty for networking teams is that they have a high bandwidth demand, are sensitive to issues like latency and congestion, and have specific performance requirements. If the software is a communications solution, latency or congestion can cause critical problems with dropped calls or connectivity problems in video conferencing.

SD-WAN offers a flexible WAN, delivering bandwidth through a combination of broadband/internet, satellite, multi-protocol label switching (MPLS), and 4G/5G. It operates with a virtual overlay on the physical network and can be configured from a centralized management dashboard.

The greatest benefit to SD-WAN is the path optimization that fosters efficient management of the network. For instance, a videoconference can be prioritized over an email transmission according to business policy, sending the most critical traffic over prioritized pathways. In the event of latency or congestion, traffic can be rerouted to the next best pathway.

Enterprises are pushed to deliver an intelligent network or one in which bandwidth and resources are delivered at the best possible cost efficiency. There will always be a trade-off between costs and performance as well as how that performance impacts the end user. This highlights the importance of performance monitoring, a role that SD-WAN plays well for traffic management policies. Network functions can be remotely managed so that there are automatic adjustments to deliver the best possible performance for each application.  

In order to answer the demands of traffic and provision services by application, networks need application awareness and the ability to enforce corresponding policies. As enterprises expand their comfort and investment in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), they will be able to expand automated responses to traffic types.

While application awareness may seem like a relatively straightforward concept, there are significant challenges. Network teams see a continuing rise in the number of SaaS solutions being accessed, as well as changes in how they are being used, and the security complexity each introduces. Networks are also expanding to handle 5G and internet of things (IoT) devices, while also accommodating the need to phase out past SD-WAN policies built on old network data.

Enterprises are utilizing deep packet inspection (DPI) technology to analyze IP traffic using real-time, extracted content and metadata to classify applications. This allows for the network to utilize intelligence at both the application layer and the traffic layer to apply the right policies.

To learn more about how SD-WAN is benefitting from AI and ML technologies to deliver a cost-effective, high-performance networking solution, contact us at One Connect.