Today’s workforce has grown increasingly mobile, and more business-critical applications are running over the Internet across multiple clouds. Traditional WAN architectures cannot keep pace with these changes due to paucity in bandwidth, limited security, and increased complexity, all of which prevent IT from responding to business needs faster.
Many organisations today still use traditional WAN solutions, that often incorporate a hybrid of public and leased lines. MPLS, a traditional WAN connectivity method, is used to assign preference based on SLA guarantees, and determine timelines for delivery of traffic. This becomes especially important, particularly for voice and video-based applications. In addition, traditional WAN leverages internet-based backup as a secondary transport should the primary path become unavailable. However, an influx of data and devices are pushing the limits of traditional WAN architectures, making it nearly impossible for networks to keep up. even as IT departments are trying to increase bandwidth and improve connectivity.
Using traditional WAN may come with a set of challenges as listed below:
- Potential loss of multiple seconds of an outage, resulting in dropped or lost video or phones calls during a failover to switch to a standby server or system when the primary application goes down – this is due to complete dependency upon the state of the link (up/down) and on routing protocol re-convergence, during the failover.
- A traditional WAN has typically templated configuration that distributed and is locally housed on each individual router.
- In case of changes in policies, the administrator has to touch and manage it on a per-device basis and require your administrator to touch each individual device as policies change.
- New site turn-up time can take on months due to complexities of change management and project coordination – This includes the time for circuit delivery, equipment provisioning, and other change management.
Given the above, today’s businesses require a new approach to networking and security. Harnessing the power of software-defined networking on the WAN can help businesses improve performance, reduce costs, and enable robust security.
Cisco SD-WAN is a shift in the way a Wide Area Network is deployed and managed. As its name implies, SD-WAN is a software-driven technology with application awareness that is managed from a centralized point in the network. It is a cloud-scale, software-driven architecture that routes traffic around problems, ensures application performance, and adapts to changing conditions without any direct intervention. Enabling applications with consistent predictable performance, SD-WAN helps to optimize your WAN providing better user experiences over the cloud. Offering a complete SD-WAN fabric with centralized management and security built-in, it creates a secure overlay WAN architecture across campus areas, data center and multi cloud applications.
It is a secure, cloud-scale architecture that is open, programmable, and scalable. Through the Cisco vManage console, businesses can quickly establish an SD-WAN overlay fabric to connect data centers, branches, campuses, and colocation facilities to improve network speed, security, and efficiency.
Why Cisco SD-WAN?
Today networks have to work harder than ever to deliver the required user experiences over the cloud. With Cisco SD-WAN, businesses can enable applications in minutes, on any platform, with consistent, predictable performance. SD-WAN helps optimize a wide area network, which means better experiences for customers and employees.
In a single overlay that extends to the data center, cloud, and branch locations, Cisco SD-WAN optimizes software-as-a-service (SaaS) performance for Office 365, Salesforce, and other cloud-based apps. It also delivers seamless connectivity to the public cloud to simplify workflows for Amazon Web Services (AWS), Azure, and more—including application-aware policies that allow real-time policy enforcement for cloud and on-premises solutions.
The solution offers faster, easier deployments and operations, as well as better performance. Now you can get more bandwidth for less cost. Centralized management and built-in automation simplify workflows to increase efficiencies even further. IDC found that enterprises got an average 33% more efficiency in WAN management with Cisco SD-WAN.
Cisco SD-WAN provides a robust security architecture to connect users to applications with best-in-class security deployment models combining branch edge and cloud edge.Single cloud management of networking policies and security policies simplifies deployment and helps make protection more pervasive. Business-critical assets are isolated and protected at all times because threat defences are embedded at important points in the network infrastructure, from branch to cloud.
Managing hundreds and thousands of branch locations has always been a major challenge with traditional WAN architectures—especially since they were previously managed on a per-device basis with separate networks on MPLS and broadband. This complexity made consistent policy seem like a distant goal, made even more unattainable when a policy change needed to be rolled out across all sites. SD-WAN makes consistent policy not only possible but seamless.
SD-WAN simplifies network management. With a single WAN fabric, all policies and configurations can be centrally managed, even across multicloud environments. The outcome is true simplicity at an enterprise scale. APIs enable IT to seamlessly integrate existing operations environment with Cisco SD-WAN while also allowing a high level of flexibility to deliver capabilities that might not be available within Cisco vManage. IDC found that enterprises had a 58% reduced implementation time for new policies and configurations with Cisco SD-WAN.
Features and benefits of Cisco SD-WAN
Full SD-WAN feature stack with unified communications – The solution provides sophisticated control of the network with a set of features for routing, unified communications, multicloud, security, and centralized policy control and management.
- Multicloud choice and control – Enables a range of optimization for multicloud applications using Cloud OnRamp architecture. It optimizes major software as a service (SaaS) applications and workflow integrations to major public clouds and collocation providers.
- Security that is built-in, not bolted on – Enables centralized security policies and provides segmentation across the entire network and a full security stack either on-premise or in the Cisco Umbrella cloud. Instantly deploy the right security in the right place, all from a single dashboard.
- Visibility and analytics – Centralizes management to make it easy to deploy SD-WAN and security while maintaining policy across thousands of sites.
- Maximum choice and control – Offers flexibility with a cloud-first architecture to connect any user to any application, across any cloud.
Cisco offers a comprehensive network solution that includes SD-WAN along with powerful security architecture and the ability for businesses to scale at their own pace. Cisco SD-WAN solutions integrate cloud optimization, security, and advanced analytics to transform enterprises for digital and cloud.
SD-WAN delivers rich benefits as far as costs, security, and simplicity. But the key to a successful SD-WAN transformation is to put the right focus on the initial setup and transition of the first 5 to 10 sites. And then to expand SD-WAN across the rest of the enterprise rapidly. This is where services from Cisco Customer Experience are able to deliver the biggest value.
Drawing from the best practices of successful deployments from numerous enterprises, ranging from simple to complex, the Cisco Customer Experience team’s focus is to make the transformation smooth and avoid major hurdles.