SD-WAN solution - 10 features that you should look for - Tech.in | 5G, SDN/NFV & MEC

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Wednesday, January 9, 2019

SD-WAN solution - 10 features that you should look for

SD-WAN solutions are available in plenty in the market today - both from SD-WAN startups and established vendors. SD-WAN solutions are expected to reduce costs, improve efficiencies and reduce time taken for service activation. Service providers are now convinced about the need for SD-WAN solution. If you are new to the SD-WAN world and confused about the SD-WAN options available in the market, here are some features that you should look for in a SD-WAN solution.




1. Core MPLS Support - Core MPLS support would enable the SD-WAN solution to interoperate with legacy MPLS networks. This would allow the Enterprise to have service continuity, as well as provide flexibility during the transition to SD-WAN. Enterprises can route the traffic generated by sensitive/critical business applications over the MPLS link and route the other non-critical traffic over the SD-WAN link. (Read: Will 5G accelerate SD-WAN adoption?)

2. Security / E2E Encryption - This is a mandatory feature, as it provides security for the traffic that gets exchanged over the SD-WAN links. Given that SD-WAN is a OTT (Over the Top) service, E2E encryption / security is a must to protect the information exchanged over the Internet.

3. Local Internet Offload / Breakout - Local Internet Offload allows Enterprises to offload Internet traffic (such as accesses to Youtube.com, Facebook.com, CNN.com), so that they don't get carried over the SD-WAN links.  Also, many Enterprises have migrated to SaaS offerings from the Cloud, which are delivered over a HTTPS connection. Such connections can be directly routed over the Internet as opposed to carrying such traffic over the SD-WAN link to the corporate head-quarters. Some SD-WAN vendors also allow Enterprises to apply security policies over the traffic that goes through the Local Internet Breakout. Untrusted / Suspicious and Unknown traffic gets routed to the headquarters over the SD-WAN links.

4. Dynamic Routing - If you are installing SD-WAN solution in a simple coffee shop, you may not have to depend too much on Dynamic Routing. You can meet most of your routing needs using static routes. However, if it is a medium sized Enterprise with multiple subnets and if you require the SD-WAN solution to interoperate with your existing network, you would need Dynamic Routing support. Dynamic Routing is achieved through the support of protocols such as BGP and OSPF in SD-WAN solution.

5. Load Balancing - Most SD-WAN solutions in the market today support multiple upstream Internet links. If you want to distribute the load across multiple Internet links, you can use the Load Balancing feature. Load-Balancing can also be used to achieve service resiliency and high availability - when an SD-WAN link goes down, traffic can be automatically routed through the Internet or MPLS link.

6. Zero Touch Automation (ZTA) - One of the key differentiators of a SD-WAN solution is the zero touch automation / activation of the network services. Different SD-WAN vendors have different ways of supporting ZTA. MEC has recently published a standard for SD-WAN services, which also covers the expectations around ZTA.

7. Managed Services - Many Small / Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) have outsourced their WAN and IT infrastructure management to service providers. As SMEs can't afford to have dedicated IT personnel, they seek managed services.

8. Orchestration - As SD-WAN services follow SDN principles, the control plane, management plane and data plane functions are normally separated. For example, the control/management plane functions may be running on the service provider cloud and data plane functions may be running on the premise.  Orchestration of network services become very critical - stitching the control, management and data plane functions.

9. Analytics - SD-WAN solutions continuously gather analytics for understanding vital network parameters such as network utilization, network availability and network performance. Analytics gathered is used for optimizing the network services for the customer. It also helps the customer with the capacity planning.

10. WAN Optimization - Some SD-WAN vendors also bundle WAN optimization services as part of their SD-WAN solution. It helps the Enterprise to improve the network utilization and thereby helps them to achieve efficiencies.

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