SD-WAN offers WAN optimization, security, and performance capabilities that IT teams need to enable business productivity. Kentik enables NetOps to gain WAN overlay, underlay, and application traffic visibility with a single unified SD-WAN client.

A basic SD-WAN solution can identify applications and automatically steer them over a high-performing link while failing to a backup when the primary path experiences congestion or an outage. It boosts application performance and provides consistent QoE.

Multi-Circuit Routing

An SD-WAN ensures consistent application performance, automates traffic steering based on business intent, and improves network security. It enables small businesses to connect to the cloud with improved application performance and high-quality user experience while reducing IT costs.

Traditionally, WANs were built with MPLS circuits between branches and headquarters. These circuits were expensive, lacked bandwidth efficiency, and introduced latency that impaired application performance. An SD-WAN can replace these expensive connections with affordable Internet broadband or wireless WAN (Wi-Fi, 4G) links to simplify infrastructure and lower costs. It can also use multiple links to combine into a single logical connection for increased reliability and capacity.

The basics of SD-WAN typically classify applications using fixed definitions and manual ACL scripts. For example, a more sophisticated solution called an AI-driven SD-WAN monitors each session’s performance on a Microsoft Teams video call. It automatically adjusts to ensure a high-quality user experience.

An AI-driven SD-WAN can manage firewalls, routers, routing, WAN optimization, and visibility functions from a central management interface. It simplifies infrastructure, reduces deployment times, and minimizes human error. It can also help enterprises that migrate from an MPLS to an SD-WAN solution avoid costly termination fees and minimum commitment clauses. It can also provide a smoother on-ramp to the cloud with enhanced application performance, bandwidth efficiency, and secure connectivity to public and private clouds.

Policy-Based Routing

Unlike traditional WANs, where network engineers manually program edge routers with routing protocols, SD-WAN simplifies control and management through a centralized controller. From this single interface, networks can allocate paths to applications based on criticality and flex bandwidth based on availability. It reduces complexity and makes it easier for NetOps teams to change networking policies as business needs evolve.

A basic SD-WAN solution directs traffic based on applications down a single path. It only uses an alternative route if the first path has congestion or performance issues. However, a business-driven SD-WAN will continuously monitor all underlay transport services and automatically respond in real time to any changes, ensuring optimal application performance.

It is possible by utilizing continuous self-learning and a unique technique called micro-segmentation, which separates and organizes different data types. IT staff can then ensure that high-priority data travels on a dedicated link while lower-priority data flows over multiple links to improve performance and reduce costs.

This capability also provides cost-efficient connectivity to the cloud and remote work sites, replacing expensive MPLS connections with affordable broadband Internet and leveraging multiple links to improve last-mile availability. With the addition of a secure global private backbone, SD-WAN solutions can combine multiple local Internet connections to reliably connect a branch to its nearest point-of-presence (PoP) and then leverage the PoP’s high-speed, redundant, global private infrastructure for tier 1 connectivity.

Load Balancing

For decades, traditional WANs have used load balancing, WAN optimization, and disaster recovery features to enable connectivity and network performance across multiple locations and users. However, implementing these capabilities on the vast area network (WAN) can be expensive and time-consuming.

SD-WAN provides a more efficient alternative to traditional MPLS networks. Businesses can reduce circuit costs by leveraging the internet, wireless WAN (4G/5G), broadband, or virtual private network (VPN) connections to connect remote sites and branch offices while delivering improved application performance.

With SD-WAN, an ingenious hybrid WAN can be quickly deployed, and traffic is dynamically routed using the best possible path based on business requirements. It eliminates the need for backhauling traffic between branches and central data centers, which adds latency to applications and increases network costs.

In addition, with a centralized management control function, deploying new firewalls, routers, or virtual private network (VPN) connections is easier and faster. A centralized management platform also helps minimize human error, which can compromise application performance and security. It is crucial as enterprises move more and more of their workloads to the cloud, which often requires network configuration changes that simultaneously impact multiple devices and applications. An SD-WAN solution can handle these changes via a centralized management interface. It helps to ensure that business-critical applications get the best performance and are not impacted by changes in other parts of the network.

WAN Optimization

An effective SD-WAN provides business-driven network intelligence, automation, security, performance, and flexibility. It combines network capabilities such as resiliency, QoS, load balancing, and bandwidth prioritization into a single management interface. It enables IT teams to make more informed decisions about their network and applications, which improves agility and lowers costs across the enterprise.

The SD-WAN architecture creates a virtual overlay that abstracts underlying private or public WAN connections such as Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), internet broadband, fiber, LTE, and wireless. It allows IT to use existing networking investments but centralizes network control and enables real-time application traffic management across these links. It also enables businesses to leverage low-cost, broadband internet for lower-cost connectivity and more efficient MPLS circuits for higher-priority applications.

In addition, an effective SD-WAN encrypts traffic across the entire network, protecting data from cyber threats as it travels between sites or to cloud/SaaS applications. It helps reduce data loss and ensures that only authorized IT staff can access company information.

Lastly, an SD-WAN optimizes the network by shifting traffic to less congested pathways to boost application performance and ensure critical applications always have an active uplink. It enables the business to avoid expensive MPLS circuit downtime, which can lead to loss of productivity and revenue. It also reduces dependency on costly, leased MPLS circuits by providing redundancy and automatically shifting data to another path if one fails.