What is a SD-WAN Provider?
SD-WAN providers Defined
Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN) is a technology that helps organizations reduce networking costs, improve network performance, streamline network management, and improve network reliability.
SD-WAN solutions use software-defined networking to route traffic across a vast area network more efficiently. SD-WAN technology also makes it possible to use inexpensive, commodity connections like fiber and DSL rather than relying solely on expensive MPLS lines to connect remote users, offices, and branches.
SD-WAN providers enable organizations to deploy SD-WAN technology. Solutions from SD-WAN providers vary significantly in the features they offer, how they are architected, how they are managed, and how they integrate with existing infrastructure. Some SD-WAN vendors focus narrowly on providing specific capabilities, while others offer comprehensive solutions.
What Do SD-WAN Providers Offer?
Solutions from SD-WAN providers may include:
- National or global SD-WAN connectivity
- Co-managed or fully managed services
- Services that support disaster recovery policies, complex routing, and large numbers of BYOD devices
- Support for IoT networks and devices
- SASE-based solutions with secure remote access
- Integration with platforms such as Microsoft Azure and Office 365
- Integration with security technologies and data loss prevention solutions
- Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that ensure a certain level of network performance and support services
SD-WAN providers typically offer a combination of features and services that may include:
- Zero-touch deployment. To simplify SD-WAN administration, providers may offer zero-touch deployment that enables new devices to be configured or updated without intervention from IT automatically.
- Centralized management. With centralized administration, network administrators can set policies once and have policies automatically applied across the organization. This allows policy updates to happen quickly while avoiding sending technicians on-site.
- Application-aware routing. SD-WAN services with application-aware routing ensure that business-critical functions receive priority and route traffic with optimal bandwidth and speed to each application.
- Automated link failover. When an internet link is unavailable or fails to meet performance requirements, automated link failover forwards traffic to the following best-performing link.
- WAN optimization. Technology that automatically balances loads and identifies performance issues helps to improve reliability and availability.
- Segmentation tools. Some SD-WAN providers offer tools for network segmentation and microsegmentation, helping to prevent lateral movement attacks within the network.
What’s Important in an SD-WAN Provider
In addition to specific features and technologies, organizations seeking an SD-WAN provider should also consider these essential capabilities.
An integrated security architecture
Many SD-WAN providers only offer networking capabilities and expect customers to integrate their security solutions. However, because integrating security is often the most challenging part of implementing SD-WAN, organizations should look for providers that deliver integrated security features as part of a complete SD-WAN solution.
Protection for cloud service data
Many SD-WAN providers need to offer tools that sufficiently control how users store and share data in cloud services. These capabilities are essential since direct-to-cloud connectivity is one of the most common factors in data breaches.
Monitoring of unauthorized cloud services
Studies show that 56 percent of employees use cloud services not distributed by their IT team – the business has no control over the data stored and shared on these platforms. Superior SD-WAN providers deliver solutions that offer visibility into all network activity, with capabilities for tracking all unauthorized use of cloud services to protect the business and drive more value from existing investments.
Real-time access control and network scanning
Because SD-WAN pushes security functions to the network edge, security teams need technology to scan traffic, manage access control, and prevent intrusions at each site.
Integrating Security into SD-WAN Implementation
Most SD-WAN providers offer technology to encrypt traffic as it crosses the internet. While this technology keeps data and communications between different sites private, it doesn’t make the sites themselves any more secure.
Superior SD-WAN providers offer security solutions that are fully distributed at each location, preventing attackers from gaining access to remote areas and controlling remote employees’ use of cloud services.
An integrated solution for SD-WAN technology should include the following:
- Network security. Next-generation firewalls (NGFWs) incorporate advanced intrusion prevention and anti-malware defenses that work across all ports and protocols. Superior SD-WAN security solutions will package SD-WAN networking and full NGFW or firewall-as-a-service (FWaaS) security in a single solution to minimize the complexity of provisioning, deploying, and managing SD-WAN firewall solutions.
SD-WAN forms the networking component of SASE through the use of the following:
- Web security. Secure Web Gateways (SWGs) can provide a range of security capabilities to defend against web-based threats. From web and URL filtering to data loss and malware prevention, SWGs help to protect remote sites and traffic traveling in direct-to-cloud connections.
- Cloud access security. Cloud Access Security Brokers (CASBs) deliver increased control and visibility over the use of cloud application services, enforcing data protection policies and automatically blocking, encrypting, or quarantining sensitive data within sanctioned cloud service applications.
Forcepoint: A Leading SD-WAN provider
Forcepoint FlexEdge Secure SD-WAN connects offices, branches, and remote sites to the cloud through a secure and reliable SD-WAN. Integrating application-centric SD-WAN with proven network security intrusion prevention technologies, Forcepoint SD-WAN simplifies connectivity and network security for branch offices and remote sites of all sizes.
A converged architecture allows businesses and government agencies to accelerate performance when accessing cloud applications, protect machine-to-machine communication between branches, and future-proof operations by transitioning to a SASE architecture.
FlexEdge Secure SD-WAN delivers all the networking and security functions to enable fast connectivity and simplified management.
- Zero-touch deployment simplifies the setup and management of SD-WAN at scale. Updates and upgrades can happen without needing staff to be on site.
- An innovative, resilient network keeps the hybrid workforce connected while automatically balancing loads and proactively pointing out performance issues before they interrupt productivity.
- Centralized management features include a single console where administrators can connect and protect branch offices and remote sites globally.
- Application-layer exfiltration protection automatically allows or blocks network traffic originating from specific applications and devices based on highly granular endpoint contextual data.
- Mixed broadband-MPLS connectivity enables direct-to-cloud links to be mixed with private MPLS circuits to deliver higher reliability and performance.
- FlexEdge Secure SD-WAN can be physically installed as an SD-WAN appliance, virtually spun up or down on demand, or integrated with AWS, Microsoft, and other cloud platforms.