What is a SD-WAN Service?
SD-WAN Services Defined
Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN) is a technology that improves performance of wide area networks and applications while reducing networking costs and simplifying network management. Using the principles of software-defined networking, an SD-WAN creates a virtual overlay on top of physical wide area networks, enabling organizations to incorporate low-cost commodity connections like fiber and DSL while automatically routing traffic across the network more efficiently.
Organizations may deploy and manage their own SD-WAN technology using physical or virtual appliances. Alternatively, they may choose an SD-WAN service – either a managed SD-WAN service or an SD-WAN as a service offering. With a managed SD-WAN service, an SD-WAN provider is responsible for deploying the hardware, software, networking and transport services, as well as the tasks of monitoring, managing and securing the SD-WAN to meet specific service level agreements for performance and uptime. With an SD-WAN software as a service offering, organizations may access SD-WAN technology via a SaaS delivery model from an SD-WAN vendor, and internal IT teams are responsible for monitoring, managing and securing the SD-WAN.
Why Choose SD-WAN?
SD-WAN technology offers a better way for organizations to connect multiple locations securely. Traditional Wide Area Networks (WANs) were built with Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) connections, an expensive technology that doesn’t adequately support today’s hybrid cloud and hybrid workforce environments. Most MPLS networks are built with a hub-and-spoke topology, where traffic from various locations must flow back through a central data center for security inspection. This is problematic for modern networks, where both workforces and IT environments are highly distributed. Backhauling data from far-flung locations adds considerable latency, increases costs and creates too much management complexity for IT teams.
In contrast, SD-WAN enables direct connections between users and the SaaS apps, cloud assets and IT resources they need, boosting performance for modern applications like Microsoft Office 365 and videoconferencing solutions. SD-WAN reduces costs by enabling the network to send traffic over inexpensive connections and by simplifying network management for IT teams. SD-WAN uses automation features to route traffic most efficiently and to ensure that more complex applications have the bandwidth they need to deliver the performance and high-quality experiences that users and organizations demand.
How SD-WAN Works
SD-WAN services and products create a virtual overlay of a network that abstracts the underlying network details and allows agnostic use of different types of connections. That means broadband and mobile networks can be used alongside standard MPLS to deliver more flexibility, availability and redundancy. A centralized controller orchestrates traffic across the network, choosing the fastest and most efficient path. SD-WAN services and products also typically include:
- Application-aware routing. SD-WANs can recognize the bandwidth needs of different applications and ensure that business-critical functions receive priority.
- Self-healing. SD-WAN solutions use continuous monitoring and self-learning to automatically respond in real time to any changes in the state of the network, routing traffic around bottlenecks or transport services that are experiencing problems.
- Centralized management. SD-WANs enable network administrators to set higher-level policies once and apply them automatically across the organization.
- Zero-touch provisioning. With an SD-WAN, administrators can connect new branches or remote locations in minutes or configure and update SD-WAN technology without requiring manual intervention or site visits.
Benefits of an SD-WAN Service
SD-WAN services offer several key benefits over SD-WAN systems deployed and managed by an in-house IT team.
SD-WAN “as a service” offerings enable IT teams to:
- Enjoy global reach. Providers of SD-WAN services often have globally distributed points of presence that reduce network latency for highly distributed workforces and cloud assets.
- Increase agility. Organizations using SD-WAN as a service have access to all the latest functionality while paying only for the features they use and services they consume.
- Easy deployment. Companies offering SD-WAN services already have an existing solution stack and can quickly deploy SD-WAN solutions for customers.
When choosing a managed SD-WAN service, organizations can also:
- Simplify management. With a managed SD-WAN service, the service provider is responsible for provisioning technology and managing all aspects of the network.
- Achieve greater performance and reliability. The SLAs that accompany managed SD-WAN services enable organizations to ensure a specific level of performance and reliability they may not be able to achieve with an on-premises deployment.
- Scale easily. Customers can easily modify network bandwidth to accommodate changing needs and take advantage of new opportunities.
SD-WAN Services from Forcepoint
As a leader in data and user cybersecurity, Forcepoint partners provide industry-leading SD-WAN services through FlexEdge Secure SD-WAN. Forcepoint SD-WAN services can be deployed in the cloud through integrations with AWS, Microsoft and others or deployed virtually with the ability to spin up or down on demand. Forcepoint can also protect branches, remote locations or data centers with physical appliances designed for security, availability and efficiency.
Forcepoint FlexEdge Secure SD-WAN provides:
- Centralized management in the cloud. Administrators can oversee and maintain up to 6,000 sites from the SD-WAN Management Center, managing and monitoring the entire network in real time.
- Dynamic path selection. Forcepoint’s SD-WAN services optimize application performance with advanced traffic routing, detailed application identification and dynamic link monitoring to ensure mission-critical applications receive the resources they need for optimal performance.
- Zero-touch deployment. Forcepoint’s cloud configuration makes it easy to deploy resources at any location while simplifying policy updates and software upgrades.
- Multi-link connectivity. Multi-link networking delivers the best performance while lowering SD-WAN costs by balancing ISP broadband and private MPLS lines.
- Application health monitoring. FlexEdge Secure SD-WAN identifies and resolves potential bottlenecks before they cause issues, directing traffic flows and prioritizing application traffic based on network performance.
- Integrated security architecture. FlexEdge integrates easily with Forcepoint NGFW to deliver exceptional SD-WAN security.