What is a SD-WAN Solution?
SD-WAN Solutions Defined
Software-Defined Wide-Area Network (SD-WAN) technology offers a superior way to securely connect multiple locations in a wide area network. Traditional WAN architecture uses a hub-and-spoke model, where traffic is backhauled from local outlets to a central data center for security inspection over Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) connections.
However, MPLS was not designed with modern connectivity requirements in mind and is a slow and expensive way to connect local branches, introducing unacceptable delays and bottlenecks. In contrast, SD-WAN solutions connect individual branches directly to the internet using a variety of low-cost broadband services while managing the network and traffic from a central location. By flexibly managing capacity and performance and routing traffic over the most efficient links, SD-WAN technology helps reduce costs, improve performance, streamline management and enhance network reliability.
Elements of an SD-WAN Solution
An SD-WAN solution applies software-defined networking principles to the wide area network. Rather than relying on legacy routers and expensive MPLS connections, SD-WAN technology abstracts the control of networking technology to simplify management and improve service. SD-WAN appliances in each location can be managed from a central SD-WAN controller, minimizing the need to manage individual gateways and routers.
Elements of an SD-WAN solution include:
- Flexible connectivity. SD-WAN solutions enable organizations to use a variety of connection types, including low-cost, commodity broadband internet, LTE, fiber and DSL connections to reduce the cost of connectivity. This increases network bandwidth, improves performance and heightens redundancy. By minimizing latency, increasing throughput and enhancing reliability, SD-WAN enables flexible connectivity that ensures the most efficient use of bandwidth between sites and the data center. This feature better supports the hybrid workforce, where users can access network resources and cloud applications using any device with an internet connection.
- Application-aware routing. Application-aware routing ensures that mission-critical applications have the bandwidth they need to perform without latency or packet loss.
Advantages of SD-WAN Architecture
The benefits of an SD-WAN solution include:
- Better application experiences. SD-WAN technology makes sure that apps get the bandwidth, QoS and security they need.
- Easier management. Administrators can manage each SD-WAN appliance centrally, creating and updating security rules in real time as requirements change and threats evolve. Zero-touch provisioning helps to simplify deployment and configuration to further reduce complexity.
- Lower cost. Organizations can scale their SD-WAN solutions up or down based on demand, eliminating costly over- or under-provisioning. Substituting expensive MPLS circuits with commodity connections reduces the cost of connectivity. With a solution that’s easier to manage, IT teams can do more with fewer resources and staff.
- Enhanced connectivity. By avoiding the need to backhaul traffic to centralized data centers for security inspection, SD-WAN solutions help reduce latency to provide a better user experience.
- Greater resiliency. SD-WAN technology enables redundancy in WAN connections, automatically failing over to a secondary connection when the primary path fails or is too slow.
What to Look for in an SD-WAN Solution
There are many SD-WAN solutions on the market today. The best solutions are easy to configure and deploy at scale, and they make it possible to consolidate both legacy assets and new infrastructure. When choosing an SD-WAN provider, IT teams will want to consider these criteria.
- Integrated security. SD-WAN offerings with integrated security will help to reduce costs and minimize risk. Advanced malware detection and a strong firewall with a built-in intrusion prevention system are crucial. URL filtering and sandboxing features can add additional security.
- Endpoint context. Since user data from endpoints can help to proactively manage incidents, superior SD-WAN technology should provide endpoint data that can be analyzed to profile and map user behavior and initiate preventive action.
- No external routers. Eliminating the external routers used in traditional WAN solutions will help IT teams avoid the costly and time-consuming manual processes involved in configuring and maintaining these legacy devices.
- Multi-linking technology. Ideally, an SD-WAN solution should incorporate technology for combining multiple links to deliver better performance and resiliency and to lower SD-WAN cost.
- Clustering capabilities. A superior SD-WAN technology will allow teams to mix and match hardware and software for clusters, ideally supporting clustering up to at least four nodes.
- Standard features. The right SD-WAN solution will offer all the standard features including link aggregation, QoS, link load-balancing and application routing. Additionally, with the ideal solution, there will be no difference in how IT teams manage the WAN, internal LANs and cloud-based environments like AWS and Azure.
A Leading SD-WAN Solution from Forcepoint
Forcepoint FlexEdge Secure SD-WAN is designed from the ground up for high availability and scalability, as well as centralized traffic management and complete visibility into network traffic.
Forcepoint’s SD-WAN solution optimizes connectivity to private, public and hybrid cloud environments, improving performance of applications while enforcing security policies across thousands of sites from a central location. With FlexEdge Secure SD-WAN, distributed organizations can defend against advanced threats while enjoying application-based control over MPLS and internet broadband links.
FlexEdge Secure SD-WAN leverages Forcepoint Multi-Link™ technology to create resilient networks with multiple redundancies and automated failover systems that keep businesses online. To meet the demands of modern enterprises, Forcepoint’s SD-WAN solution integrates direct-to-cloud connectivity with industry-leading network security and threat protection. Administrators can centrally manage and control up to 6,000 physical, virtual and cloud appliances from a single console, while users can implement devices throughout the world quickly with zero-touch deployment.