Take Control With SD-WAN

Paul Mason

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When it comes to wide area networks (WANs), enterprises face the challenge of balancing high-availability, performance and costs. Take a retailer with hundreds of locations: Deploying a redundant pair of MPLS connections to each store will provide high availability, but it is a costly solution. The retailer may explore running the links in an active/active fashion to help justify the costs, but the complexity associated with deploying and managing multiple networks increases the operational costs and may end up lowering the overall availability. And deploying enterprise-grade Internet to each branch as a back-up to the primary MPLS link can lower costs, but it opens up security concerns requiring additional policy and hardware.

Enterprises have cycled through the classic network mechanisms: route maps and filters, access control lists and border gateway protocol (BGP) traffic engineering. They’ve also tried advanced features, such as policy-based routing, virtual chassis and scripting. But the outcome is the same: The enterprise is left paying for bandwidth it can’t fully utilize.

Enterprises have long accepted this as the WAN status quo, but the major disruption of cloud services (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS) is putting new demands on the enterprise WAN. Mission-critical apps are moving out of the enterprise data center, but still require the reliability and security delivered by the WAN. However, backhauling traffic to the corporate data center to apply security policy before heading to the cloud adds latency, and users’ quality of experience suffers.

Software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) has the potential to change this whole paradigm. SD-WAN solutions from Viptela, Velocloud and CloudGenix are challenging Cisco’s Intelligent WAN in a fight to solve the WAN dilemma. While each vendor offers its own flavors of SD-WAN, they share a common architecture of a policy-driven controller, coupled with an automatic secure overlay between the edge devices deployed at each branch. SD-WAN has the ability to reduce the complexity of deploying policy across multiple WAN circuits. Once connected, SD-WAN also allows the enterprise to load-balance applications in an active/active fashion on different links based on performance, security or cost polices. The enterprise gains more control of its traffic by moving from clunky command line configurations to a powerful SD-WAN policy controller.

Enter the Home of the Interconnected Cloud

By realizing the network and cloud connectivity options within Equinix, organizations are combining SD-WAN solutions with Equinix Performance Hub and the Cloud Exchange to take control of cloud connectivity and achieve the required performance with far less cost and complexity.

Performance Hub extends the corporate network to the nearest global Equinix data center, where the largest choice of network and cloud providers live. Performance Hub and SD-WAN integrate enterprise branches together into a simpler fabric than could ever be achieved with classic routing equipment.

With the Cloud Exchange and its access to multiple cloud service providers, SD-WAN solutions are being used to introduce network policy to cloud-bound traffic. You can easily enforce centralized policies that leverage the most desirable access routes to the cloud for each branch location without needing a PhD in BGP. SD-WAN plus the Cloud Exchange also means quick and secure connectivity to the cloud that can be delivered in minutes, not months.

Since the “magic” of SD-WAN is more in software than hardware, it’s not inconceivable that enterprises will soon deploy SD-WAN edge nodes in the cloud, effectively allowing the enterprise to access the cloud just like it would a branch office.

SD-WAN delivers performance, security, agility, business continuity and greater control over routing policies and costs. Equinix delivers the interconnection to networks and clouds. Everyone wins.

Learn more about SD-WAN and cloud configurations by talking to one of our Global Solutions Architects.

Paul Mason
Paul Mason Regional Procurement Manager