Digital disruption is forcing organizations to focus on a digital strategy that optimizes the ability to access and consume digital technologies, such as public cloud services, software as a service, artificial intelligence, blockchain and Internet of Things platforms, within a continuously evolving digitally connected world. To remain competitive and to continue to innovative how they conduct business or develop and launch new products and services, businesses must also consider a more performant and agile form of direct and secure interconnection as a foundation for their digital strategies.
With virtualization technology, there has been a drive to make networks less static and more automated and responsive to the needs of applications and individual workloads. In the data center, the emergence of the software-defined data center is being driven by software-defined networking (SDN), including the virtualization of IT infrastructure and the need to make the network more application-aware and flexible to changes. These network changes need to occur dynamically to deliver applications and services via the best path with the best quality of experience. This is driving more SDN and OpenFlow technology solutions to be implemented in the data center.
SDN provides many potential benefits to today’s wide area networks (WANs), which are becoming increasingly complex to manage and cater for in the digital era in which we now find ourselves, where data needs to be available anywhere, anytime and on any device. Organizations today are using applications hosted as cloud services, deploying online collaboration tools for conference calls and meetings, and using a mix of end devices, from smartphones to tablets. The old network is no longer suitable for the new demands and services that need to be supported. Enterprises need a network that can adapt and be programmed to meet their requirements today and in the future.
SD-WAN comes of age
Software-defined-WAN (SD-WAN) offers tremendous value to today’s organizations with multiple remote offices, delivering business agility and cost savings. Depending on how it is implemented, SD-WAN allows the use or replacement of the existing network services. It can function with multiple network types, however, a lot of the savings come from sending more traffic over internet-based connectivity. SD-WAN leverages the benefits of centralized control with support of software- and cloud-based technology to manage the network from a single pane of glass.
SD-WAN is the component of SDN that is transforming the enterprise branch office, as it decouples the control plane and the data plane to allow centralized policy, orchestration and control that can be used with cloud-based management and automation to simplify the delivery of services to the branch office. This work is all done with the manageability, performance and reliability assurances that enterprises expect. This is the opposite of the static traditional model that requires configuration to be done on a per-device basis, which is cumbersome and slow.
SD-WAN can be a service you procure through a service provider or it can be implemented with SD-WAN appliances, which can be physical or virtual appliances running on compute servers. The topology below shows a high-level overview of an SD-WAN deployment where multiple network services are used and policy is controlled and driven through a centralized cloud service.
The implementation and management benefits of SD-WAN technology are that it enables you to leverage a hybrid WAN architecture where you can gain full advantage of all your network services more efficiently by utilizing the bandwidth and prioritizing which applications go over which path. Organizations can gain advantage by building out SDN-based communication hubs at vendor-neutral colocations, such as Equinix, with extensive interconnection options for network and cloud services, to aggregate connectivity, increase performance and drive down costs. The diagram above shows an example of one communication hub, where aggregation of network connectivity and access to the cloud can be achieved by creating a scalable digital edge footprint, complemented with an SD-WAN-based orchestration capability, providing a platform for application performance and multi-path connectivity options.
For example, Equinix and Citrix have an integrated solution, powered by Citrix NetScaler SD-WAN and Equinix Performance Hub with the Equinix Cloud Exchange Fabric™ (ECX Fabric™), that provides enterprises with an SD-WAN solution that is easy to manage, scalable and reliable. It creates connections directly from branch offices to Equinix International Business Exchange(IBX®) data centers around the world. These virtualized connections consist of secure tunnels built over multiple aggregated network links, including public internet, MPLS and wireless.
To learn more about how to deploy high-performance and scalable Equinix and Citrix SD-WANs in your organization.
You might also want to read Networking for Nerds: SD-WAN and Multicloud.