SD-WAN: Accelerating Branch Office Operations
Branch office operations have reached a critical juncture.
Articles published January 22, 2018 by Jack Kapustka
On one hand, IT is under pressure to deliver a new class of cloud-based applications to branch and remote sites. On the other, it must confront the added complexity that comes with accidental-architected network evolution, as well as the hidden risk to driving up total cost of ownership (TCO) of corporate WANs.
The Main Obstacles to Branch Office Modernization
In other words, branch-office end users now have requirements that on-site technical personnel cannot always meet via traditional WAN architectures. Users expect on-demand access to cloud applications, necessitating a WAN capable of addressing common causes of congestion, such as inconsistent performance, costly over-provisioning, and predominantly manual management processes.
Unpredictable latency is well-documented as a major drain on the operational agility of organizations as varied as Amazon and brokerage firms, according to Turbonomic. At branch offices, it has a similarly negative effect by compromising the quality of traffic for real-time apps like voice and video, and in turn sapping the productivity of remote employees. IHS Markit has estimated that North American companies lose $700 billion yearly to such IT degradations and outages.
Ironically, the shift at branch offices to inexpensive public internet links, which avoid the cost and performance penalties of backhauling via MPLS, has possibly made WANs more expensive and complex. The reason is device sprawl, with branches needing multiple layers of security built upon separate appliances for firewalling, VPN, WAN optimization, and overhead. Plus, without the granular insight of a software-defined WAN (SD-WAN), it is not easy to delve into what all this over-provisioning actually represents or how it could be curbed to more sustainably scale the WAN.
Many of these legacy WAN components are installed manually. Accordingly, they require a lot of time to configure and are also prone to human error, which Gartner’s Andrew Lerner has labeled “the undisputed No. 1 cause of network outages.” Proper setup and maintenance are difficult since on-site expertise is extremely limited at many organizations, and IT personnel budgets, which might help in hiring more staff and making upgrades, have been flat in recent years, according to a Spiceworks survey. These challenges make the case for a SD-WAN service that facilitate faster and more efficient overhauling of branch office networks. SD-WAN services accelerate operational agility by simplifying branch infrastructure through zero-touch provisioning and consolidation of network functions through hybrid WAN services that encompass virtualization and cloud.
Speed up Branch Office Deployment With a SD-WAN
More specifically, SD-WAN services reduce complexity, allow for effortless deployment, and also support scalable and easy service chaining for easily exposing SD-WAN functionality as a service.
Functions such as VRF, DHCP and IPsec tunnel termination are consolidated on one device, and a single physical or virtual appliance can house multiple services, shortening the service chain and lowering TCO. Finally, a failsafe SD-WAN chooses the best possible paths through the network for mission-critical apps, with deterministic routing to avoid congestion and optimize performance, while delivering a platinum level of QoS reliability.