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How does SD-WAN work?

Software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) technology offers an agile approach to managing distributed hybrid networks, putting software needs first to ensure optimal performance for every user. SD-WAN also reduces network maintenance costs and improves agility, performance, and efficiency.

While legacy network management approaches rely on device-specific Command Line Interface based configurations, the scale and complexity of today’s hybrid networks calls for a new approach. SD-WAN makes managing networks simple, cost effective, and scalable.

SD-WAN solutions automate secure connectivity and guarantee performance across the global enterprise network—from cloud instances across the hybrid WAN, to end user devices on the LANs. The administrator prioritizes business-critical applications over others by setting appropriate rules or policies. The SD-WAN solution then automates real-time application traffic-steering according to these rules and based on WAN link quality.

Integrating performance visibility into the solution enables the administrator to proactively monitor whether or not the SD-WAN solution is meeting expected requirements. High ROI SD-WAN solutions also integrate network services such as application acceleration and security while reducing administrative overhead through centralized management. This ensures that you can continue to meet end user expectations even with changing network traffic patterns and business priorities.

Setting up new branch networks is easy with SD-WAN “zero-touch provisioning,” which means you can configure remotely and proactively—actual deployment on-site should not require skilled IT resources. Zero-touch provisioning can significantly reduce ‘truck-roll’ costs while speeding up time-to-market and time-to-revenue.

How does SD-WAN steer traffic to appropriate paths for application performance?

While traditional routing protocols select the single best path between two sites and keep using that path unless they’re manually configured, SD-WAN directs business-critical traffic to the highest-performing WAN links in real-time. Less critical or less sensitive traffic is sent on the remaining WAN links. The SD-WAN solution identifies the best performing WAN links based on real-time analysis of link quality metrics such as jitter, packet loss, and throughput, and steers traffic accordingly. The SD-WAN solution must be able to identify encrypted and unencrypted traffic and classify traffic into ‘groups’ based on application intelligence, without compromising the integrirty of the data itself. For example, SSL/TLS certificates must be handled securely.

Can the administrator control performance of specific applications or users?

Yes, the administrator can control which applications, users, and sites get highest priority on the WAN. Quickly and easily set policies and priorities for each location or for your entire network using the central management console. For example, you can choose to route all video traffic on your WAN to the highest-capacity links, connect all cloud applications via the fastest broadband connections, or send business traffic at a specific location via secure virtual private network (VPN.)

Prioritize performance, users, locations, data security, and more, and leverage multiple network paths to accelerate application performance across the board. You can also toggle WAN optimization or application acceleration via the central management console.

What are some of the benefits of SD-WAN?

This new approach to network management delivers considerable benefits for end users and for the enterprise as a whole.

Flexible and agile

SD-WAN monitors network conditions continuously and adjusts automatically to make sure every user in every location gets optimal performance on the apps they need to do their jobs, all the time. If a high-performance link fails, a path gets congested, or traffic slows down for any number of other reasons, it’s automatically rerouted to a working link. This means you maintain performance service level agreements (SLAs) and keep your end users happy and productive, while also freeing up your IT department to focus on more strategic initiatives. And anytime your business needs change, you can adjust priorities across your entire WAN quickly and easily using the centralized console.

Design and deploy faster

With SD-WAN you can set up a new branch remotely, ship SD-WAN appliances, and simply plug the appliances in at the branch location. As soon as they’re powered up, appliances join the network, download configurations, and start working. And zero-touch provisioning in the cloud is even easier, with a single click workflow—SD-WAN appliance provisioning and secure connectivity are both fully automated.

Lower costs

Enterprises using SD-WAN can rely on broadband connections for non-critical traffic, which is less expensive than private links and MPLS connections. In addition, SD-WAN reduces network service and maintenance costs, which can account for up to a quarter of networking expenses. Lowering costs while also accelerating performance increases efficiency and boosts ROI. Zero-touch provisioning further reduces costs and accelerates time-to-revenue.

Higher performance

Give every user the best performance possible, period. With SD-WAN you can modernize your WAN infrastructure and overcome the challenges that come with today’s complex, cloud-connected networks. Accelerate application performance across your entire network to increase efficiency, and productivity.

How does Riverbed SteelConnect work?

Riverbed’s SteelConnect is a revolutionary application-defined SD-WAN solution with four key components that work together to make managing your hybrid WAN simple, smart, and powerful.

At the top level, the SteelConnect Manager is your centralized, multi-tenant management portal, providing an intuitive, simplified workflow for designing, deploying, and managing distributed and hybrid networks. Give administrators a single pane of visibility into your entire network to monitor network health, deploy appliances, and change policies. Secure connectivity is automatically established with the appliances, policy is updated, and business-critical applications are always given priority based on real-time network health.

Below that a line of physical and virtual secure WAN SteelConnect Gateways provide point-to-point, full-mesh connectivity and enforce global policies across on-premises and cloud network environments. Gateways feature zero-touch provisioning, automated VPN management, and next generation firewall and threat protection capabilities.

Users and devices connect to the WAN via SteelConnect Switches and Access Points, a line of remote local area network (LAN) and Wi-Fi access points that support zero-touch provisioning, automate global enforcement of access control policies, and provide complete visibility into connected users and devices.

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