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Learn how SD-WAN works in this tutorial from Riverbed

Whether you are new to SD-WAN and want SD-WAN explained or want to learn more, this article will have something for you.

How Does SD-WAN Work: What is SD-WAN?

SD-WAN is an innovative way to orchestrate application delivery, accelerate application performance and unify network connectivity – often across hybrid WAN, LAN/WLAN and cloud networks.

SD-WAN makes managing networks simple, cost effective and reliable. It also provides operational and performance benefits and huge cost savings as compared to traditional WAN infrastructure. The right SD-WAN can improve network management, decrease time to market and increase business agility.

How Do I Manage an SD-WAN?

The right SD-WAN solution should allow you to design, deploy and change your deployments and orchestrate services quickly and easily – without CLI configuration. Some SD-WAN solutions require CLI configuration, increasing complexity and requiring highly skilled, expensive IT staff at corporate and sometimes in remote locations when problems occur.

Centralized management with easy-to-use, menu-driven workflows can eliminate tedious, error-prone CLI configuration. Intuitive, cloud-centric SD-WAN workflows drive instant expansion of new network end-points, without additional operational overhead, with zero-touch provisioning to remote locations and automated “single-click” expansion of connectivity and orchestration into cloud environments.

A SD-WAN managment console should give you a complete view of the enterprise network, from the hybrid WAN at branch locations, cloud infrastructure environments and even reaching to the end user with branch wireless and wired LAN networks.

Can I Set Up Policies and Provision Services Globally?

Look for global orchestration that allows you to apply software-defined and business policy-based orchestration across the entire connectivity fabric, spanning hybrid WANs, cloud networks and branch wireless and wired LANs. Intent-based policies should be expressed in the language of business—apps, users, locations, performance SLAs and security constraints. This eliminates the need for technical translation, intermediation and error-prone configuration updates.

SD-WAN delivers automatic provisioning of devices and services like WAN optimization for application latency, especially in remote locations or with cloud apps, based on your business policies and full mesh connections between clouds and distributed locations. 

How Does SD-WAN Optimize and Make App Performance Visible?

Fully featured SD-WAN solutions should be able to identify, classify and optimize more than a thousand applications over any network without you having to think about it. Quality of Service (QoS) that is easy to implement can ensure that both inbound and outbound traffic is appropriately prioritized by business criticality.

Given the growth in cloud apps, SD-WAN must enable total management of SaaS applications from local breakout management to latency mitigation to visibility into end-user experience. To accelerate the wide variety of enterprise apps in use, SD-WAN optimization should streamline data, transport and applications. It must address (and stay current with) a wide variety of evolving standards-based protocols such as CIFS, HTTPS, MAPI, NFS, and SQL, to reduce the number of network- and application-based transactions across the WAN for faster response times and end-to-end throughput.

Path control should be automated with the capability to path select based on application type, business priority and path quality as determined by available bandwidth, latency, jitter or packet loss.

What about Remote Sites and Guest Access?

SD-WAN provides a connectivity and orchestration fabric from a central place of management to wherever users are located - on campuses, mobile or remote. SD-WAN policy overlays should automatically integrate with existing routers, WAN optimization appliances and other existing appliances for fast provisioning of unified, optimized networks. Simple, non-disruptive extension of SD-WAN to on-premises datacenters should be a given. In addition, Guest Wi-Fi access must enable security and ease of guest access with rapid, secure self-registration when guests or employees bring their own devices (BYOD).

Can SD-WAN Show Me What’s Going on in the Network?

SD-WAN should provide a unified at-a-glance view of your network topology, including registered and online appliances. For visibility, it should offer continuous automatic monitoring of network events, site and tunnel status, as well as providing report-based usage and availability data about your overall network, specific sites, servers, all applications and users.

Truly integrated tools – not a third party add on – can provide you with visibility end to end—all the way from the end user to the cloud, as well as instant and perfect visibility into the quality of every available path.

How Does SD-WAN Help Keep My Network Secure?

Security needs to be built in to the SD-WAN design—not added later in response to security breaches. Centralized support for embedded security, firewalls, access points and switches should help simplify and consolidate the overall management of equipment, especially at the branch and other distributed locations. Check for security that complements and integrates with third-party CASB or on-premises firewalls.

Security rules should be part of the policy and easy to implement, deploy, manage and change universally throughout the system—without any error-prone command-line interface (CLI) configuration.

The centralized, secure, global management system based on a single global policy should automate services and be easily changed for rapid response to changing conditions or new needs. User identity-based control provides an easy and intuitive way to define network access. Be sure you can identify users by name, roles or job functions.

SteelConnect SD-WAN

Riverbed SteelConnect is a complete SD-WAN solution for securely connecting users and business to the applications they need, wherever they reside—on a remote LAN/WLAN, in a data center or in the cloud. With more than a decade of experience leading the industry in making WANs perform better, Riverbed has the track record to help customers on their SD-WAN journey.

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