Real World Use Cases for SD-WAN


Editor’s note: Read on for two SD-WAN use cases, and then watch Riverbed’s Vivek Ganti demonstrate SteelConnect in the video below.

Riverbed aims to provide customers with what they need, not what we think they should buy. As Mark Woods of Riverbed Solutions Marketing told us, "Everything starts with what the customer needs. They're in a certain situation, they need to do specific things, and they go looking for a product, service, or solution to help them satisfy their needs."

That's why Riverbed's new e-book, "The Essential Guide to Cloud Networking with SD-WAN," begins with a list of potential SD-WAN use cases for this exciting technology, and that’s why Woods wrote the blog post, "5 Use Cases for SD-WAN. Do You Recognize One?"

Woods is also passionate about explaining how SteelConnect SD-WAN can help customers with their unique needs. We spoke to him to go behind the blog and get more details. We talked about:

  • How Riverbed technology can handle the various network needs of a retail outlet or sales office
  • How a cloud-based SD-WAN makes it easy to connect a single cloud-based application developed in house to many branch offices

Let's dive in!

Example 1: Sales office with many networks in many locations

One compelling use case is the need to provide multiple kinds of network connectivity in a retail outlet or a sales office, for example. Large companies might have hundreds or thousands of remote locations spread across a wide geography, and the ability to quickly open new stores or offices can be an operational necessity.

Taking the sales office example further, they frequently run on a combination of applications served from an enterprise data center plus cloud-based SaaS that requires a hybrid approach to WAN connectivity. Also, the LAN/WLAN network within the office is often divided into multiple segments to meet contrasting needs of employees and guests. A sales office may need:

  • General-purpose Wi-Fi to provide customers and guests with Internet access
  • Secure zones of wired and/or wireless LAN for company use
  • An MPLS WAN connection to applications running in the corporate data center
  • Direct Internet connectivity to cloud-based SaaS applications (for example, Office 365 or Salesforce) for which data is already encrypted as well as to support customers’ or guests’ needs for Internet access
  • VPN connections to company applications running in IaaS/PaaS cloud environments

All of these requirements can be met by deploying a unified network fabric of SD-WAN and wired and wireless LAN. Control is centralized in a single console with a graphical interface. Performance priorities and security are governed with policy-based management implemented via automation and orchestration.

This can be accomplished with SteelConnect SD-WAN and Riverbed Xirrus SD-LAN — especially now that Xirrus networks can be controlled directly within SteelConnect Manager. With SteelConnect, you can establish business-quality broadband, VPN connections, hybrid WANs, or MPLS connections as needed.

With SteelConnect you can easily configure secure WiFi access for employees and straight-to-Internet access for guests.

Figure 1. With SteelConnect Manager you can easily configure separate Wi-Fi SSIDs providing corporate network access to employees and Internet access to guests.

Example 2: Many endpoints connected with ease

Another common scenario in modern enterprises involves a cloud-based application, developed internally by DevOps, meant to be accessed by employees at multiple remote sites. "This is a situation where setting it up WAN connections manually is very tedious, whether it’s just straight across the Internet or you’re doing it with a VPN connection to give better security," says Woods. "Someone’s going to have to sit down and manually configure the connections between each office and the application."

SteelConnect has the capabilities to make those problems melt away. "One of the really nice things about SteelConnect," Woods explains, "is that you can very easily and quickly connect a virtual private cloud that the application runs in to those sites using the SteelConnect SD-WAN interface. You don’t get bogged down in a bunch of command line interface consoles."

"It’s about three minutes’ worth of work for the administrator and a few more minutes for those VPN connections to be established. It's pretty amazing, actually, to watch connections from the Cloud to dozens of enterprise sites come online in 5–10 minutes."

Many problems, many solutions

These are just two of the many ways SteelCentral SD-WAN capabilities can help users solve their problems. You can see what Woods described happening in real time during a talk given by Riverbed’s Vivek Ganti at the 2017 Open Networking Group User Conference. In the video, Ganti outlines several use cases, including:

  • Bringing up a new site with full-mesh connectivity to other enterprise sites
  • Connecting virtual private clouds in AWS that host applications in IaaS environments to all enterprise sites; the same can be done with VNets in Microsoft Azure
  • Improving SaaS application performance by applying a traffic rule that will steer SaaS traffic from branch/remote sites directly onto the Internet instead of backhauling across MPLS WAN through a central enterprise location and then onto the Internet
  • Ensuring that the time-sensitive traffic of VoIP applications is always steered onto the best path by applying another traffic rule that favors MPLS (guaranteed bandwidth) but also selects the path based on latency-sensitive metrics and uses QoS to always gives VoIP traffic “urgent” priority over other network traffic

If you want more information, check out Riverbed's SD-WAN use cases page as well as the SteelConnect videos narrated by Ganti.  And don't forget to download "The Essential Guide to Cloud Networking with SD-WAN" eBook.