In recent years, enterprises have been using more broadband for wide-area network (WAN) connectivity as a cost-effective alternative to the traditional multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) network. Although MPLS delivers stability, performance and security in connecting data centers to branch offices and branch offices to each other, MPLS connections are more expensive and less flexible than broadband Internet.
For years, organizations have resisted switching to the Internet for connectivity due to concerns about security and performance. However, just about everyone is using the cloud these days, and cloud-based applications are accessed via the Internet. This has IT managers rethinking their approach to the WAN. If broadband is already being used to connect to the cloud, it’s difficult to justify the high cost of MPLS when enterprise-grade broadband can be used to replace or at least augment WAN connections.
Despite the shift to broadband, WAN management remains a major challenge. Mobile, the cloud and collaboration tools have made the WAN more complex, and few organizations have onsite personnel at remote locations to manage IT infrastructure. Most networks were designed to support consistent client/server traffic flow, not the constant peaks and valleys from mobile and cloud applications that require dynamic bandwidth allocation.
The need to simplify WAN management and control costs has given rise to the software-defined WAN (SD-WAN). With the SD-WAN, all WAN devices, connections and traffic are managed through a centralized controller. Many configuration, monitoring and maintenance tasks are automated, and intelligent software dynamically chooses the best path for traffic based on predefined policies and current network conditions. SD-WAN also allows organizations to accelerate the shift from MPLS to less expensive broadband connections and maximize use of available bandwidth. Analytics-based tools can be used to identify and respond to network issues in real time.
Cisco recently announced the completion of its acquisition of Viptela, a company that developed the SD-WAN solution deployed at more global 1000 companies than any other platform. SD-WAN built on the Viptela Fabric ensures secure connectivity across remote locations, enabling organizations to quickly deploy new applications and services while simplifying operations.
With enterprise application traffic growing 30 percent annually and the WAN already taking up 10 percent of IT budgets, organizations must balance the need to add and effectively manage bandwidth and reduce connectivity costs. Viptela SD-WAN is both carrier-agnostic and transport-agnostic, allowing connectivity to be added over broadband, MPLS, 4G/LTE and more. Zero-touch provisioning reduces operational expenses by enabling the remote activation, maintenance and configuration of devices. All controllers are hosted in the Viptela cloud so admins can manage the WAN from any location.
Using the zero-trust security model, all SD-WAN components mutually authenticate each other. Edge devices are authorized before they enter the network, and all data is encrypted with SSL and IPSec technologies. Viptela SD-WAN also makes it possible to segment traffic at the application and user levels to keep threats from moving across the network.