SD-WAN: How to Get Beyond the Hype and Choose the Right Solution

Traditional WANs with dedicated MPLS circuits weren’t designed to support the volume and complexity of WAN traffic found in today’s cloud-centric networks. Backhauling Internet traffic from remote locations through the primary data center is an expensive approach that creates performance bottlenecks and management headaches. This is why the software-defined approach to WAN architecture and management is taking off.

According to a recent IDC survey, “SD-WAN (software-defined WAN) continues to be one of the fastest-growing segments of the network infrastructure market.” In fact, the SD-WAN market is expected to grow at an annual rate of more than 40 percent during the next three years. More and more organizations are turning to SD-WAN to reduce costs, improve the resiliency of their network, boost application performance, and intelligently route traffic on the fly across different types of connections.

What to Look for in an SD-WAN Solution

Sifting through marketing claims and long lists of features can be challenging for organizations seeking an SD-WAN solution. However, there are certain key capabilities that are critical to maximizing the benefits of SD-WAN.

Simple, centralized management is one of the core tenets of the software-defined model, which uses network overlays to overcome the complexity of underlying infrastructure. The management interface should provide a complete view of connectivity across branch locations and cloud environments. Zero-touch provisioning of devices, services and equipment should be possible with a single click.
Connectivity should be automated and secure. This requires the integration of network services and hardware, as well as security software and appliances. Security should be baked into your SD-WAN solution and easily automated, using security policies that are universally applied and managed across the network. Also, look for advanced analytics that allow you to continuously optimize network connectivity and security.

Cisco’s SD-WAN Architecture

Cisco SD-WAN is an overlay architecture capable of automatically routing traffic to MPLS, broadband internet, and LTE mobile connections. Policy-based routing allows you to prioritize mission-critical and real-time applications using multiple hybrid links to ensure a predictable user experience. Scalable to more than 10,000 locations with zero-touch provisioning, Cisco SD-WAN enables centralized management with rich analytics that provide admins with full visibility into connectivity, workflows and performance across multiple public and private clouds.

To reduce the risk of security and compliance issues, SD-WAN employs zero-trust security. All users, devices and traffic are assumed risky until verified, and network segmentation controls access at a granular level. A wide range of security tools are integrated, including firewall, intrusion prevention systems, Cisco Advanced Malware Protection, DNS-layer enforcement, URL filtering, antivirus, encryption and authentication.

Meraki or Viptela?

Cisco offers two solutions — Meraki and Viptela — based upon its SD-WAN architecture. Meraki is ideal for small to midsize companies with lean IT environments. If the primary goal is to simplify the management and automation of WAN, LAN and security, Meraki is the choice.

For larger enterprises that require significant customization, sophisticated routing policies and network segmentation, and optimization of connectivity to multi-cloud and Software-as-a-Service applications, Viptela is the ideal solution. Viptela offers a number of premium features for larger organizations with highly complex environments.

As a Gold-Certified Cisco Partner, Cerium has deep expertise in the latest Cisco products and services. Let us show you how Cisco SD-WAN can help you reduce connectivity costs and management complexity while delivering the predictable application performance that users demand.

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