Once thought of as the little brother to Software Defined Networking (SDN), today SD-WAN is growing in leaps and bounds and has proved itself as a mature technology. One of the reasons for SD-WAN’s increased adoption is the technology’s ability to deliver more reliable, agile and cost effective internet connectivity by aggregating the best available connections at any given time. SD-WAN technology bonds these multiple connections even in rough environments or rural worksites once plagued by spotty internet connectivity. This is a game changer for businesses that have branch offices, campuses or a mobile workforce (which today, is almost every business!) Examples include healthcare providers, retailers, financial services, food and beverage vendors, and those with vehicle networks like EMS or field construction crews.
How SD-WAN works
SD-WAN works by converging multiple links together− MPLS, broadband, 4G LTE, carrier Ethernet and DSL− giving organizations superior internet at broadband speeds as well as backup and redundancy features. This means that if one connection goes down, distributed offices and those working remotely, can still access mission critical applications because the technology automatically routes traffic to another link. This dynamic, on-the-fly network intelligence shapes and prioritizes traffic by following policies set by administrators. And, this can all be done from a centralized controller which is often cloud managed.
This level of fail-safe connectivity is especially important for organizations that rely heavily on cloud-based instances of SaaS applications, UC&C applications, storage and backup systems, and IaaS such as AWS. In today’s need for ‘always-on’ connectivity, imagine if the network went down due to an unexpected storm or severed Ethernet line. Productivity immediately plummets when employees have slow or limited access to everything that keeps the businesses running. VoIP systems, Salesforce, BI applications, or even PCI-compliant payment processing systems are all vulnerable with traditional WAN architectures.
Why does network diversity really matter?
Organizations can gain a significant advantage by diversifying network links to create an enhanced network topology and greater network redundancy. While there are dozens of SD-WAN vendors and technologies available today, finding the right controller and set of options can be a challenge. To get clarity, ask these three questions of any SD-WAN or cloud provider:
- Can SD-WAN pick up LTE-Advanced networks? The truth is most SD-WAN devices leveraging USB modems run on the slower single band LTE, ignoring the faster LTE-Advanced signal. On the other hand, routers with embedded Category 6 Modems have the capabilities to pick up LTE-Advanced signals. This is an important note because LTE-A is gaining traction as the defacto standard for network carriers offering higher speeds and more bandwidth.
- Wireless Router or USB? Many SD-WAN devices load balance and channel bond MPLS, broadband and 4G LTE, depending on availability, speeds and the type of traffic. They also offer wireless connectivity through a USB modem plugged into the back of the device. The problem with USB modems is that they’re an aging technology that relies on small antennas that are, for the most part, cheap and flimsy. Not only that, USB handoffs are inherently slower and offer fewer options for traffic control. Opt for advanced routers with an embedded Cat 6 Wireless modem.
- Cloud managed options? If considering SD-WAN, ask about cloud-managed options. A cloud-managed SD-WAN controller offers greater network performance and scalability with no infrastructure costs upfront. The solution can also be deployed rapidly with pre-configuration options instantly available. Many cloud options also provide improved network visibility and analytics so administrators can manage WAN performance, data usage and costs more effectively. Through the controller, they can quickly set up policies for load balancing and traffic shaping. They can also apply Intelligent Quality of Experience (QoE) metrics and set up alerts to manage and remediate connection issues. This might include things like unexpected data usage, failed login attempts, conﬁguration changes, etc.
Those organizations embracing cloud infrastructures, including those that have branch offices and a mobile workforce, require more intelligent and responsive network topographies to stay competitive. Asking these questions early on can help you make a more informed decision about diversifying your network with SD-WAN.
Broad Sky Networks offers the latest technology of routers embedded with a next-generation chip set to access Advanced LTE on the carriers as well as bonding technology for the fastest speeds and most bandwidth available. Broad Sky engineers their solution at each location to utilize the strongest carrier at every site. If you’d like to learn more about Broad Sky Networks and how to enhance the intelligence of your network for smarter business operations, email Sales@BroadSkyNetworks.net us or give us a call at (877) 291-9575, we’re here to help.