SDWAN. Not Just For Branch Office Networking

I guess my articles are just as much at fault as everyone else’s for not relaying all the benefits that SDWAN brings to its users. I have focused on the impact it can have to businesses with remote or branch offices. The benefits go much farther than that.

SDWAN is first and foremost an application fabric. That term, application fabric, what does it really mean? It is an intelligent routing platform that can make decisions on all aspects of the OSI stack when it comes to application performance. This means factors that are inherent SaaS payloads and not merely the standard jitter, latency, and loss metrics. An application fabric makes decisions not only based on the network, but also on the application, and more importantly, the user’s experience of that application.

Many small to medium businesses can benefit from this application centric view of SDWAN technologies. The ability to prioritize, and control bandwidth across multiple internet circuits can help businesses in their quest to adopt more advanced technologies such as VoIP, SaaS, and PaaS solutions. And, with an application fabric, core application metrics are considered when making traffic handling decisions, and those metrics are exposed through dashboards that give actionable insights into how applications are being used and performing.

As cloud and SaaS technologies become more prevalent, the increased demands on business internet will be difficult to overcome without the use of SDWAN technologies. Being able to priority route VoIP traffic over web or email traffic will become critical even in the age of Gigabit internet connections. When you compare the traditional approach of QoS to managing an application fabric, this becomes clear to the observer. Highly complex configuration of the Cisco modular QoS CLI is required. You have traffic classification, policy definition, queue management, and policing to configure for each type of traffic or site. When you extend that to dozens of SaaS or cloud services, you are talking several hundred lines of CLI configuration and complicated access lists that frequently change if cloud or SaaS application endpoints change.

With an application fabric, apps are identified not by low-level IP addresses and port numbers, but rather by DNS lookups, SSL certificate information, and transaction behavior. This means that configuration of complicated CLI rules and access lists are not required, and better yet, should cloud or SaaS application endpoints change, no configuration change is required in the application fabric.

Traditional WAN technologies haven’t made transformational advancement for over 20 years. IOT, Cloud, and SaaS demand a better way to do WAN. Application fabrics are smarter in both identifying applications and enforcing policy while also providing substantial benefit to single-site and multi-site companies.

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