Of all the benefits that software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) offers to enterprises and service providers, interoperability is one that has had the greatest impact for its users. Interoperability offers both groups the ability to create effective solutions that are applicable to their needs while avoiding vendor lock-in. Interoperability is a key objective for SD-WAN, especially as software-defined networking (SDN) principles are applied to the WAN. The following takes a look at how SD-WAN is driving interoperability and innovation in four key areas.
Interoperability and Network Connectivity
Abstraction is a key interoperability goal of SD-WAN, as it allows for robust networks that offer a large degree of flexibility and resilience. In the past, hybrid WAN and multiple provider configurations were heavily reliant on complex routing that lacked application resiliency and adequate utilization of network resources.
Today, SD-WAN logical overlay networks provide business level abstraction with the simplicity and flexibility that comes from interoperability with different providers and routing configurations. But while SD-WAN makes it easier to build WANs and hybrid WANs with greater interoperability, it also strives to improve application performance over a broad range of physical transports.
Interoperability and Security
Interoperability is a key feature when it comes to network security, especially when dealing with multiple solutions and vendors.
There are several ways that SD-WAN is a valuable asset in regards to interoperability. SD-WAN solutions can act as a virtual services platform for customer premise equipment (CPE), with automated functions and business level abstractions making it easier to incorporate interoperable security services into the remote branch. SD-WAN services can also enable interoperability with a nearly endless range of security services through deployment as a virtual network function (VNF) on the cloud platform or a universal CPE.
Service chaining of traffic to a broad range of security services is another way that SD-WAN adds value to interoperability. Through simplified policy-based forwarding, users can deploy security services within the CPE as a virtual cloud service or through more traditional means in physical centralized data centers and regional hubs.
Interoperability and Policy Services
Another objective for SD-WAN is to facilitate interoperability with a variety of orchestration frameworks. SD-WAN services often achieve this through a combination of direct deployment as a VNF or through control plane abstractions. SD-WAN solutions can also facilitate policy interoperability within chained services, as demonstrated with the security services example above.
SD-WAN solutions not only provide effective service chaining to cloud-deployed functions across the WAN, but can also offload certain functions prior to forwarding traffic. SD-WAN can be used to coordinate policy across multiple branches and the cloud, allowing for effective service chaining while optimizing network resource usage for improved performance and reliability.
Interoperability and Cloud Platforms
Interoperability with SP and CSP cloud platforms is another goal of SD-WAN, especially as enterprise applications continue their ongoing migration to the cloud. Such migratory patterns often add significant complexity to provisioning virtual connections from remote branch sites to cloud sites.
Cloud-hosted SD-WAN “head-end” nodes can help connect SD-WAN enabled branches to IaaS data centers in a secure and automated manner, providing balanced connectivity between different service providers and cloud data center locations.
These four examples of interoperability demonstrate the impact of SD-WAN on enterprises and service providers. Contact eXemplify today to learn more about how SD-WAN can benefit your enterprise.