Leveraging the Power of the Cloud with Cisco SD-WAN
Software Defined Networking (SDN) is the latest trend in networking circles. Software Defined WAN is a powerful way of applying software defined networking technologies to WAN connections. The fact that Cisco is moving from a hardware-oriented approach to a software- defined networking segment speaks volumes about the growing popularity of SDN technologies. The acquisition of Viptela SD-WAN by Cisco proves this point, bringing the powerful SD-WAN into the Cisco SDN portfolio. In the Gartner 2018 Magic Quandrant for Critical Capabilities for WAN Edge Infrastructure, Cisco was chosen as a leader. Not surprising considering the fact that Cisco has a flagship SDN product in the form of SD-WAN, formerly Viptela SD-WAN.
An Overview of Cisco SD WAN
The popularity of software defined networking systems can be attributed to their ability to separate the data and the control plane. The data plane shows the data is moving in the network while the control panel lets you control the path of each data type. Cisco SD-WAN takes this technology to the next level by customizing the networking product to deliver a comprehensive SDN tool that lets you efficiently monitor and manage the network data while orchestrating processes and optimizing the entire network performance of the infrastructure.
The control plane of Cisco SD-WAN is called vSmart– considered the core component of the system. This amazing feature enables administrators to centralize network management so that they can easily view entire network operations from a single dashboard. Be it authentication of devices that join the network, facilitating communication between vEdges based on predefined network policies or configuring general networking policies, vSmart does a great job in managing the network topology, levering the Overlay Management protocol.
vEdge is the component that runs network policies via vSmart to facilitate data communication within the network. vEdge can be a physical or a virtual router. Based on the policies, it creates LAN connections via interior or exterior gateway protocols such as BGP and OSPF. It can also create a connection with the MPLS provider. It maintains a seamless connection with vSmart panels and forwards data packets based on the vSmart instructions.
vManage is the management, and main, component of SD-WANthat offers a GUI-based dashboard wherein administrators can easily get clear insights into key network metrics and proactively make updates to network configurations. From a single pane, administrators can create policies, perform operations, such as code updates, and manage all network devices with ease. vSmart and vEdge configuration templates can be created and managed from vManage. Troubleshooting becomes easy as you check the DPI and cFlow information from a single dashboard.
vBond is the SD-WAN component that orchestrates network processes. It performs validation of the authenticity of vEdge routers and vSmart controllers while facilitating authenticated connections between them. Before connecting with vSmartcontrollers, vEdge routers connect temporarily to vBond.
Benefits of SD-WAN
Today, enterprises have multiple requirements when it comes to networking solutions. For instance, employees want BYOD policies while business executives require streaming content, high speed networks with greater bandwidth and a security team concerned about network security and compliance. At the same time, top management is worried about increasing costs and TCO. SD-WAN offers a comprehensive SDN tool that enables administrators to cost-effectively build an overlay network on top of any existing network and securely extend virtualization outside the office, while being able to rapidly deploy new apps or services.
Here are some of the key benefits offered by Cisco SD-WAN:
Gone are the days when administrators had to run around WAN devices to provision resources, make updates or troubleshoot issues. Cisco SD-WAN centralizes WAN management whereby administrators can view entire network operations on a single dashboard and instantly make changes. With automated zero-touch provisioning, networks can instantly scale up to meet severe traffic spikes.
SD-WAN network is transport-agnostic. It allows you to create a logical network overlay on any transport including MPLS, the internet, Metro Ethernet or LTE. With intelligent routing ability, administrators can separate network data and route it through multiple paths for greater application performance, reliability and increased bandwidths.
The network traffic is exponentially increasing and so are bandwidth expenses. Adding to the complexity is the influx of various types of devices, technologies and methodologies. Cisco SD-WAN transforms complex and expensive WAN networking into an easy and cost-effective networking solution by clearly differentiating the data and the control plane. A corporate network channel comprises different data types ranging from streaming video to simple text messages. While some of the data is mission-critical and sensitive, another portion might be a simple entertaining YouTube movie. SD-WAN enables you to manage this data at the application level wherein you can identify the type and nature of the data and route it through different channels. While sensitive data can travel through expensive MPLS channels, YouTube and social media data can go through a normal channel.
By segregating the data, businesses not only save time and operational costs, but they can also improve the quality of service by maintaining SLAs. Moreover, SD-WAN is available in flexible subscription tiers. According to Cisco ROI calculator, an average business that operates 50 sites with two Mbps bandwidth would spend around $2.5 million, which is a reduction of 66% when compared with traditional network management costs.
SD-WAN is a cloud-first SDN solution such that administrators can login to a web dashboard from any location, any device and at any time to monitor and manage the infrastructure. It allows businesses to securely extend their virtualization networks outside their data centers.
Simplified Network Management
SD-WAN is designed with ease of use in mind which means it is simple to operate. Today, administrators can instantly deploy every type of application on physical, virtual and cloud platforms within minutes, while deriving a consistent application performance. By utilizing the minimal bandwidth, you can securely connect users to applications and proactively monitor resource usage. With clear visibility, control and real-time analytics, you can optimize cloud network performance and increase business productivity at the same time. Be it physical or virtual, SD-WAN offers greater endpoint flexibility.