Software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) has been increasingly deployed among enterprises adopting cloud solutions and other technology that produces new complexities for the network. While it offers better control and visibility, as well as the ability to automatically route network traffic based on software requirements, many enterprises also expect improved performance.
Optimized performance with SD-WAN is possible, but only if you implement application-aware network strategies that can identify applications and then classify them to optimize performance on a user basis. The following criteria are necessary for application-aware SD-WAN:
Application visibility: This provides insight into how applications are being used and by whom. It also equips operations teams to identify any problems and quickly move them to resolution. In order to deliver the best possible experience, network administrators need to know which applications are running and their performance levels in order to deliver an optimized experience.
Quality of Service: Administrators need to be able to prioritize critical applications over recreational ones, with the network automatically routing network traffic based on this distinction. If this is not done through automated processes, the process would require manual adjustments as the environment undergoes changes. While this may have worked a decade ago when changes were infrequent, the current, fast-changing network requires agility.
Dynamic path selection: SD-WAN must be programmed so that traffic is automatically rerouted when it encounters congestion or another problem in the network. Based on pre-determined policies, the network will route traffic to another pathway and the end user never knows that there was congestion or another problem in the network.
WAN security: This secures applications that are being delivered over internet pathways. As enterprises are doing more internet breakout at their branches, enterprises need to incorporate security tools at the edge or through cloud solutions.
WAN optimization: This step improves the performance of non-real-time applications and reduces the amount of bandwidth required. It also allows the enterprise to delay network upgrades, because it provides better performance over slow links. An enterprise accessing cable, wireless, DSL and other types of broadband can nevertheless deliver consistent performance to end users, even if the sizes of the pathways vary.
If you’re seeking improved performance from SD-WAN, these are the necessary steps to realizing that goal. When implementing these criteria, it’s common to wonder which is the step you should prioritize or whether there is some benefit in utilizing two or three of the steps. In order to realize application-aware performance with SD-WAN, it is critical that all five criteria be in place.
Application-aware SD-WAN may be your next step, or you may be in the initial stages of exploring the possibility of an SD-WAN deployment at your enterprise. Contact us at Clarksys to assist you in getting the best possible performance from your network.