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SDN: Easy as WAN, 2, 3

Apr 7, 2016
Timon Sloane
Timon Sloane About the author

Sanjay Uppal discusses the three main benefits to leveraging SDN in WAN operations. 

[caption id="attachment_2111" align="alignleft" width="247"]SDN is Number WAN 3 jpg Image: Google[/caption]

Enterprise wide area networks (WANs) are expensive, their bandwidth is often used inefficiently, and they offer few automation capabilities. For enterprises with many branch offices these deficiencies inhibit the advancement of branch-office capabilities, but SDN presents an opportunity for improvement. This combination, known as SDN WAN or SD-WAN, is one of the fastest growing SDN application areas. By separating the data plane from the control plane, SDN helps distributed enterprises automate network provisioning and gain flexibility in the use of the links between their offices and data centers or cloud locations.

SDN improves WAN operations through three main benefits:

1. Cost savings

By applying SDN to the WAN, organizations can rely more on wired and wireless broadband and augment expensive, private MPLS connections. SD-WAN enables organizations to centrally manage and automate configurations of WAN Edges, reducing both opex and transmission cost while maintaining performance. Device costs and connectivity costs, which are hard costs typically associated with MPLS, can drop dramatically with SD-WAN.

2. Greater flexibility

A company’s WAN achieves greater flexibility by applying the agility of SDN. This allows for augmentation or sometimes replacement of MPLS with any form of connectivity, automating the process and allowing the enterprise to rapidly adopt innovative WAN technologies. SD-WAN’s ability to manage multiple types of connections – from MPLS to broadband to LTE to those not yet invented – enables increased optimization and customization (for different branch-office needs).

3. Increased productivity

With greater optimization comes increased productivity and faster movement for applications.  For example, higher priority can be given to a business-critical application over another, ensuring smooth business operations regardless of bandwidth demands. Also, WAN management and control capabilities improve, reducing the need for network professionals to visit branch locations. And note that new vCPE technologies offer the enterprise more options for carrier management of the WAN. With a Cloud based architecture, SD-WAN also improves the productivity of applications that are hosted in the Cloud either in Public or Private locations.

As more in the industry start to recognize these benefits, it’s clear that SD-WAN adoption will continue to grow. Are you planning to take advantage of SD-WAN? What’s driving your migration? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

- Sanjay Uppal, Co-Founder & CEO, VeloCloud Networks

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Timon SloaneVP, Marketing & Ecosystem
Timon Sloane is the vice president of marketing and ecosystem of the Open Networking Foundation (ONF). He leads the organization’s efforts building an open source ecosystem, thus helping to enable broad transformation of the networking industry through the adoption open source business practices.