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How to implement SD WAN architecture the right way

Published: January 8, 2020

It’s a fact: yesterday’s network simply isn’t adequate for today’s most pressing business use cases. Mobile workers, cloud computing, real-time applications, and IoT devices at the edge of the network are all redefining the way network administrators must think about the way they design and build networks. 

As a result, more and more network administrators are turning to SD WAN and virtualization to help optimize their network infrastructure. This allows them to use software instead of hardware to route data across multiple transport options based on changes in demand, application needs, and network quality, while providing granular visibility into the performance of the network.

With the ability to control the network from a single pane of glass, SD WAN helps make network admins far more effective while eliminating the need to manage and maintain extra hardware.

However, not every SD WAN implementation is created equal. When exploring what SD WAN can do for your enterprise, it’s essential that you design and implement your SD WAN architecture to fit your unique business challenges. 

There are three ways you can approach SD WAN architecture, each with various benefits:

Architecture #1: On-premise SD WAN

For companies who host their applications on-premise, it’s vital that branch offices have reliable connectivity to the data center. In this scenario, SD WAN would be used to connect and manage traffic to the data center and branch offices. This would prioritize business-critical or real-time traffic like video and voice to more effectively flow back and forth between the data center and all your branches. Meanwhile, the public internet can be used to free up bandwidth by handling less-critical applications like email. In addition to overall higher performance, this set up will also provide cost-effective, real-time redundancy in an emergency by providing multiple active-active paths that your on-premise data can take.

Architecture #2: Cloud-enabled SD WAN

Many enterprises are now running large portions of their business using applications in the cloud such as Office 365, Google, AWS and other Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions. For branch offices, it often makes more sense to directly connect to the cloud instead of relying inefficient backhaul through the data center. In this business scenario, the SD WAN solution would be configured to securely route cloud traffic directly to the company’s cloud providers through the public internet. Application data would go back and forth directly between branches and the cloud, while still utilizing MPLS to connect the data center to branches.

Architecture #3: Cloud-enabled Plus Backbone SD WAN

A company running lots of real-time traffic that is sensitive to latency and packet loss, such as voice, video, and virtual desktop applications, requires more reliable bandwidth than what the public internet can offer. Much like option #2, most cloud data would go directly from the branch to the cloud provider to improve access and performance for cloud applications. However, with this architecture, high-bandwidth traffic would primarily route through the private MPLS backbone.

Which Architecture is Right for You?

With each of these architectures, there are multiple connectivity options, such as MPLS, dedicated internet, broadband and 4G (and soon 5G) that you can mix and match depending on location and challenges you are trying to solve. And with the flexibility of SD WAN it does not need to be one size fits all.  Based on the individual needs of a location a hybrid network can be implemented mixing premise and cloud based solutions. To determine the architecture and options that are right for your enterprise, you’ll want to evaluate the following factors:

  • Number of remote sites: When determining your SD WAN needs, start by calculating the maximum number of remote sites in your organization. The more sites you have, the more complex your architecture may be. At the same time, complex architectures may mean that you need to put more care into building a network that provides flexibility, agility and redundancy. 

  • Your current and anticipated bandwidth needs: Make sure you know how many end users and applications you need to support, both now and in the future. How many users, where they are, and what apps they use will play a key role in designing your SD WAN architecture. For example, a remote site with its own on-premise applications will have very different needs than another remote site that relies on cloud applications, while heavy-duty applications like video collaboration tools or Big Data analytics will require more reliable bandwidth than applications like email.

  • The current state of your network architecture: You’ll be able to migrate to SD WAN without the need to tear out or replace existing infrastructure, so you can leverage what you have. However, keep in mind that SD WAN can only optimize your existing infrastructure. It can’t turn a poorly-designed network into a good network. Before you go too far in your SD WAN journey, take the time to understand the state of your network architecture, and then look for ways to deploy SD WAN most efficiently. 

Migrate to an intelligent hybrid network with ease with Verizon. We can help you simplify your ability to migrate to an intelligent hybrid network that integrates MPLS as well as broadband, wireless or other network services into your corporate WAN.

 Learn more about Verizon’s Virtual Network Services – SD WAN.