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SD WAN and 5G
Network Slicing:
and Benefits

Author: Mark Stone

IT teams face constant challenges when it comes to protecting increasingly complex networks from security breaches.

According to IBM, the average cost of a network security breach in 2020 was $3.86 million. What's more, the Verizon 2021 Data Breach Investigations Report found that 80% of breaches in 2020 involved personal data—opening organizations up to lawsuits, regulation violations and severe reputational damage.

When you consider that security breaches have increased by 11% since 2018 and 67% since 2014, according to Accenture, there's plenty of reason for concern.

One way to build extra security into our networks is through SD WAN and 5G network slicing. SD WAN stands for software-defined wide area network. As our data exists increasingly in the cloud and networks are more virtual, this technology is essential to keeping your networks protected.

In this article, we'll cover how it works and what you need to take action.

What is 5G network slicing?

Put simply, 5G network slicing is a way of creating multiple logical networks on a shared physical network. It involves separating a network into "slices"—each is its own isolated end-to-end network instance supporting its own specific use cases.

Each slice can be adjusted according to its requirements, like adding more bandwidth, for example, which can even take place in near-real time. Traffic from one slice doesn't interfere with any other slice—a crucial factor when it comes to security.

There are numerous benefits to 5G network slicing. Done right, it can reduce cost, improve performance, and protect sensitive data.

How do SD WAN and 5G network slicing provide additional layers of protection?

5G slicing separates network resources, allowing you to segment your network according to various criteria.

This separation of resources has important security implications. For instance, in the case of a cyber attack on a specific network slice, it could be possible to isolate and limit the attack to that given slice, thereby leaving other slices unaffected.

Another advantage of slicing is the ability to tailor each slice based on its individual requirements. For example, one slice might have higher security needs than other slices—perhaps the data it contains is simply more sensitive.

In this case, you can take an individual data stream and parse it into a specific, unique slice. Each slice has its own unique security requirements, which means more sensitive and mission-critical slices can be prioritized and routed most efficiently and safely. Typically, an SD WAN network is involved.

The role of SD WAN in 5G network slicing

SD WAN allows us to route traffic into 5G slices according to their specific requirements. In other words, SD WAN and 5G networks can steer traffic in the correct direction according to factors like business priority, risk, and changing network conditions.

During a cyber attack, for example, your SD WAN can direct traffic to a more secure slice and away from compromised ones. SD WAN is such a powerful tool because it can provide a secure encrypted overlay that is independent of transport, providing end-to-end security.

How to help improve SD WAN and 5G security

What do you need to implement SD WAN and 5G slicing in your organization and start accessing the many security benefits? There are a few important components you'll need to help improve SD WAN security.

Network function virtualization

Network function virtualization (NFV) is a necessary prerequisite for 5G slicing. This works by installing network function software onto the virtual machines on a virtualized commercial server instead of onto individual network devices.

The advantage here is that it uses software-defined networking instead of traditional hardware-based networks, allowing for lower operating costs and more granular and precise SD WAN security.

uCPE and vCPE

For SD WAN, the principle is the same: You're building a network that is no longer solely defined by hardware or physical devices. You can use a universal customer premises equipment (uCPE) appliance, a virtual customer premises equipment (vCPE) appliance, or a combination of the two.

uCPE integrates compute, storage and networking virtual resources, often on a single server, which then allows it to provide multiple network services like SD WAN, security, and 5G as virtual functions to a variety of sites on the same network. vCPE uses virtualized network functions to deliver services like security and connectivity using software instead of dedicated hardware devices.

By harnessing the power of 5G slicing, you can fortify your networks with an extra layer of security for your most mission-critical efforts. To do this in the most effective way possible, you need the right equipment and support.

A virtual SD WAN solution is designed to combine your public and private networks into a virtualized WAN solution with a wide range of benefits including SD WAN security through 5G slicing.

Discover how Verizon’s SD WAN virtualization solution can help you take your network intelligence and application delivery to the next level.