Do you need SD-WAN?

Published on December 11, 2018

Do you need SD-WAN?


    Previously, most corporate networks did not extend beyond the company's office, but today they are expanding to data centers, service providers and clouds. Clouds are becoming a popular destination for IT resources, applications, and services. According to analytical studies, almost 90% of companies at least some of the applications or part of the IT infrastructure are transferred to the cloud. At the same time, business’s dependence on reliable network connections is increasing, and the need for flexibility, scalability and efficiency of global networks (WAN), which are necessary for the operation of companies with a distributed structure, is growing. According to analysts, by 2025, 80% of companies will open new branches, and their business will be even more dependent on clouds. Businesses need a WAN that is as fast and reliable as a local area network.

    SD-WAN: Growth Factors


    These trends are driving the adoption of the SD-WAN (Software-Defined Wide Area Network) - software-configured wide area networks. SD-WAN - implementation of the concept of software-configured networks in relation to geographically distributed networks.

    Currently, more and more organizations are turning their attention to this technology, which makes it possible to realize a cost-effective solution for connecting a large number of users, devices and sites. Analysts predict a rapid growth of this segment. The readiness of companies to implement the SD-WAN technology is confirmed by surveys. According to IHS Market, 75% of companies have already tested SD-WAN solutions. Next in line are pilot projects and commissioning.

    According to IDC forecasts, the SD-WAN infrastructure organization market in the coming years will grow by an average of 40.4% per year, and will grow to 4.5 billion dollars by 2022. Cisco has the largest market share, VMware takes the second place . They are followed by Silver Peak, Riverbed, Aryaka, Nokia and Versa.

    In 2017, this market grew by 83.3% to $ 833 million. Due to the rapid introduction of these technologies by telecom operators, the SD-WAN segment will continue to grow actively. According to the Frost & Sullivan global survey, SD-WAN is in the Top3 priority of company executives, along with hybrid cloud services and application security. The survey showed that 33% of enterprises deployed or are in the process of deploying SD-WAN, and 61% intend to deploy SD-WAN over the next two years.

    Benefits of the approach


    Among the advantages of SD-WAN, respondents point out: ensuring business continuity, network and application reliability; compliance with security policies for applications and users; high performance network and applications.


    How SD-WAN affects WAN functions. According to the Frost & Sullivan survey, 69% intend to replace existing branch-level routers with SD-WAN solutions, 67% plan to use WAN optimization functions integrated into SD-WAN, 62% intend to replace specialized branch security devices with cloud services and SD-WAN solutions.

    The IDC survey revealed the following main reasons for the introduction of SD-WAN. 36% of respondents cite the key factor in network load optimization, 31% in ensuring uniform application security, 28% integration with existing WAN networks, and another 28% improvement in automation and the ability to allocate resources on their own. According to analysts, the SD-WAN infrastructure and services market will reach $ 8 billion by 2021.

    SD-WAN networks are replacing obsolete traditional geographically distributed networks. According to Gartner, more than 36% of large companies plan to start using SD-WAN this year. And every year the number of SD-WAN networks will grow by an average of 65%.

    So what is SD-WAN, what tasks it solves and what is it used for, for which companies is this technology suitable for and what does it provide? How fit is your organization?

    Why SD WAN?


    Using low-cost Internet channels and programmable features, SD-WAN simplifies configuration and improves network scalability, providing the necessary performance and monitoring tools. Many SD-WAN solutions now provide efficient tools for managing a distributed network.

    SD-WAN is a cost reduction and much faster implementation compared to building an MPLS network, increasing productivity without investing in network bandwidth expansion, centralized management with remote monitoring functions and high flexibility, advanced resource provisioning capabilities.

    Cost of solution


    The cost of Internet channels is constantly decreasing, the available bandwidth increases. Often in quality they are not inferior to a dedicated L3VPN channel with a guaranteed level of service by the operator. SD-WAN allows you to opt out of renting expensive L3VPN channels and use Internet channels from different providers while maintaining the required quality of service.

    In this case, the cost is much lower than with traditional approaches to data transfer. Therefore, more and more companies are using SD-WAN to connect geographically distributed workplaces and branches.


    With the advent of SD-WAN solutions, it became possible to refuse to rent expensive L3 VPN channels and use Internet channels from different providers while maintaining the required quality of service. Network equipment receives all necessary settings from the cloud.

    Network performance


    SD-WAN improves network performance and creates a secure network infrastructure with controlled bandwidth and traffic policies that can be quickly and centrally configured.

    Optimization of the WAN using various technologies and dynamic route selection provide high reliability and maximum network performance. The latter is no less important, because according to the Worldwide Broadband Speed ​​League report, the average speed of broadband global networks (WAN) is a little over 9 Mbit / s, while the local area network (LAN) is 10 Gbit / s.

    Dynamic routing


    One of the important advantages of SD-WAN is the improvement of the quality of IT services through the dynamic routing of applications along the most efficient connections. To implement the SD-WAN model, you can use any channels: L3VPN, Internet, LTE, etc. The SD-WAN network constantly monitors the status of all channels using various parameters and switches the traffic of critical applications to another available channel if the communication quality is below a predetermined value.

    SD-WAN also shifts the focus from packet routing to application support: network resources are allocated for specific tasks. As a result, the network becomes more flexible and efficient. A detailed analysis of the applications used allows you to more efficiently allocate resources, which has a positive effect on network performance, and optimize the business processes of geographically distributed enterprises. Dynamic route selection is based on intelligently determining network latency, jitter, and packet loss frequency.

    Unified Centralized Management


    The unified SD-WAN infrastructure enables centralized management of service quality policies and standards, eliminating the need for time-consuming manual configuration. Convenient centralized management of the SD-WAN network makes it possible to abandon the complex management of each network device via the command line interface.

    Thanks to the ZTP (Zero Touch Provisioning) functionality, network devices are plugged into the data network on a plug-and-play basis. For example, the SD-WAN controller can automatically configure the router according to the parameters set by the administrator. Vendors use different implementations of this approach, but all of them are designed to simplify the connection and launch of new equipment as much as possible.

    The larger the network, the more complex the configuration of the network equipment, its configuration and ensuring its consistency. However, flexible network adaptation to support various services requires configuration and configuration changes.

    SD-WAN allows you to easily create settings for routers of any complexity. You can change them very easily and quickly in accordance with current needs. The graphical interface and application of templates allows you to minimize errors in the settings of QoS, routing and information security policies.

    According to the SalesForce survey, 83% of companies from the small and medium-sized business segment in the United States do not have an IT specialist on staff. SD-WAN gives you the opportunity to spend a minimum of time on setting up and maintaining equipment and focus on business issues. Thanks to the centralized management from the cloud, it became possible to connect devices to the network without the involvement of highly qualified personnel. SD-WAN - easy deployment of networks in a distributed branch network, cloning network settings with a simple click of the mouse button.

    What about security?


    Efficient and full-featured security is recognized as an important element of the SD-WAN network. One of the problems of the model described above is the lack of an effective information security strategy on a network scale that is adaptable to changes in it.

    Some SD-WAN solutions use external security systems, which often complicates administration and limits performance. Such systems are difficult to adapt to changes in the WAN architecture. Integrated security is preferred. Currently, there is a growing demand for so-called secure SD-WAN solutions (Secure SD-WAN), in which SD-WAN functionality is integrated into the solution, for example, into a firewall.

    In addition, SD-WAN uses end-to-end encryption with endpoint authentication. Detailed traffic data also allows administrators to quickly detect and stop cyber attacks.

    Where is the cloud?


    A number of vendors of SD-WAN solutions use foreign clouds, such as AWS, to host their services. How reliable is it? In the light of recent problems with access due to attempts to block the Telegram messenger in the Russian Federation, this question may arise for many. And whether there will be problems from a technical point of view?

    In fact, the value of the geographical location of the provider has now decreased, many services can be organized from anywhere in the world. As a result of the development of the main communication channels, the data transfer rate reaches 10 Gbit / s with an ultrafast connection of 10–13 ms (average delay time). The use of foreign data centers may actually have several advantages for the customer. In such a situation, he is insured against the risks associated with changes in an unpredictable business environment, force majeure or unfair competition, arrest or seizure of physical servers. A cloud abroad will minimize such risks.

    How necessary is your company's SD-WAN?


    When reviewing this question, ask yourself how important network performance is to your business. Does it affect employee performance? How often do users have problems with the speed or stability of the network? How important is network security, given the data your company works with? Does your company plan to use cloud applications and services that can develop faster and more successfully using SD-WAN, such as SaaS and IaaS?

    Increasing the level of automation in the deployment and operation of networks, speeding up the introduction of new network services, as well as a significant reduction in the cost of maintaining them, are significant advantages.

    Today, there are cloud network solutions SD-WAN, allowing companies to take the first step in implementing the concept of SDN. Such software and hardware solutions allow you to take a fresh look at the deployment and management of distributed networks. One of them is the Nebula SD-WAN. It provides the possibility of building an inexpensive high-performance WAN with unified management, allows you to quickly solve most of the issues of management and monitoring of distributed networks.

    SD-WAN from Zyxel


    In October 2018, Zyxel introduced the Nebula SD-WAN solution for building an inexpensive high-performance WAN. It supports a line of Zyxel VPN series firewalls and allows you to solve most of the issues of managing and monitoring distributed networks.


    Nebula SD-WAN implements unified network management via the Nebula Orchestrator web portal.

    Combined with Zyxel VPN series firewalls, this solution greatly simplifies user experience, eliminates telephone breaks, provides stable secure connection and centralized management. When replacing the MPLS network with SD-WAN, the investment in the Nebula SD-WAN is fully paid off in 5 years.

    The Nebula Orchestrator management portal works with Zyxel VPN50 / 100/300 series products for which the SD-WAN Pack License is available. This package includes auto-configuration (zero-touch provisioning) and AutoVPN, eliminating the need to keep your IT specialist on each site to maintain a WAN connection.

    Dynamic route selection improves service quality, providing switching to a faster channel when the data rate in the main channel drops. Connection security is improved through the use of VPN, firewalls, detection and prevention of suspicious behavior, application patrol functions, geo-policy and content filtering.

    Traffic analysis provides control of user actions with segmentation by applications, sites and other criteria. With the NebulaFlex, users can switch between standalone mode and mode of operation under the control of Orchestrator. NebulaFlex devices support both autonomous control and control from the cloud. Among them - switches and access points.

    Nebula SD-WAN provides a significant increase in performance and productivity of all network users, solves many problems of functioning of distributed networks faced by companies with multiple sites, connected Internet channels, increases the security and speed of connection, and by using WAN optimization and dynamic route eliminates downtime, prevents disconnection during phone calls and video conferences, improves the quality of communication at sites where there is no stable access to Internet.