The Power of SD-Branch
With the developments in mobile technologies and increased usage of wired/wireless network to stay connected, we have witnessed some major changes in expectations and arise of some needs. Since almost every entity like students in school, patients in a hospital or guests in a hotel can simultaneously share the same network which internal operations are also handled, some concerns like efficiency, security, filtering, QoS have to be addressed. Additionally, in some cases like contents should be reachable inside/outside of the facility for schools etc, optimizing the network to have a scalable connection with good performance plays a key role.
The SD-branch management by combining of two network management concepts SD-LAN and SD-WAN is one of the most efficient approaches to cover network requirements. While SD-WAN side offers a solution on generic concepts like efficiency, isolation, QoS, security; SD-LAN side addresses internal network requirements like Wired/Wireless device management, Guest WiFi, etc. One other benefit of approaching with SD-branch is that the network traffic information can be monitored on every step from client to the last point traffic leaves the premises and also between branches.
In order to explain the requirements that can be addressed, we can divide them as SD-WAN and SD-LAN related;
Let's start with SD-WAN side;
On the first look, SD-WAN technology breaks the dependancy of expensive MPLS connectivity and gives the flexibility to use multiple light-weight connectivity types. The benefit of not depending on the expensive MPLS circuits increases with each site that is included in the connection pool.
Another benefit is the applicability of the policies independent from the number of branches. The operational cost can be reduced exponentially while the number of branches is increased. This advantage applies to the first setup and each time a configuration modification is required company-wide.
In order to exemplify, let's think about a company with 10 branches which would like to apply the same configurations to each branch in order to identify network prioritization for traffic, circuit selections for different types of applications, filter certain IPs, URLs. On legacy setup, there should be someone or a team to make these configurations exactly the same for each branch with error-prone CLI commands. However, the one-time designed configurations can be easily applied to all branches without any issue. Therefore, by transitioning to SD-WAN technologies, we can easily see the improvement in time/resource utilization for this 10 branch company. Just imagine 100 or 1000 branches!
These are two of the most critical reasons for the rise of SD-WAN technologies and why we are going to experience it more and more every day. These undeniable benefits make SD-WAN technology a requirement to any vertical segment using the network.
When we think about the SD-LAN side;
There are some advanced technologies provided by leading companies like HPE Aruba, Cisco to manage & monitor the network infrastructure for a better internal and guest network experience. Such technologies optimize the network from switch port to access point with different settings so that clients can be authenticated on network and the data traffic can be transmitted as fast & secure.
Managing the switch gives the flexibility to define an internal path to different client types. Based on the configuration on each port, clients can be directed to certain ports by getting the connection from different network devices like access points. Internal (company employees or devices) and external clients (guests or demo devices) can be separated physically on the switch or virtually by configured VLANs. This organizes and optimizes the network usage in the branch.
Access Point (AP) management adds another level in order to provide additional services to the companies. When the number of branches to deploy the APs is taken into consideration, the AP management should be as smooth as possible to reduce the operational cost.
Employee or guest networks can be published on APs to provide the connection with quota, duration and bandwidth limitations and other value-added services like WiFi/location analytics, WiFi marketing like advertisement, survey, campaign on the captive portal.
With integrated beacons, one other aspect related to AP management is the usage of BLE-based technologies like asset tracking. While important assets can be tracked via APs on the premises, workflows can also be assigned to get notification whenever the asset leaves the premises or should be some other part of the facility.
While some vendors are focusing on one side of the management, some vendors trying to provide SD-Branch management by combining both SD-WAN and SD-LAN side. The combination is the best practice when enhanced with good user experience and mobile application because this means that the users can use all benefits from a single interface with minimum effort.
Faraday Networks has been focused on SD-LAN side to provide all core functionalities and value-added services with a single & simple interface by integrating controller or cloud technologies from a range of vendors. However, with the recent development, Faraday has released the integration with Versa Networks, one of the best SD-WAN vendors on the market, to offer all the advantages of SD-Branch management.
Besides offering more functionality, there are two main reasons to include SD-WAN management in our portfolio. First one is to spread the experience of this emerging technology to any company who wishes to leverage the advantages by making the setup and management so plain. The second one is to introduce a way to support SD-Branch functionalities in a vendor-independent fashion so that our customers will orchestrate their setup from the same interface for certain combinations on SD-LAN and SD-WAN vendors.