To understand SD-LAN, let’s backtrack a bit and look at the architecture and technologies that led to its emergence.
Software-defined networking (SDN) is an architecture that decouples the network control and forwarding functions, enabling network control to become directly programmable and the underlying infrastructure to be abstracted for applications and network services.
This allows network engineers and administrators to respond quickly to changing business requirements because they can shape traffic from a centralized console without having to touch individual devices. It also delivers services to where they’re needed in the network, without regard to what specific devices a server or other device is connected to.
Functional separation, network virtualization, and automation through programmability are the key technologies.
But SDN has two obvious shortcomings:
Like SDN, software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) separates the control and data planes of the WAN and enables a degree of control across multiple WAN elements, physical and virtual, which is otherwise not possible.
However, while SDN is an architecture, SD-WAN is a buyable technology.
Much of the technology that makes up SD-WAN is not new; rather it’s the packaging of it together – aggregation technologies, central management, the ability to dynamically share network bandwidth across connection points.
Its ease of deployment, central manageability, and reduced costs make SD-WAN an attractive option for many businesses, according to Gartner analyst Andrew Lerner, who tracks the SD-WAN market closely. Lerner estimates that an SD-WAN can be up to two and a half times less expensive than a traditional WAN architecture. SD-LAN is taking complex technology to solve complex problems, but allowing IT departments to work faster and smarter in the process.
SD-LAN builds on the principles of SDN in the data center and SD-WAN to bring specific benefits of adaptability, flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and scale to wired and wireless access networks.
All of this happens while providing mission-critical business continuity to the network access layer.
Put simply: SD-LAN is an application- and policy-driven architecture that unchains hardware and software layers while creating self-organizing and centrally-managed networks that are simpler to operate, integrate, and scale.
1) Application optimization prioritizes and changes network behavior based on the apps
2) Secure, identity-driven access dynamically defines what users, devices, and things can do when they access the SD-LAN.
3) Adaptive access self-optimizes, self-heals, and self- organizes wireless access points and access switches.
4) Centralized cloud-based network management reduces cost and complexity of network operations with a centralized public or private cloud networking.
5) Open APIs with programmable interfaces allow tight integration of network and application infrastructures.
As you can see, there is a lot that goes into making SD-LAN work. It’s taking complex technology to solve complex problems, but allowing IT departments to work faster and smarter in the process.