SD-WAN: An Emerging Business Opportunity

SD-WAN: An Emerging Business Opportunity

There has been increased scaling up using software to meet all technologies to optimize the requirement of the hardware and efficient use of that. The software forming the core of any technology is defining everything. As more and more improvement keeps happening, which results in disruption to existing technologies to not to create any legacy. New opportunities, enhanced business prospects. 

Software-defined network or SDN is an offshoot of such technology explosion using the software as its core in the telecom network. An architecture that aims to make networks agile and flexible. The goal of SDN is to improve network control by enabling enterprises and service providers to respond quickly to changing business requirements. The flexibility of the network becomes a predominant requirement to meet the changing business scenario, which is dynamically evolving. A challenge for the enterprise and service provider to keep in pace.

Key aspects that SDN uses are computer virtualization and the adoption of cloud delivery models. Virtualization and cloud technologies brought new levels of IT flexibility, efficiency and cost benefits while leaving the underlying networks unchanged. SDN becomes an advantage as it allows the solutions with a software-based solution on commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware platforms, networks that are programmable, agile and decoupled to keep pace with the innovations in enterprise IT.

Business expansion is relative to its increase in clientele. That brings in to enable more intrinsic customer experience for the business continuity. It is possible only by staying close to the customer, which translated to have more branch offices.

The branch office is expected to have the same network experience as the head office in terms of speed and agility. As mobile devices and new applications entered enterprise workloads, networks struggled to meet the demands placed upon them. That becomes the problem statement to look out for suitable network architecture.

Does traditional network architecture meet that requirement? Traditional WANs based on conventional routers are not cloud-friendly. They typically require backhauling all traffic – including that destined to the cloud – from branch offices to a hub or headquarters data center where advanced security inspection services can be applied. The delay caused by backhaul impairs application performance resulting in poor user experience and lost productivity.

The solution came through SD-WAN, which is an extension of SDN, which provides a software abstraction to create a network overlay and decouple network software services from underlying hardware WAN circuits. It allows controlling and managing their network more easily than has been possible with managing underlying hardware for WAN networks. This network overlay provides a common interface across different physical components to ease the overall network administration and enable network owners to develop their own infrastructure-independent applications.

SaaS and IaaS as services of Cloud computing domain provide third-party applications and virtualized computing resources over the internet respectively. The breakout to reach these applications over the internet (ISP) using virtualized resources is achieved through SD-WAN without compromising on the performance, control, and security.

SD-WAN abstracts network hardware into a control plane and multiple data planes that can be used with cloud-based management and automation to simplify the delivery of services to the branch office. This work is all done with the manageability, performance and reliability assurances that enterprises expect.

CISCO is a leading solution provider in this domain. With the acquisition of Viptela in 2017, it has rewritten the enterprise-networking blueprint with the new enhanced solution using SD-WAN. The various controllers ie V-Manager, V-Smart and V-Bond helped in connecting single and multi-tenants connecting to different clouds as to Cisco Cloud, Partner Cloud, and Private Cloud. In a typical MPLS network, the Internet is connected through SD-WAN edge router bypassing the MPLS network. This could be achieved by converting the existing L2 switch as an edge router for the Internet (INET) by upgrading with IOS-XE-SWAN without any hardware changes. The security is covered through CISCO umbrella and TALOS. The network intelligence is also possible by measuring the latency to make decisions for rerouting. Multiple architectures could be created as per the end enterprise network requirement.

Let us take a typical example of connectivity to an application in the cloud i.e. “Microsoft Office 365” by the branch office. Through the WAN Edge router, the internet breakout happens through the available circuits. DNS probing is customized with the IPs provided by Microsoft to reach the front doors of the application at the earliest. Based on this probing and when DNS is resolved, the circuit is chosen to use the best path. The DNS response is shared to the user and the session is created with the “Office 365 “. On reaching the front door, Microsoft takes care of assuring the best reachability to its application to the user.

The cloud-based applications are becoming the order of the day. More and more businesses are moving into it. With any new disruptive technology, existing incumbents and many adjacent solution providers go into a frenzy to gain a piece of the market. This activity is part of the IT hype cycle. However, partners who provide solutions with real, measurable benefits often emerge as industry leaders and go on to define the technology space. Certainly, CISCO is a leader in this segment.

Ease of deployment, central manageability, and reduced costs of ownership make SD-WAN an attractive option for many businesses. Gartner estimates that SD-WAN has less than 5% market share today, but predicts that up to 25% of users will manage their WAN through software within two years. Revenue from SD-WAN vendors is growing at 59% annually, and it is expected to become a $1.3 billion market by 2020. Certainly, a big business opportunity for enterprises and service providers.


“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity”. – Albert Einstein

( This article is shared by Ramesh Kuppuswamy, alumnus from the batch of  EEP 2008)