What Does SD-WAN Mean For You?

by | Mar 15, 2018

I’m really excited about SD-WAN. As a technology, it fits exactly into the strength of Reliant’s solution: agility, reliability, and security through software automation. Most IT professionals know that the “SD” in SD-WAN stands for software-defined. What they may not realize is that the concept of having a network defined in software is something that Reliant has been doing for quite a while. Our DevOps based approach relies upon configuration as code that comprises networking, including IP addressing, routing, firewall and network services such as DNS and DHCP. But SD-WAN takes this much further by providing a lot more functionality than the basic network stack that’s core to our solution. This is why we are currently integrating Reliant Platform with an SD-WAN solution.

SD-WAN solutions not only provide strong central management of the overall network topology but are both dynamically responsive to network changes and have the ability to prioritize traffic by application. They can also manage bandwidth and aggregate multiple circuits over a secure VPN. They are truly software solutions and run in virtual or cloud-based environments. This all maps very well to Reliant’s architecture.

SD-WAN products are the next generation replacement to the traditional fixed router/VPN appliance. This market was created and dominated by Cisco Systems beginning in 1993 when they introduced the 2500 series router. At their peak, I’d guess that Cisco probably covered nearly 90% of the wide area network market in the retail and hospitality vertical. But SD-WAN is disruptive and threatens the traditional network appliance market. SD-WAN solutions are much more agile than traditional routers – even cloud configurable solutions like Cisco’s Meraki line. In addition, they don’t require dedicated hardware – you can run them on a virtual machine. Freed from the constraints of having to invest and support custom hardware, SD-WAN vendors focus on making really good software that costs less than a traditional network appliance.

Real SD-WAN is built on the notion of Virtual Network Functions, or VNF. The VNF is the software component that runs in a virtual environment and provides the networking functionality. A VNF isn’t just about SD-WAN functionality. A VNF can be deployed for security, packet switching, or other network applications. VNF’s can also be combined in -what is called “service chaining.” As it happens, the core of Reliant’s solution is a virtualization environment and our hypervisor is extremely well suited to run a VNF. And this is exactly what we are now doing. We’ve selected a leading SD-WAN vendor to partner with and are currently testing the integration. The combination of their SD-WAN VNF and our virtualization and software delivery means extraordinary new networking and security capabilities in a super-agile, low-cost package. We are really excited about this new development and look forward to sharing more about it in the coming weeks.