How to choose an SD-WAN Architecture

SD-WAN technology is the hot topic being discussed right now by business leaders and network administrators looking to implement networking solutions that can help take their enterprises into the future. However, implementing the right solution and choosing the right provider is an important step that needs to be carried out carefully. One of the most important things that decision-makers need to consider is how to select an SD-WAN solution based on the type of architecture they need.

There are three core SD-WAN architectures that businesses have the option of choosing from and we start off with on-premise-only SD-WAN architecture as the first type.

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On-premise-only architecture

This SD-WAN architecture is a solution that is predicated on the effectiveness of an “SD-WAN box”, which is usually a plug ‘n play router that is constantly conducting real-time data traffic path identification and shaping at each of an enterprise’s sites. This type of architecture is unlike the other two types, which will be discussed following this, given that on-premises-only SD-WAN architecture does not connect to a dedicated cloud gateway – it only connects to the various other sites affiliated to a specific enterprise.

Here are the core benefits of having this type of SD-WAN architecture:

Lower Costs:

Overall cost reduction, given that enterprises would have not have to spend excessively, if at all, on SD-WAN cloud-enablement bandwidth costs.

Direct traffic in real-time:

The ability to direct and shape traffic in real-time, resulting in an overall improvement of the performance of all WAN applications.

Facilitate multiple ISPs:

The ability to facilitate multiple internet service providers connected to the enterprise’s firewall via ISP load-balancing.

Better recovery and backup:

On-premises-only also has significantly better recovery and backup functionality, in the event of an unforeseeable circumstance like a natural disaster.

What type of enterprises benefit from this? If your enterprise is heavily dependent on cloud applications, this architecture is not for you. On-premises-only SD-WAN architecture works very well with enterprises who host all their applications in-house and have a dedicated focus on connecting solely with their other sites.


Cloud-enabled SD-WAN architecture

Taking it a step further, cloud-enabled SD-WAN architecture factors in the benefits and features of on-premises-only, along with the added benefit of connecting to a virtual or cloud gateway. This means that enterprises would have the ability to benefit from the functionality we previously identified – real-time traffic directing and shaping and ISP load balancing, to name a few – as well as access to, increased performance, and reliability of cloud applications. Given that more businesses and enterprises are moving onto cloud-based applications, the demand for and adoption of this architecture is going to increase over time – an increased cloud focus is one of our major predictions for 2018.

Here are the core benefits of deploying this architecture type:

The exact same benefits of on-premise-only architecture:

Just like with the on-premises-only type, this cloud-enabled architecture can direct and shape traffic in real-time, better recovery and backup functionality, in the event of an unforeseeable circumstance like a natural disaster, and the ability to facilitate multiple internet service providers connected to the enterprise’s firewall via ISP load-balancing.

Cloud gateways for better performance:

Presence of cloud gateways to improve the overall performance of cloud applications.

Improved reliability:

Improved reliability and performance of cloud applications given that the cloud gateways are networked directly to major cloud providers like Office 365, Amazon Web Services, and Salesforce.

Keep sessions active during failure:

The ability of a cloud gateway to keep an application’s session active, in the event of an Internet circuit failure.

Rerouting to backup Internet circuits:

If an enterprise has a backup Internet circuit, the SD-WAN can reroute the cloud app instantly to it, – avoiding any interruptions to the session in the process.

 What types of enterprises benefit from this? Companies that run and depend on cloud applications, such as Office 365, AWS, Dropbox, Azure, Salesforce, would benefit significantly from this architecture. Cloud-enabled SD-WAN architecture is also capable of connecting to an enterprise’s other sites, which means it has the core benefits of an on-premise deployment, with added benefit of cloud capability – at a higher cost.


Cloud-enabled architecture with a “backbone”

With this architecture in place, enterprises would deploy similar technology in the form of an SD-WAN box that connects the enterprise and its sites – only this time, they would be linked directly to the SD-WAN provider’s nearest “point of presence (POP)”.

The effect of this is that an enterprise’s traffic would “hop” onto this private fibre optic backbone – guaranteeing the it low levels of latency, packet loss, and jitter. Just like with ordinary cloud-enabled architecture, this architecture also connects directly to major cloud application providers like Office 365 and AWS, which results in an overall improvement in performance and reliability.

Here are the additional benefits of having cloud-enabled plus backbone architecture (in addition to the benefits highlighted in the previous sections):

Improved network application performance:

Optimised and improved network application performance, given that the traffic rides on the SD-WAN provider’s backbone.

What types of enterprises benefit from this?

While not many providers currently facilitate this architecture, as SD-WAN continues to get deployed, we expect this to change significantly. Cloud-enabled plus backbone architecture is perfect for enterprises that 1) run a wide variety of real-time network applications, 2) are looking to completely scrap their MPLS network dependency to reduce costs, and, finally, 3) do not want their real-time traffic 100% dependent on public Internet – due to fears high latency, packet loss and jitter.


If you would like more information on how to pick an SD-WAN solution, the latest news, and the various types of architecture you need to consider prior to implementing SD-WAN at your business, get in touch with us.