Technology - SD-WAN for Agile and Cognitive Networking Solutions

Software-Defined Networking (SDN) and Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN) have reshaped networking from static, hardware-centric networking equipment to agile, cognitive, and software-driven networking solutions. Routers and firewalls no longer require custom silicon but can be implemented on architectures based on off-the-shelf x86 hardware. This new paradigm has enabled services that can be delivered via networking software and other network services built on top of these commodity hardware, enabling SD-WAN solutions.

Key Components of SD-WAN

SD-WAN includes localized common service components such as firewall, NAT, DHCP, and others. SD-WAN endpoints can communicate with other SD-WAN endpoints via SD-WAN overlay tunnels. These SD-WAN overlay tunnels constitute an important key component of any SD-WAN solution as they dictate how multiple WAN connections are stitched together to create an efficient and agile internet connection for the location.

SD-WAN Overlay Tunnels vs. Traditional VPN

SD-WAN overlay tunnels are similar to traditional VPN tunnels but with two primary and important differences:

  1. SD-WAN, unlike traditional VPN, is capable of aggregating two or more WAN resources within the tunnel.
  2. SD-WAN, unlike traditional VPN, is capable of implementing sophisticated algorithms that can steer IP packets between WAN paths for better performance and reliability.

Broadband Bonding: A Specific Type of SD-WAN Overlay Tunnel

Broadband Bonding is a specific type of SD-WAN overlay tunnel that has the ability to monitor various parameters on individual WAN transports (such as latency, packet loss, jitter, throughput, and various other parameters) and make intelligent per-packet routing decisions. This enables the aggregation of WAN links for a fatter IP tunnel that can be utilized even for a single flow.

VoIP Armor: Optimizing Voice-over-IP Performance

Another example of an SD-WAN overlay tunnel is VoIP Armor, whereby the SD-WAN tunnel optimizes the Voice-over-IP packets for the parameters that matter most for the VoIP application, namely, the Mean Opinion Score (MOS).

Distributed SD-WAN Tunnels for Optimized Application Performance

As illustrated in the diagram above, various distributed SD-WAN tunnels can exist between two endpoints (similar to how various VPNs can be built between two endpoints), with each SD-WAN overlay tunnel optimized for a specific class of applications. These SD-WAN tunnels, combined with layer 7 filtering and/or explicit traffic filtering policies on the end devices, assign each IP packet into the correct tunnel, optimizing overall performance. This directly translates into improved end-user experience.

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