The SD-LAN Revolution: Optimizing Enterprise Networks
By now, most of us are familiar with SDN (Software Defined Networks), which promotes self-organizing, self-healing, self-correcting, and ultimately self-optimizing networks. Meanwhile, SD-LAN is a related solution that is newer and increasingly under discussion. SD-LAN builds upon the principles of SDN and SD-WAN to create a new approach to adaptable, flexible, and cost-effective wireless and wired access networks. This four-part blog series lays out the evolution from SDN to SD-LAN as well as the benefits of both.
To kick things off, let’s discuss enterprise wired and wireless networks. These environments are facing increased requirements as a result of expanding ecosystems of users, devices, and applications. At the same time, the increased nuance in network architectural options can make network infrastructure decisions daunting for enterprises considering network refreshes and greenfield deployments.
Enterprise IT decision makers must consider the following factors, among others:
- Everything is connected. Devices, applications, and “things” clamor for connectivity and require nuanced mechanisms to ensure that the network is secure and properly supporting business requirements. There is a need to accommodate an increasingly complex ecosystem of public cloud applications and network services and an impending onslaught of connected “things” soon to hit many wireless networks. Enterprises must carefully allocate bandwidth, set policy, and enforce security, all while ensuring high network performance and scalability.
- Comfort with the cloud is at an all-time high. Persistent concerns about the security, reliability, and scalability of cloud-managed architectures are gradually dissipating. Even enterprises that have additional concerns around security and data privacy are taking a second look at private cloud technologies. As related to enterprise campus networking, cloud-managed technologies are among those experiencing the most significant growth. For example, the market for cloud-managed enterprise WLAN infrastructure is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24.5% from 2015 to 2020. Other forms of cloud-managed enterprise networking, such as cloud-managed LAN and SD-WAN, are gaining traction as well.
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- SDN enters the campus. SDN refers to the abstraction of the data plane from the control plane of a network through the use of a software controller. Initially propagating through the datacenter, SDN for the enterprise campus has recently entered the mainstream. SDN promises to create new levels of network orchestration, automation, security, and policy enforcement while promising increased agility so that the network can respond more nimbly to changes in business requirements.
In my next post, I will drill down and make a list of what network decision makers should look for in a software-defined enterprise wired and wireless LAN solution.