What is SD-WAN?
Software Defined WAN or SD-WAN, is an emerging networking technology that has evolved from Software Defined Networking (SDN).
SD-WAN is designed to gather intelligence about your circuits, whether public, private, or a combination, and then make intelligent routing decisions based on the performance of each connection. This is in contrast to traditional routing which, because it only gets its next hop information at layer 3, is totally ignorant to the health of any given path or circuit. The result is a brilliant new networking solution that improves the performance of Cloud applications like Cloud Phones and Hosted Video, while allowing for the replacement of expensive and slow legacy MPLS-type private connectivity. Users of SD-WAN gain consistently stable, high performance access to critical applications, whether located on a server in a headquarters location or in the Cloud.
Simple, right? If not, think of it this way: You can wait 5 seconds for an email to reach your colleague after you press the send button right? Sure you can. What's 5 a second delay when receiving an email? You cannot, however, wait 5 seconds for the words you speak into your phone to be heard on the other end. D------oes th-th-tha-------t make se------nse?
Hopefully it is clear why SD-WAN is important for modern businesses, especially those leveraging the Cloud. Now we just need to select a vendor...
Selecting the Right Vendor for SD-WAN
Understanding SD-WAN is one thing, selecting a vendor (specific manufacturer or software provider), and a partner to help you deploy it, is a different story.
SD-WAN can still be considered an emerging technology, so the way in which each vendor approaches design is quite different. Some offerings are laser focused on displacement of the legacy MPLS networks; others are zeroed in on making connectivity to SaaS applications very reliable; still others offer some combination of these two principles in a hybrid solution. Understanding the way an SD-WAN solution operates is critical to identifying the topology that will fit into any given business strategy. The following sections are focused on two SD-WAN vendors that Matrix has identified as top players in the industry: Bigleaf and VeloCloud. Although both solutions are “SD-WAN,” their strategy for providing services is very different.
Why Bigleaf Networks for SD-WAN Deployments?
Bigleaf's SD-WAN solution is the next generation of Internet optimization.
Bigleaf Networks has a unique approach to SD-WAN, self-described as “Cloud-first.” Bigleaf’s nationwide network includes a multi-carrier, fully-redundant backbone, and 5 data centers around the US: Seattle, Los Angeles, Dallas, Chicago, and New York. Bigleaf's approach to SD-WAN is to emulate their architecture after the natural architecture and intelligence found in leaves – their veins provide redundancy to all areas of the leaf, and the distribution of nutrients is load balanced. Bigleaf applies these same organic principles to your Internet connections. Bigleaf uses Software Defined Networking technology to tunnel your traffic over the leaf “veins” (your multiple Internet connections) between our gateway clusters and our on-site router in your building. From there, Bigleaf provides you a single optimized and redundant handoff.
One truly unique approach to Bigleaf's architectural strategy is that this appliance is “in front” of the existing router/firewall, running in tandem. Compare this to nearly every other SD-WAN solution, which wants to be the router/firewall. In the Bigleaf solution, you have the freedom to easily maintain any existing firewall. As the Bigleaf appliance absorbs your existing WAN IPs, they assign you an IP(s) out of their data centers. Their appliance creates transparent tunnels to one of their data centers over the Internet circuits, at which point all traffic egresses from your firewall and emerges onto the Internet at the Bigleaf data centers.
Cool right!?! We think so -- but if it is still a little fuzzy, check out this great video produced by our partners at Bigleaf that explains exactly why Bigleaf Networks is right choice for your modern office environment:
Why VeloCloud for SD-WAN Deployments?
The perfect SD-WAN solution for multi-site organizations wanting ultimate visibility.
VeloCloud has built an SD-WAN solution incorporating site-to-site and site-to-Cloud solutions. Their solution involves an on-prem appliance called a VeloCloud Edge, NFV software called a VeloCloud Gateway, and the VeloCloud Orchestrator. The VeloCloud Gateways exist in data centers and on Cloud provider infrastructure. They are strategically placed with SaaS providers in mind, with their promise to have the VeloCloud Gateways within 5ms of the major SaaS providers. The VeloCloud Edge then uses SD-WAN technology to connect to the Gateways, intelligently getting your traffic to the SaaS providers, and to sites on the Internet at large. VeloCloud also has an interesting play in a multi-location WAN environment, as they can create tunnels between branch locations and a “hub” using multiple Internet circuits, or even a hybrid WAN using a private circuit and Internet circuit(s).