SD-WAN as Network Edge

The market momentum of SD-WAN has dramatically redefined the networking ecosystem in both architectural and management approaches in just few years. Indeed, SD-WAN has brought the benefits of improved real-time application performance and simplifying the WAN management and deployment. Along with the rising phenomenon of edge computing, SD-WAN appears to be on a continuously evolving technology as major industry leaders in this field have continued to expand its functionality and even its boundary, which some refer it as “Network Edge”.

When SD-WAN has evolved from WAN edge to “Network Edge”, it means that SD-WAN will expand its boundaries. For instance, recent SD-WAN solutions are integrated with compute, analytics, security and even capability of running multi-tenanted cloud. By expanding SD-WAN capabilities into “Network Edge”, service providers can support mission-critical applications for enterprises by offering networking and computing to the location where the application is performed.

For example, many of the enterprises adopting SD-WAN have already deployed edge devices for their branch networks. These hardware devices are usually the open white-box from third-party vendors, which are ideally compatible for edge computing. By implementing software-defined compute, network policies and security instructions, these white-box, edge devices can function like local cloud instead of just being an edge device. This has made possible with SD-WAN orchestration.

On the other hand, SD-WAN driven enterprises may also deploy a virtual gateway within proximity to the data center, where real application workload is generated, such as central cloud, SaaS (Software as a Service), IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) or PaaS (Platform as a Service). The virtual gateway (considered as vCPE/uCPE) will communicate with edge devices while performing the management and control of the traffic flowing from the edge to the cloud. This implementation would optimize the performance of the real application workload.

SD-WAN Becoming Platforms

There are a great number of industry leaders already deploying SD-WAN as the underlay for 5G infrastructure. In fact, due to the software-defined nature, this underlay will become software-programmable, instead of being fixed. In other words, traffic routing and bandwidth configuration can be executed through SD-WAN, rather than additional hardware equipments.

For corporations with multiple branches and offices, SD-WAN provides shortened deployment time to establish branch WAN connections. However, security concern may arise. Therefore, leading SD-WAN vendors have adopted the concept of VNF (virtual network function) to eliminate the potential expense to acquire purpose-built security equipments for each branch WAN. In fact, with VNFs on vCPE or uCPE, all the security and management functions are virtualized for the IT staff to visual the entire orchestration layers from the data center.

Hybrid Cloud and Multi-Cloud Convergence

For some enterprises, there could be hybrid cloud or multi-cloud scenarios. Their IT staff may store mission-critical applications and general data in separate cloud storages. For instance, general data is stored in the public cloud storage, while SaaS data is securely saved in the private cloud. In order to optimize the connections between each cloud space whether it is hybrid cloud or multi-cloud, SD-WAN plays a critical role in user-defined autonomous traffic routing to improve real-time application performance.

Recommended Hardware

SD-WAN and edge computing today are highly bounded, as they are frequently adopted together. Since SD-WAN and edge computing both leverage third-party software and VNFs to run network orchestration functions, it is ideal to use white-box solutions instead of purpose-built equipments. For example, Lanner Electronics Inc., is a dedicated white-box solution providers with a wide range of product portfolio to meet customer specifications. In fact, most of Lanner whitebox hardware have been certified and pre-validated by global SD-WAN leaders.