At this week’s FutureWAN’18 Summit, a virtual summit for software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN), the co-founders of Packet Pushers discussed the benefits of using SD-WAN to merge multiple networks into a unified whole. This is important after corporate mergers and acquisitions.
Packet Pushers Co-founders Greg Ferro and Ethan Banks compared SD-WAN to current methods of merging networks and connecting IT infrastructures. Currently, networks can be connected by building “quick and dirty IPsec tunnels” or by using a dynamic multi-point virtual private network (VPN) solution. Ferro and Banks noted that both of these methods are largely manual and tedious processes.
Conversely, certain capabilities and features of SD-WAN can quickly connect two networks. These features include easily-managed redundant plumbing, segment isolation, and the ability to quickly add branches.
SD-WAN can easily manage link redundancy when merging networks. The SD-WAN overlay forms new tunnels on all available paths between end points. The advantage being that the circuit will not brown out, and it doesn’t require a network engineer to re-configure the IP tunnel endpoints. Ferro noted that the redundancy is possible over a public Internet, which is yet another benefit of SD-WAN in this use case.
“Another advantage of using SD-WAN to merge networks, you can use the Internet as WAN,” said Ferro. “There is then no requirement for MPLS. You don’t have to wait for your provider, and your ramp-up time is quicker.”
Segment isolation allows companies to split and create virtual network segments, dictating which networks can interact with other networks. So, the company acquiring another can segment and isolate traffic of the acquired company in various ways, while maintaining regulations and similarities with the network as a whole.
The ability to easily add new branches is a feature of SD-WAN that, according to Ferro, is a much simpler and more optimized option than with other network merging techniques. At any point, one can add new branches and end points to the network.
Ferro and Banks did note that this is not the perfect solution. As SD-WAN is a newer technology, not all companies have the resources and talent to “plug in the SD-WAN application and do it correctly,” said Ferro, adding that it is a different way of doing things and “your operations will have to change if you’ve never used it.”
SD-WAN is not managed at the end points, as current solutions might be. Instead, it is managed centrally and distributed to the end points, which is a different way of thinking. Ferro did note, “SD-WAN end points can figure out the best circuits and ways to access the software and circuits, no matter where they are.”
As more SD-WAN options get added to the market, Ferro and Banks discussed how to determine the best solution for a company. Features to consider for any use case might be scale, integration with domains, whether or not you need isolation between segments, policy management tools, reporting and auditing tools, pricing and pricing models, and how traffic can be prioritized.
In terms of mergers and acquisitions, scale is one that is important to consider. “Different solutions have different scales,” said Ferro. And depending on the number of end points in a network, this is something to consider.