SD-WAN 101: The Beginner’s Guide
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SD-WAN 101: The Beginner’s Guide

Discover the basics of what software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) can do, and the benefits it can bring in our useful guide.

Before you can answer questions such as whether SD-WAN is for you, or whether your organisation may benefit from its use, you need to do your research – that means going back to basics.

The Beginner’s Guide to SD-WAN

1. What is SD-WAN?

2. What are the benefits?

3. What about security?

4. Should I be talking to my customers about it?

1. What is SD-WAN?

SD-WAN is a software-defined approach to managing wide area networks. You use software on centralised consoles to control network connections, traffic flows, policies, security mechanisms and general administration.

2. What are the benefits?

There are many benefits, which can be broadly broken down into:

Improved performance

SD-WAN detects applications and prioritises traffic flow automatically, according to your customer’s needs, so that everybody has a better experience, whether they’re on a video call with the team or simply accessing files across your customer’s network.

You can send business data across primary and secondary connections, and in the event of line failure, ‘application intelligence’ will ensure that key applications have priority on the remaining line.

More visibility and control

Centralises management allows your customers to manage a single set of security policies and device health standards in one location for all devices. This standardisation means every device is kept up to date, the configuration is backed up and has an identical security policy.

Using a centralised console, your customers will have analytics and reporting features which allow them to see how their network is supporting business productivity. This can help them to plan for new applications, technology deployments, and the right-sizing the connectivity for any new sites.

3. Is SD-WAN secure?

It depends on the SD-WAN solution that your customer requires.

SD-WAN seems inherently less secure because it involves moving traffic off a structured, private MPLS on to the direct internet, where it will be more exposed to malware and hackers. Many SD-WAN solutions on the market just don’t have security features robust enough to mitigate these risks.

Node4’s Secure SD-WAN solution is designed with security in mind, and includes crucial features such as:

  • Fortigate Next Generation Firewalls at every location, which protects all users from internal and external threats. Your customers can also control access to specific websites using a built-in web-filtering solution.
  • Intrusion Prevention and Anti-Malware at every location to actively stop the spread of malicious code throughout your customer’s organisation.
  • FortiAnalyzer Network Analytics and Reporting, which provides an overview of your customer’s secure network, as well as tools to analyse, discover and mitigate threats.
  • Centralised Management, which allows a single set of security policies and device health standards to be managed in one location for all devices.
  • Bring Your Own Network functionality, which means your customers can bring unmanaged network locations, such as co-working space and home offices, under the same security and application policies as their standard locations. In addition, traffic from these locations is encrypted for maximum security.

Node4’s Secure SD-WAN solution

Node4’s Secure SD-WAN solution

4. Should I be talking to my customers about it?

With the requirement for businesses to become agile, and quick to adapt becoming increasingly important, there are plenty of scenarios in which it is a good time to be talking to your customers about adopting SD-WAN as part of their network transformation strategy.

Multi-site organisations and fast growing business with remote offices will quickly feel the benefits of rapid deployment and zero-touch provisioning, being able to connect new sites with ease. As a Fortinet Expert MSSP Partner, and one of the first in the UK to deliver their Secure SD-WAN Solution, you can talk to your customers with confidence that you’ll be leveraging some of the highest levels of expertise on offer, and working with a partner who has a experience successfully managing some of the most complex customer deployments.

If you’re still left with questions around SD-WAN, download the full pdf version of this guide (including further FAQs). Alternatively, talk to one of our experts who are more than happy to answer any initial questions you have and chat through your customer’s requirements.