A growing enterprise is exciting, but growth also comes with the challenges of supporting consistent service standards across all locations while consolidating operations. This is the nature of networking across a geographically diverse organization. Fortunately, there is advancing technology for successful multi-site wide area network (WAN) management.
One common approach to creating a centralized networking architecture is through virtual private networks (VPNs). VPNs offer a private connection between sites over a public Internet line. The site-to-site connectivity offers a cost-effective way to securely transmit data faster than a typical WAN connection. A single leased line provides Internet access, and then data can be transmitted and stored on a server to await processing or backup.
One of the attractions of using a VPN for multi-site WAN management is its security features. Security comes in the form of virtual tunnels, which encrypt data traffic upon entry and then offer decryption at the other end. VPN security can be managed from just one side of the connection. Once a user at a remote location has been established, connectivity is managed from the central location. IT personnel won’t need to travel to the location to manage the link.
Centralizing Data Access
Enterprises adopting VPN can also implement a data repository at a centralized location. This approach is ideal for data that is not critical but still needs to be stored and accessed remotely. As more businesses are using cloud solutions, a cloud data server makes sense from both a cost and accessibility perspective. There are several advantages to cloud data storage, and with some networking approaches (more to follow), your network can be configured to allow data to be transmitted directly to a cloud server, rather than backhauling to a central network and then out to the Internet.
Another advantage to centralized data is that even if there’s a power outage or if services are down in a particular location, users are still able to access the data they need.
Software-defined networking (SDN) allows for remote configuration of the network, so that network engineers stationed at headquarters can repair and troubleshoot network problems at the branch location. It separates data and control planes, enabling greater efficiency for management and allowing for policies to be set across the network.
Taking things to the next level, multi-site WAN management is significantly improved with software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN). It further optimizes networking, connecting locations over a wide geographical area and supporting high-bandwidth cloud applications. Here are several reasons why SD-WAN makes multi-site WAN management easier and more cost-effective:
1. Eliminates the need for multiple devices. SD-WAN uses Network Function Virtualization (NFV) to run multiple services from a single device and offers a streamlined, more simple network configuration.
2. Reduced security risk. When considering SD-WAN, choose a solution that offers enhanced security features like supporting stateful firewall. It is also important to understand how Internet Protocol Security (IPSec) is integrated into the solution. SD-WAN is an inherently more secure networking approach, simply because it offers better visibility and the ability to segment network traffic.
3. Deploying new branches. SD-WAN offers zero-touch provisioning, but this is in place only under certain conditions, so talk to your potential providers about this feature While SD-WAN simplifies a network, it also includes a host of options that require preparation for a successful migration. Centralized control means that you can troubleshoot and configure branch locations, but be sure to ask the provider what’s necessary to achieve these conditions.
4. Reserving MPLS for mission–critical transmissions. Enterprises are increasing demand for bandwidth, but not all transmissions are worthy of multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) pathways. MPLS can be reserved for applications that demand real-time connectivity, such as voice and video or collaborative tools, while email and recreational social media use can be transmitted over broadband. One of the key benefits of SD-WAN is the ability to automatically prioritize certain types of traffic according to business policy.
5. Faster access to new cloud applications. A primary advantage to multi-site WAN management with SD-WAN is its agility. New solutions can be added quickly and without disruption to the network. Higher bandwidth accessibility results in predictable performance for new applications as they are added to the network.
6. SD-WAN reduces costs. Demand for bandwidth continues to grow, and implementing SD-WAN can prevent your networking costs from spiraling out of control. Replacing some of your MPLS pathways with public Internet helps absorb some of the increased bandwidth and keeps you from having to choose between performance and affordability when it comes to networking.
Enterprises struggling with multi-site WAN management can address some of the challenges that come with cloud migration and an increased number of devices and remote employees. The network’s boundaries are non-existent, so a networking approach with a virtual overlay is the answer.
To learn more about SD-WAN and centralized data access, contact us at Tailwind. We empower multi-site businesses to grow with the right technologies, including high-speed broadband connectivity and asset management of your customer premises equipment.