Published on December 29, 2023

Optimizing Network Security With SD-WAN

With SD-WAN, network administrators can centrally configure security and performance policies for branch offices and remote users. This can prevent man-in-the-middle attacks and malware from impacting confidential data and performance. The best business-driven SD-WAN solutions offer advanced security capabilities, including a next-generation firewall, secure web gateways, and CASBs. They also provide end-to-end segmentation, automation, and deep integrations for cloud on-ramps to accelerate connectivity.

Security

While WAN architecture improvements deliver significant operational efficiencies, some IT decision-makers are concerned about security risks associated with SD-WAN. The primary concern is that traffic traverses untrusted networks, such as the public internet, making it vulnerable to man-in-the-middle attacks and malware. However, a good SD-WAN solution such as Versa Networks enables centralized network monitoring with granular inspection and filtering capabilities that provide robust security defenses. In addition, a secure SD-WAN can automatically detect and mitigate traffic congestion.

This means that if a WAN transport or security service is experiencing performance issues, the network adapts to ensure data continues to flow without disruption. A business-driven SD-WAN can also centrally program changes and push them to 10s or 100s of sites in minutes, reducing manual efforts to deploy security policies while ensuring consistent enforcement. Application optimization is another powerful feature of a good SD-WAN solution. It improves performance for latency-sensitive apps by directing them directly to the internet rather than routing them over a private network.

This can save on network costs while delivering high-quality user experiences. Finally, an advanced SD-WAN can tightly integrate with cloud-security functions such as secure web gateways and zero-trust network access to improve protection against sophisticated attacks that exploit weaknesses in traditional networking infrastructure. The result is a unified security architecture that reduces complexity and delivers consistent connectivity and performance while lowering the risk of costly network breaches.

Scalability

A successful SD-WAN solution is scalable and provides the flexibility required to meet enterprise business needs. Network administrators can monitor traffic, configure devices, and deploy new sites from a centralized management interface. This central location allows paths to be allocated based on application criticality, software, and firmware upgrades to be performed, and users to flex bandwidth.

With more and more applications being hosted in the cloud, scalability is necessary for SD-WAN to deliver the connectivity, agility, and security that organizations need. Traditional WAN architectures force backhauling of WAN traffic from branch offices to the data center, increasing latency and limiting performance. An SD-WAN solution creates secure tunnels over internet connections to bypass the data center, connecting directly with software-as-a-service (SaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) providers for a lower cost, better connectivity, and improved user experience. A good SD-WAN also includes a zero-trust network gateway, granular network performance, and visibility capabilities to protect your entire network against the latest cyber threats.

By encrypting traffic and using a unified platform, enterprises can manage network performance and security at both the edge and endpoints. This helps to eliminate costly MPLS lines and replace them with affordable commodity connections, which are more reliable. It also supports WAN optimization techniques for reduced latency, improved performance, and network resiliency that routes traffic around links that fail or are congested.

Flexibility

Unlike traditional networking solutions, SD-WANs provide integrated multi-cloud, security, unified communications, and application optimization capabilities. This allows for a more streamlined network architecture that reduces costs and delivers a better user experience for connectivity to the cloud. Traditional WANs rely on backhauling traffic from branch offices over private networks to headquarters, introducing latency and impairing performance.

An SD-WAN solution can simplify your WAN architecture by allowing direct Internet connections from branch offices and home workers to cloud providers, software as a service (SaaS), and infrastructure as a service (IaaS). While a basic SD-WAN solution may steer traffic according to pre-programmed templates, a business-driven SD-WAN continuously adapts in real-time to changes that could impact application performance, including network congestion or transport impairments. Detecting and responding to these conditions enables users to connect to applications without IT intervention.

A robust SD-WAN solution will incorporate network performance improvement features such as TCP optimization, link aggregation, packet replication, and forward error correction. These techniques are activated based on real-time network conditions to minimize the number of bytes sent over low bandwidth links, which can be expensive for UDP-based applications.

Analytics

An SD-WAN can deliver granular network performance and security insights for all locations and users. This allows IT to define and implement a policy-based framework that can be propagated from a single pane of glass, making it easy to deploy branch office and remote user connectivity with zero trust and enhanced application performance. Another reason businesses are turning to SD-WAN is that it enables employees to stay connected to the network and access data regardless of their internet connection or physical location.

This means customers can continue shopping and engaging with companies online, even when employees work from home or on the road. The technology behind SD-WAN provides the capability to automatically identify and direct traffic based on its type. This improves performance and enhances security by reducing the risk of data loss or corruption due to congestion or other network issues.

An SD-WAN also combines multiple connections into one link using technologies such as load balancing, which can prioritize critical applications or reroute data to backup links when needed. An SD-WAN can also enable a secure local internet breakout for IaaS and SaaS application traffic from branch offices to the public internet, delivering a high-quality experience while minimizing WAN transport costs. This can help businesses provide a better customer experience while increasing productivity and efficiency.


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