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The enterprise landscape is continuously evolving. There is a greater demand for mobile and Internet-of-Things (IoT) device traffic, SaaS applications, and cloud adoption. In addition, security needs are increasing and applications are requiring prioritization and optimization, and as this complexity grows, there is a push to reduce costs and operating expenses. High availability and scale continue to be important.

Legacy WAN architectures are facing major challenges under this evolving landscape. Legacy WAN architectures typically consist of multiple MPLS transports, or an MPLS paired with an Internet or LTE used in an active/backup fashion, most often with Internet or software-as-a-service (SaaS) traffic being backhauled to a central data center or regional hub for Internet access. Issues with these architecturSecure Automated WAN

The secure automated WAN use case focuses on providing the secure connectivity between branches, data centers, colocations, and public and private clouds over a transport independent network. It also covers streamlined device deployment using ubiquitous and scalable polices and templates, as well as automated, no-touch provisioning for new installations.

Figure 1. Secure Automated WAN – providing secure connectivity to private/public clouds and other sites

Following are just a sampling of use cases associated with this category:

  • Automated Zero-Touch Provisioning: The ability to remotely provision a router anywhere in the WAN by just connecting it with a cable to the transport network and powering it on. The WAN Edge router discovers its controllers automatically and fully authenticates to them and automatically downloads its prepared configuration before proceeding to establish IPsec tunnels with the rest of the existing network. Automated provisioning helps to lower IT costs.
  • Bandwidth Augmentation: Allows customers to increase WAN bandwidth by leveraging all available WAN transports and routing capabilities to distribute traffic across available paths in an active/active fashion.  Traffic can be offloaded from higher quality, more expensive circuits like MPLS to broadband circuits which can achieve the same availability and performance for a fraction of the cost. Application availability is maximized through performance monitoring and proactive rerouting around impairments.
  • VPN Segmentation: Traffic isolation is key to any security strategy. Traffic that enters the router is assigned to a VPN, which not only isolates user traffic, but also provides routing table isolation. This ensures that a user in one VPN cannot transmit data to another VPN unless explicitly configured to do so. When traffic is transmitted across the WAN, a label is inserted after the ESP header to identify the VPN that the user’s traffic belongs to when it reaches the remote destination.

es include insufficient bandwidth along with high bandwidth costs, application downtime, poor SaaS performance, complex operations, complex workflows for cloud connectivity, long deployment times and policy changes, limited application visibility, and difficulty in securing the network.

In recent years, software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) solutions have evolved to address these challenges. SD-WAN is part of a broader technology of software-defined networking (SDN). SDN is a centralized approach to network management which abstracts away the underlying network infrastructure from its applications. This de-coupling of data plane forwarding and control plane allows you to centralize the intelligence of the network and allows for more network automation, operations simplification, and centralized provisioning, monitoring, and troubleshooting. SD-WAN applies these principles of SDN to the WAN.

The Cisco® SD-WAN solution is an enterprise-grade WAN architecture overlay that enables digital and cloud transformation for enterprises. It fully integrates routing, security, centralized policy, and orchestration into large-scale networks. It is multitenant, cloud-delivered, highly automated, secure, scalable, and application-aware with rich analytics. The Cisco SD-WAN technology addresses the problems and challenges of common WAN deployments. Some of the benefits include:

Centralized network and policy management, as well as operational simplicity, resulting in reduced change control and deployment times.
A mix of MPLS and low-cost broadband or any combination of transports in an active/active fashion, optimizing capacity and reducing bandwidth costs.
A transport-independent overlay that extends to the data center, branch, and cloud.
Deployment flexibility. Due to the separation of the control plane and data plane, controllers can be deployed on premises or in the cloud. Cisco WAN Edge router deployment can be physical or virtual and can be deployed anywhere in the network.
Robust and comprehensive security, which includes strong encryption of data, end-to-end network segmentation, router and controller certificate identity with a zero-trust security model, control plane protection, application firewall, and insertion of Cisco Umbrella™, firewalls, and other network services.
Seamless connectivity to the public cloud and movement of the WAN edge to the branch.
Application visibility and recognition in addition to application-aware policies with real-time service-level agreement (SLA) enforcement.
Dynamic optimization of SaaS applications, resulting in improved application performance for users.
Rich analytics with visibility into applications and infrastructure, which enables rapid troubleshooting and assists in forecasting and analysis for effective resource planning