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How can SD-WAN and edge computing services work together?

Organizations may want to consider the effect SD-WAN and edge computing could have when combined. Make sure to consider all options before choosing a combination model, however.

Software-defined WAN, or SD-WAN, and edge computing can work together in two main ways: SD-WAN can route traffic to edge resources, and SD-WAN and edge computing can share infrastructure.

First, SD-WAN services can selectively direct application traffic to the resources that provide the best available service. These destinations can include resources in on-site or nearby edge facilities.

An SD-WAN service that routes edge traffic could benefit enterprises with multiple locations in several widely separated metro areas, such as a quick-service restaurant chain or a consumer financial services company. Each metro area might have edge computing resources in one or two locations, and SD-WAN could direct traffic to them appropriately.

How can SD-WAN and edge computing share infrastructure?

Another option for IT teams is to use edge computing infrastructure to host an SD-WAN service based on virtual appliances or network functions virtualization.

Conversely, a universal customer premises equipment box or other SD-WAN branch device could meet edge computing service demands -- if the device has the spare capacity. A warehouse, for example, might enable an SD-WAN service to share the same hardware as robot control or real-time inventory monitoring systems.

Companies interested in a combination of SD-WAN and edge computing should test both models: SD-WAN that runs on edge computing service gear and SD-WAN that provides a platform for edge computing. Organizations should also see which option, if either, reduces operational complexity and benefits both WAN and edge performances.

This was last published in November 2019

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