Providing reliable, low-latency access to cloud-based software as a service, or SaaS, applications is a critical requirement for all IT organizations. In response, software-defined WAN, or SD-WAN, providers are rapidly improving their products to deliver high-quality network experiences for cloud-based apps.
SD-WAN uses software and cloud-based technologies to simplify WAN services delivery. Software-based virtualization enables network abstraction that results in simplified network operations. It also enables IT and business managers to reliably and securely deploy internet-based connectivity with the resulting benefits of ubiquity, high bandwidth and low cost.
The adoption of cloud computing and SaaS has rapidly changed the way end users access their applications. The use of popular SaaS applications, including Salesforce, Google Docs and Microsoft Office 365, has skyrocketed. Every day, millions of workers access the cloud to use cloud computing services like Amazon Web Services (AWS), cloud-based storage, unified communications services and conferencing applications.
SD-WAN technology accelerates access to cloud apps
SD-WAN providers are expanding their capabilities to ensure reliable, high-speed and low-latency connectivity between multiple cloud providers and enterprise networks. From a technology standpoint, SD-WAN products monitor the health and quality of WAN links and -- assuming multiple connections -- leverage policy and network logic to pick the fastest path.
A number of SD-WAN providers have provided details on their capabilities to improve end-user access to SaaS and cloud-based apps. Each provider offers unique technology or partnerships with the most popular cloud providers. Here are a few examples:
Citrix. Citrix and Equinix have partnered to provide an SD-WAN service that reliably connects an enterprise's locations to one of Equinix's 150 worldwide data centers. These connections, built with NetScaler SD-WAN, consist of secure tunnels established over multiple aggregated network links, including public internet, MPLS and wireless. This service enables customers to use SD-WAN to connect to the Equinix Cloud Exchange, which provides high-speed and low-latency connectivity to cloud providers.
Cradlepoint. Cradlepoint's NetCloud Engine is a cloud networking service that extends software-defined overlay networks to connect applications and workloads deployed within public cloud infrastructures. Cradlepoint has partnerships with nine top-tier cloud providers around the world, including AWS, Microsoft Azure, Rackspace, DigitalOcean and Linode. These partnerships enable Cradlepoint to leverage providers' orchestration APIs to automate the deployments within data centers. Customers can also use standard orchestration tools -- like Puppet and Chef -- to automate new virtual machines' and containers' spin-ups and overlay connections.
Riverbed. Riverbed's SteelConnect offers instant and easy provisioning of SD-WAN connectivity into Microsoft Azure cloud networks. This provides one-click connectivity for users accessing Azure applications and data.
Silver Peak. Silver Peak's EdgeConnect product includes First-Packet iQ, which identifies applications and web domains based on the first packet received. With insight into HTTP and HTTPS traffic, First-Packet iQ enables internet breakout automation by steering specific, trusted SaaS traffic directly to the internet, while directing unknown or suspicious traffic to a firewall for further inspection. First-Packet iQ utilizes techniques that include a dynamic application data repository based on domain name system queries, deep packet inspection, Transmission Control Protocol and User Datagram Protocol port data, and IP protocol methods to ensure accurate application identification on the first packet.
VeloCloud. VeloCloud Cloud-Delivered SD-WAN provides business policy-aware optimization treatments for both on-premises and cloud-based apps. These technologies include TCP flow optimization, bandwidth aggregation, jitter buffering and dynamic multipath optimization. All of these capabilities can be triggered automatically on demand for application profiles and specific applications.
Viptela. Viptela announced a partnership with AWS that allows enterprises to seamlessly add AWS resources to their wide area network. This relationship extends all of Viptela's SD-WAN capabilities to AWS, so resources can be managed, while providing the same user experience as if they were hosted in a company's own data centers.
SD-WAN providers offer enterprises options
SD-WAN has become a trusted technology in many organizations, with the number of installed locations connected via SD-WAN reaching the tens of thousands. SaaS applications delivered via the cloud have become a critical element of productivity in most organizations. SD-WAN technology innovation is moving from connectivity toward secure, application performance assurance.
Many SD-WAN providers have unique methods of delivering high-speed connections to cloud-based apps. Organizations that rely on SaaS and cloud-based applications should evaluate SD-WAN providers based on a provider's ability to securely deliver reliable, low-latency connectivity to popular SaaS and cloud-based apps.
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