Automation, Orchestration, and Visibility for SD-WAN
A software-defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN), uses a centralized control function to securely and intelligently direct traffic across the wide area network. With more companies rolling out global SD-WAN strategies, there is increasing pressure to implement quickly and more efficiently.
One of the greatest benefits of leveraging a global SD-WAN network is the ability to have complete control and observability of your WAN from a single dashboard. With this, automation and orchestration come into play to help improve networking strategies. When used correctly, companies can benefit from unprecedented visibility and awareness of traffic quality and traffic patterns, business and security policy management, automated delivery, and an enhanced user experience.
Automation, orchestration, and visibility are closely interlinked and are key components of a successful SD-WAN approach, here’s why:
Automation refers to a single, low-level network management task. On its own, simple network automation will not make a significant difference to daily operations, but if built into a series of processes and workflows which are then orchestrated, there are endless benefits.
Automation can quickly and consistently configure a network of devices eliminating tedious tasks and the inevitable human errors that come with doing “the same thing” 10 or even 100 times.
Some examples of automation:
- Zero Touch Provisioning (ZTP) – with ZTP, the SD–WAN device automatically contacts the enterprise’s orchestrator which configures the device automatically in accordance with the business intent policies for the network. If there are changes, they can be made centrally with the orchestrator and at no point does anyone need to log in and configure individual devices.
- Automation with Business Intent – automation isn’t great at dealing with anomalies and unpredictable events, so there are various vendor solutions that involve intelligence and learning algorithms that continually monitor the quality of all available paths to deliver a consistent user experience. Learn more about our growing community of SD-WAN partners here. We are happy to help you find the right SD-WAN solution to fit your needs.
Orchestration describes a series of repeatable, automated tasks that have numerous dependencies. Orchestration allows networks to scale, provisioning network services across multiple devices and deploying resources as needed, making the network more agile and responsive. Leveraging orchestration, businesses can deploy applications faster and more accurately resulting in a shorter time to market.
Some of the ways network orchestration can be applied:
- Configure network interfaces or routing protocols automatically
- Set up overlays for control and forwarding planes
- Tag, manage, and direct network workflows to ensure traffic data goes to the right place
One of the most beneficial components of SD-WAN is the level of visibility one has in their network. When orchestrated correctly, one can immediately identify any underlying network issues that may impact user traffic. Integrated visibility capabilities and proactive monitoring into your applications enables improved performance and a better understanding of how you are using network resources.
Where SD-WAN is embedded into the fabric of the network, every instance is working on the same backbone, remaining in sync and creating a single unified view of performance. Some of the benefits include:
- A single, consistent IT infrastructure that ensures service quality across the globe
- Simplified network provisioning
- Flexibility to spin up/spin down test environments as needed
The goal of network automation, orchestration, and visibility is to create efficiencies that free up the network team’s time so it can focus on tasks that cannot be automated. A good place to begin your journey is to analyze and identify where network automation, orchestration, and visibility will have the greatest impact on your business. Ready to identify those areas?