5 Best Practices for Implementing Secure and Effective SD-WAN

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Corporate networks are rapidly becoming more complex and distributed. With the growth of cloud computing, remote work, mobile and Internet of Things (IoT), companies have users and IT assets everywhere, requiring connectivity.

Software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) provides the ability to implement a secure, high-performance corporate WAN on top of existing networks. However, SD-WAN infrastructures must be carefully designed and implemented to provide full value to the organization.

SD-WAN Best Practices 

A poorly implemented SD-WAN poses significant risk to the organization. When designing and deploying SD-WAN, consider the following SD-WAN best practices.

Position SD-WAN Devices to Support Users

SD-WAN provides secure, optimized network routing between various locations. Often, organizations will deploy SD-WAN routers at their branch locations and near their cloud edge.

SD-WAN is also beneficial for remote workers. To ensure the solution provides the most optimal network connectivity, the SD-WAN solution must be deployed to maximize the performance of remote workers. This means minimizing the distance of remote traffic to the SD-WAN edge.

Use High-Quality Network Connectivity

SD-WAN is designed to improve network performance and reliability by intelligently routing traffic over different network connections, including broadband Internet, multi-protocol label switching (MPLS), and mobile networks. When traffic is sent to the SD-WAN device, it selects the most optimal path based on network conditions.

However, SD-WAN’s ability to enhance network performance and reliability is limited by the network connection at its disposal. If the available connection is inherently unreliable — like broadband Internet — then SD-WAN can do little to fix this problem. To maximize the value of an SD-WAN investment, it is essential to utlize a network connection that offers the desired level of performance, latency, and reliability.

Design for Scalability

Corporate bandwidth requirements are continuously increasing, and SD-WAN should be scalable to support current and future network requirements. Deploying SD-WAN using dedicated hardware limits the scalability of the solution and mandates upgrades or additional hardware in the future. Instead, companies should use an SD-WAN solution that takes advantage of cloud scalability to grow with the needs of the organization.

Integrate Security with Networking

SD-WAN is a networking solution, not a security solution. While it may securely and intelligently route traffic to its destination, it performs none of the advanced security inspection and policy enforcement needed to protect the organization and its employees against advanced cybersecurity threats.

For this reason, SD-WAN must be deployed together with network security. With the growth of remote work and the cloud, companies can’t rely on traffic flowing through the defenses at the network perimeter, and backhauling traffic defeats the purpose of deploying SD-WAN. A secure SD-WAN deployment is one that implements strong security with networking.

SASE vs SD-WAN: What’s Beyond Security | Download the eBook

Consider an Integrated Solution

Often, a company’s approach to implementing vital networking and security solutions is to deploy point solutions that provide the desired capabilities. However, this commonly results in a sprawling IT architecture that is difficult and expensive to monitor, operate, and manage.

Taking this approach to implementing a secure SD-WAN deployment can exacerbate this problem. Since each SD-WAN device must be supported by a full security stack, the end result is deploying and operating several solutions at each location.

SASE (Secure Access Service Edge) provides a solution for this problem. SASE integrates SD-WAN capabilities with a full network security suite delivered as a cloud-based security service. With SD-WAN, an organization can implement and secure its WAN infrastructure with minimal cost and operational overhead.

Implementing Secure, Usable SD-WAN with Cato SASE Cloud

Organizations can achieve the full benefits of SD-WAN only by designing and deploying it correctly.Doing so will avoid poor network performance, reduced security, and negative user experiences.

Cato SASE Cloud provides SD-WAN functionality designed in accordance with SD-WAN best practices and offers the following benefits to organizations:

  • Global Reach: Cato SASE Cloud is a globally-distributed network of over 80 PoP locations. This allows remote workers to access the corporate WAN with minimal latency.
  • Optimized Networking: Cato SASE Cloud is connected through a network of dedicated Tier-1 carrier links. These connections provide greater network performance and resiliency than an SD-WAN solution running over the public Internet.
  • Converged Security: As a SASE solution, Cato SASE Cloud converges SD-WAN with a full network security stack. This convergence offers advanced threat protection without compromising network performance or user experience.
  • Cloud-Based Deployment: Cato SASE Cloud is deployed as a global network of PoPs connected by a global private backbone. As a result, it can offer greater scalability, availability, and resiliency than on-site, appliance-based solutions.
  • Managed SD-WAN: Cato SASE Cloud is available as a Managed SD-WAN service. This removes the responsibility for configuring, managing, and updating your SD-WAN deployment.

SD-WAN helps improve network performance, but it also introduces potential security risks. The Cato SASE Cloud solves this by converging SD-WAN and network security into a single software stack built upon a network of PoPs and connected by a global private backbone. Learn more about how implementing SD-WAN and SASE with Cato SASE Cloud can optimize your organization’s network performance and security.

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