The 4 Values of SD-WAN

July 30, 2018

The network perimeter has dissolved with IaaS, SaaS, and mobile users breaking that barrier and shifting more traffic to the Internet. MPLS was not designed for this new reality. SD-WAN addresses the problem not only by reducing network costs but also by providing more value in four ways-security, traffic, access, and the cloud

SD-WAN – Value in Security

Organizations with multiple locations connected with site-to-site VPNs along with Internet access at each site can end up with a stack of appliances at each location that require regular maintenance. Appliance software must be regularly patched and upgraded with policy management controlled on an appliance basis. The appliance form factor including the cost of hardware, software, and expert staff to maintain it –  is a burden which SD-WAN eliminates with Firewall as a Service (FWaaS). This new type of next-generation firewall allows an entire organization to be connected to a single, logical global firewall with a unified application-aware security policy.

Pet Lovers, a pet product retailer, was looking to improve security on their network of 93 stores. They connected and secured traffic between stores with an Internet-based, virtual private network (VPN). Point-of-sale (POS) traffic went across the IPsec VPN to firewalls in the company’s Singapore datacenter housing its POS servers. But other than the datacenter and four stores, none of the locations had firewalls to protect them against malware and other attacks. Protection was particularly important as employees accessed the Internet directly.

By moving to the Cato Cloud, Pet Lovers was able to aggregate traffic from all stores, its datacenter, and any mobile users and cloud infrastructure into a common SD-WAN in the cloud. And since Cato Cloud includes FWaaS, their assets were secured – avoiding the costs of deploying and managing new and existing firewall appliances.

SD-WAN – Value in Traffic

Enterprises rely on MPLS because of its predictable performance is backed by an SLA. SD-WAN from Cato can provide better value by reducing bandwidth costs while still providing an SLA-backed backbone.

Fisher & Co was spending $324k per year for a managed, secure MPLS service along with WAN optimization and was looking to reduce costs and improve manageability and uptime. The company decided to move to Cato’s SD-WAN service that integrates advanced security with an affordable global, SLA-backed backbone — the Cato Cloud. With Cato, they could retain control over the network and security infrastructure yet gain the agility and scaling benefits of a cloud service. The company’s annual spend dropped to $155k while maintaining and even improving its application delivery.

Humphreys & Partners Architects, based in Dallas, experienced frustration with their MPLS network. Every time they moved, the carrier wanted a three-year contract and 90 days to get the circuit up and running. When Humphreys opened an office in Uruguay, they wanted to connect it to their MPLS service. The provider offered only a 1.5 Mbits/s MPLS connection for $1,500 a month, about the same price as their 50 Mbits/s MPLS connection in Dallas. They found a better value moving to Cato where bandwidth costs will reduce as they phase out MPLS, eventually eliminating MPLS because of Cato Cloud’s quality and predictability.

SD-WAN – Value in Access

When organizations build their networks from a mix of MPLS and Internet VPNs, such as the result of a merger and acquisition, a fully meshed network isn’t always possible. Resource access can be inconsistent resulting in a disappointing user experience.

With Paysafe Group, user impact was precisely what drove the need for a better WAN. The main issue was primarily due to the lack of a fully meshed network; establishing a fully meshed Internet VPN would have necessitated 210 tunnels. Paysafe needed a single, fully meshed backbone, and neither MPLS nor Internet-based VPN was the answer. Looking towards SD-WAN vendors for possible solutions, this option did not provide infrastructure but only intelligent routing management. Paysafe didn’t want a routing management solution but wanted a core network with lower latency. Ultimately, Paysafe replaced its MPLS services and Internet-based VPN with a single, converged network from Cato. It natively optimizes the delivery of cloud applications and Paysafe Group found performance is much better than with Internet VPNs and on par with MPLS — at a fraction of the price.

SD-WAN – Value in Cloud and Mobility

Enterprises today know the value of cloud services but bringing those benefits to their agility. However, MPLS networks limit some of those advantages with backhauling users through the datacenter, in turn, decreasing performance. SD-WAN services like Cato Cloud provide a global, SLA-backed backbone that connects remote mobile workers and branch offices to corporate resources, such as cloud datacenters. With both users and datacenters connected to Cato, a single network is formed. Traffic from mobile users is sent across the optimized backbone directly to the cloud provider.

Before migrating to Cato Cloud, the marketing firm AdRoll used VPN tunnels to their San Francisco office where all traffic was backhauled to reach the Internet and cloud, causing bottlenecks and stifling productivity with complex on-boarding procedures for users. Now with Cato, they have streamlined to a single network and traffic from mobile users is sent across the optimized backbone directly to AWS. They have also gained deeper insight into cloud usage and can see who’s connecting when and how much traffic is being sent. This improved visibility provides oversight and ties directly into the bigger security conversation.

Value Means More Than Cost Savings

Cato’s SD-WAN offers multiple avenues of savings. Beyond dollars and cents, it provides a secure global network and simplifies the network to eliminate deployment and security overhead with integrated security stacks and zero-touch provisioning. The added value of increased network visibility and improved user experience can be difficult to quantify but are just as important as the budget’s bottom line.

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Dave Greenfield

Dave Greenfield

Dave Greenfield is a veteran of IT industry. He’s spent more than 20 years as an award-winning journalist and independent technology consultant. Today, he serves as a secure networking evangelist for Cato Networks.