February 26, 2013, 9:03 AM — While deploying SDN technology to improve data center operations gets a lot of attention, utilizing SDN to improve the quality of service in the private wide area network (WAN) is an application that can bring significant benefits to an organization. By providing lower cost and easy to deploy software solutions, SDN will expand the use of WAN optimization by enabling adoption by a wide range of large, midsize and small businesses.
Leading IT trends are putting considerable stress on the quality of the links in the enterprise WAN. These trends include:
- Software as a service
- Private cloud data centers
- End-user device proliferation (BYOD)
- Mobility - user demand for anytime, anywhere access to applications/data
- Requirements for low-latency traffic (voice and video)
The result is the requirement for highly reliable, secure WANs that deliver low latency traffic to end-users independent of their location or device type. End users need to be able to access information and applications securely anytime, anywhere with any device.
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SDN can help enterprise IT achieve the goals of a high quality WAN without necessarily upgrading the individual WAN links - an expensive proposition. SDN can enable IT to prioritize key traffic types (e.g. voice, video, data center-data center) and applications, and manage the quality of service and latency of the WAN instead of treating all traffic the same. SDN implementations can bring additional benefits, including:
- Ease of provisioning for new sites, new applications, and changed traffic priorities
- Improved security (e.g. encryption) of WAN links
- Ability to leverage APIs to link specific applications directly to the WAN
- Secure remote access to files and applications
What's more, the SDN technology that can solve enterprise WAN challenges is ready for use today. Suppliers that have announced software to facilitate WAN quality of service include Riverbed, Cisco, Citrix, Juniper, Brocade, ADARA, Pertino, Glue Networks and Silver Peak. A number of SDN WAN use case examples are publicly available, including