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In a recent report Gartner estimated that, “By 2023, more than 90% of WAN edge infrastructure refresh initiatives will be based on vCPE or SD-WAN appliances versus traditional routers (up from less than 40% today).” As enterprises try to find ways to bring their sprawling infrastructures from a hardware-centric (and consequently vulnerable) state to a more agile and proactive stance, Gartner expects SD-WAN and vCPE technologies to play a key role in the immediate future to furnish the right balance of performance, price and flexibility. In this article we will help you understand the basics of software-defined wide-area networks and why your company should be capitalizing on this technology for growth in IoT. For local reliable SD Wan Consulting, please take a look at Cloud Direct Connect.
What is SD-WAN?
Software-defined wide-area networks make use of software to manage the connectivity and services between data centers and remote branches or cloud instances. It separates the control and management sphere from the data plane. Essentially, SD-WAN deployments cover all existing routers and switches or virtualized customer premises equipment (vCPE). All of this equipment need to have the control/ management software running. This software is responsible for managing governance and management policies, security, networking functions and other management tools. These can be tweaked or customized as per vendor or customer configuration/ requirements.
SD-WAN simplifies complex networking architectures with simpler ways to connect to branch offices and is reputed for managing multiple connections such as MPLS, broadband and LTE. It helps to enhance an organization’s security stance with its ability to segment, partition and secure the traffic on the WAN. It can also help organizations save on a bunch of money by better managing the way data, voice or video links are utilized.
How does SD-WAN improve IoT security?
It’s already been well-established that a majority of IoT devices were pushed out into the market without robust security controls. Given that IoT devices are ubiquitous today and so diverse in their range, utility and applications, it’s simply not realistic to try and install anti-malware, anti-virus, data loss prevention, and other security clients on thousands of these devices. And yet, we need to secure these devices as they form a lucrative target for hackers.
Many organizations have tried to work around this problem by routing all IoT traffic through security apparatus deployed in a central data center. The most obvious problem with this approach is that it’s heavy on bandwidth usage and results in critical performance issues. Moreover, with a hub and spoke architecture, it also creates a bottleneck for the traffic instead of a smooth flow. One way of addressing this problem could be through moving the security architecture out of the data center and pushing it to the network edge through cloud delivery. Organizations could even make use of predefined security policies that are applied holistically through a secure web gateway. Further security features such as web filtering and malware protection to individual locations, devices, users, or traffic types can be added as per specific requirements. SD-WAN has demonstrably helped enhance IoT security through improvements in coverage, performance, cost and risk reduction.
SD-WAN critical features for unlocking IoT growth
Possibly one of the best benefits of deploying SD-WAN lies in its ability to ensure consistent uptime and application performance. It achieves this through multi-path selection – its ability to constantly map the best possible path for the traffic through the network. This means that when a session is started, it determines the best link for an application. If the link fails, it tries to re-establish connection before changing over to another automatically that reduces downtime.
Better application performance
SD-WAN is also capable of determining and prioritizing network traffic by application. This means that it’s possible for your technical teams to create rules for the appropriate selection of a network path for individual applications. This cannot lock both optimal bandwidth usage as well as cost savings. Just as an example, it may be possible for companies to send low priority traffic through the most cost effective connections. This also enables organizations to make optimum use of broadband Internet with MPLS links.
Ensuring the security of private data
SD-WAN’s inherent ability for segmentation capabilities allows the separation of private data from IoT traffic. This means that even if individual devices are compromised in an IoT network, the private data being relayed through the network may not be in immediate danger. This means that because of the segmentation capabilities of the network, hackers cannot gain access to private data through compromised devices.
Why Your IoT Initiatives Need SD-WAN
Reason 1: SD-WAN is the right solution if you’re looking for agile IoT Deployment
There is a critical need for companies to simplify the Deployment of IoT devices and to manage the same at affordable rates. With SD-WAN, companies can take advantage of zero-touch provisioning. Essentially this enables them to automate and simplify device connections and function management like access control, networking, device security, and communications. You could also make use of SD-WANs in the form of a cloud-managed service, that helps to further streamline enterprise-scale SD-WAN deployments. This results in faster installations and upgrades at the lowest possible costs.
Reason 2: Leverage the power of centralized visibility and management
Any IoT initiative can be daunting given the level of complexity and risk involved. The main challenge lies with the high dynamic nature of IoT environments as it simultaneously connects thousands of IoT devices from multiple locations. It is important to keep the parts of the environment by knowing how it is performing from moment to moment. This is where SD-WAN plays a key role in providing clarity by eradicating the need for multiple interfaces with one comprehensive console that allows for real-time visibility of network performance. This allows you to streamline ongoing network management optimally.
Reason 3: Effectively reduce IoT Security Risks
Since IoT devices connect over the Internet, they are inherently prone to a slew of security vulnerabilities in addition to vulnerabilities arising from Cloud Security risks. Ensuring end-to-end security for IoT systems with limited budgets is a tall ask for most IT teams. SD-WAN security offers a way out of this quandary with comprehensive threat management and extensive security functions including:
- Web and app filtering
- Security information and event management
- SSL and intrusion detection
- Anti-virus, anti-malware, and anti-spyware software
Ben Ferguson is the Vice President and Senior Network Architect for Shamrock Consulting Group, an industry leader in digital transformation solutions. Since his departure from Biochemical research in 2004, Ben has built core competencies around Cloud Security Solutions and Cloud migration solutions, SD WAN providers, enterprise wide area network architecture, high density data center deployments, cybersecurity and VOIP telephony. Ben has designed hundreds of complex networks for some of the largest companies in the world and he’s helped Shamrock become a top partner of the 3 largest public cloud platforms for AWS, Azure and GCP consulting. Stay connected at LinkedIn.