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FAQs about software-defined networking


Organizations use SDN solutions to increase responsiveness and agility of networks

More and more of today’s increasingly connected enterprises are investigating Software-defined Networking (SDN) solutions as they strive to simplify and secure their networks — and to save time and money in the process.

Before organizations can fully realize the benefits of SDN, it’s important to answer some frequently asked questions. Here are our answers to several FAQs about SDN:

What is Software-Defined Networking (SDN)?

SDN abstracts and separates the control and data planes of traditional networking to make it more responsive and agile to changing business needs.

In a traditional network, manual configuration and deployment of hardware-based routing and switching can be time-consuming and error-prone. By abstracting the control and data planes, businesses can automate deployment; streamline management; and leverage flexible, elastic networks that enable them to realize operational efficiencies and cost savings.

What challenges does SDN help address?

Workloads are shifting to the cloud, and the corporate network must foster secure access among more devices, people, applications, and data than ever before. It’s no longer practical — or even possible — for most companies’ IT teams to configure and manage such access manually, as required by traditional networks. Doing so is a tedious, error-prone process that — if a mistake is made — can render a network offline, meaning lost business or poor collaboration.

SDN addresses a lack of agility and flexibility that traditional network architectures established over time. By abstracting the network’s routing and switching functions into software, thus reducing the complexity of managing these functions across different vendors, SDN enables today’s enterprises to have flexible networks with streamlined network management.

What is Software-Defined WAN (SD-WAN)?

SD-WAN is about simplifying and automating a network, and replacing manual intervention, amid changing conditions.

Traditionally, there were two main options for Wide-Area Networking (WAN): MPLS or broadband. Companies that needed the utmost in reliable connection between their branch offices and headquarters could easily be well over $1,000 per month for a dedicated MPLS line from each branch office to headquarters. Alternatively, companies could contract with a broadband provider for less expensive and less reliable service.

SD-WAN applies the virtualization, orchestration, and automation inherent in a large SDN deployment to the WAN infrastructure, reducing the effort needed to configure, manage, and apply policies across the WAN.

Cradlepoint’s SD-WAN solution enables rapidly deployed Day-1 networks that can route traffic based on bandwidth usage, application content, or preferred link to ensure maximum availability and uptime. Cradlepoint’s Auto-Tunnel automatically switches between WAN sources in sub-second speed, providing the best customer experience with essentially zero downtime. Auto-Tunnel can eliminate data loss and make active-passive configurations look like an always available connection.

What is an active-dynamic connection?

Until recently, the benefits of SD-WAN have been reserved for active-active WAN configurations, in which an organization has two or more WAN sources connected and available at all times. When one link fails or deteriorates, traffic is automatically routed over the other link without data loss. This process consumes a lot of data and incurs huge costs when metered WAN links are involved.

Recent strides in intelligent path selection capabilities combined with active-passive configurations have created a more cost-effective SD-WAN solution through Cradlepoint, combining the best parts of active-active and active-passive WAN configurations to create an active-dynamic configuration.

What is Software-defined Perimeter (SD-P)?

SD-P technologies provide a simplified and more secure network architecture for connecting M2M/IoT devices and users.

In the past, many organizations utilized an IPsec VPN-based hub-and-spoke network architecture to extend their networks to branch offices and remote workers through broadband. These IPsec VPNs are not only difficult to manage and configure, but they also create frustrations for the end user, requiring frequent reauthentication when a connection fails.

SD-P reverses the authentication approach. It allows companies to deploy an invitation-only Virtual Cloud Network (VCN) across a private IP space, or dark cloud, meaning it cannot be discovered by a hacker. The software-defined network platform initiates contact with any device or end user that needs to join the network, and verifies the device’s identity via an Out-of-Band connection; only after the device or user has been authenticated are they allowed on the network.

Additionally, through SD-P, simple policies enable micro-segmentation to ensure devices and users are connected only to specified people, applications, and resources.

What is Network-as-a-Service (NaaS)?

Cradlepoint’s NetCloud platform offers customers their Network-as-a-Service through cloud-based management , SD-WAN, and SD-Perimeter services. Instead of, or in conjunction with, utilizing an in-house datacenter and WAN hardware, companies use NetCloud to allocate network space in the cloud instantly with vendors such as Amazon AWS.

IT teams offload the datacenter and previously hardware-based network functions, such as switching, to the cloud. This gives companies the flexibility to create an Elastic EdgeSM in which the network can expand and contract quickly, as needed.

Explore Cradlepoint’s SDN Solutions

Learn more about Cradlepoint’s SD-WAN and SD-P solutions on our NetCloud page.