Cisco Puts Forth an SD-WAN 'Bill of Rights'

The networking vendor outlines what users and administrators should look for in the technology they buy for their SD-WAN projects.


Enterprises are increasingly using the cloud to deliver applications and services, and their workers, who are becoming more mobile, are looking for greater and improved wireless Internet access. Organizations also are beginning to feel the impact of the Internet of things, which will put even more pressure on network infrastructures.

In this shifting world, businesses are finding that the traditional WAN setup—with traffic passing back and forth from remote sites into central data centers and back via Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) or other routes—isn't going to work as well anymore. That has helped drive the development of software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) technology, which enables remote offices to connect directly to the Internet via high-speed broadband.

It's a market that is expected to grow rapidly, and it's attracting a broad range of companies, including Talari Networks, Glue Networks, Silver Peak, Viptela, Ipanema Technologies, VeloCloud and others. In addition, Cisco Systems is in the middle of it all with its iWAN offerings.

Now the networking giant is trying to help users and network administrators determine what they want to get out of their SD-WAN environments and what they need to reach their goals. With that in mind, Jason Rolleston, senior director of product management for Cisco's Connected Mobile Experience unit, has pulled together an "SD-WAN Bill of Rights," a listing of 10 points that businesses can use as a guide to developing a comprehensive strategy and determining which SD-WAN offerings suit them best.

A complete list can be found here along with Rolleston's post on the company blog. The points touch on a broad array of areas, from greater automation so that network managers no longer have to waste time on routine tasks like managing security and compliance controls or driving to remote offices to make patches to the ability to embrace a hybrid WAN environment by choosing the best data path, whether it's 4G LTE or MPLS.

"You need a set of choices," Rolleston told eWEEK, noting that some workloads demand high bandwidth, but that "you don't need a high level [of performance] all the time."

Other rights range from saving money by locally caching content like high-definition video to having policy-based security options to having access to third-party applications and services.

Rolleston said he's unsure whether organizations will embrace all of the rights listed, but "what it does do is put it all in context."

Having a handle on what they need from their SD-WAN solutions will be important for businesses going forward. Analysts at IHS Infonetics said in May that of that 150 businesses in North America that responded to a survey, 45 percent expect to increase their investments in SD-WAN over the next two years.

"Within the data center, raw speed with support for software-defined networking (SDN) and virtualized workloads are the top requirements for fabrics among companies participating in our enterprise data center study," Cliff Grossner, research director for data center, cloud and software-defined networking (SDN) at IHS, said in a statement at the time. "Meanwhile, outside the data center, SDN-led transformation is taking hold in the WAN optimization market. There's a shift from optimizing application traffic flows over a single point-to-point WAN link to automated and dynamic load balancing of application traffic over multiple link types—MPLS, broadband, Internet, cellular, etc."