How to improve your network visibility with SD-WAN

Cloud-driven digital transformation is reshaping the way that enterprise networks are built and operated. However, as networks become increasingly distributed, tracking the flow of data around the extended enterprise has become harder than ever – and network visibility has suffered as a result.

This presents very real challenges for Australian businesses, given that they face new obligations from the notifiable data breach (NDB) scheme, EU general data protection regulation (GDPR), and other rules that require companies to maintain a firm grip on customers’ personally identifiable information (PII) and its security.

Some businesses try to solve this problem with dedicated network and cloud taps, which provide some visibility into traffic flow but are complex to integrate and administer. This is because such taps tend to operate alongside the network, rather than functioning as an integral part of it. This also lends itself to routing networks through a couple of choke points, which can affect network latency, resulting in a poorer user experience.

Software-defined networking (SDN) and software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) offer an alternative option that increases the visibility of network activities.

The application-level awareness of the SD-WAN allows businesses to leverage the heightened level of visibility across the WAN, allowing visibility of network traffic from the edge to the Cloud.

This visibility makes it easy to meet compliance objectives by continually watching for errant processes and application activity. For example, SD-WAN’s built-in intelligence enables monitoring of the traffic flowing across the network from each endpoint. Advanced routing functionality can be deployed to route specific applications down certain paths (e.g.: Office365 web traffic via direct internet egress).

Network-level visibility can help tighten control over ‘shadow IT’ – endpoints, such as cloud applications and mobile devices, which have been introduced by employees without the IT organisation’s knowledge or control.

Shadow IT presents a real and present danger to the integrity of network data and the network itself – and without adequate visibility, a compromised endpoint will provide free rein to attackers that can fly under the radar indefinitely.

Better visibility also allows network managers to more closely monitor the demands of applications as they are added to the environment and put to the test by users under real-world conditions. This ensures that network performance issues can be identified early and appropriate capacity increases or reconfiguration undertaken as quickly as possible.

Because they define and manage network operational and security parameters, SDN and SD-WAN environments provide a new front line in the detection of, and response to, critical security events. With the support of a managed service partner like NTT, problems can often be fixed before you are even aware of them.

In the software-defined world, networks no longer have to be opaque. Full visibility into application and cloud layers ensures that IT organisations have a better view than ever of what’s happening on their network – and a better chance than ever of responding to it immediately and definitively.

Find out more about how SD-WAN can help with managing your network more effectively and easily at www.nttict.com/sd-wan

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Andoni Salvador
Author Name: Andoni Salvador

Andoni Salvador is a Network Solutions Architect at NTT Communications ICT Solutions (NTT ICT) with over 14 years’ experience in the IT industry. He thrives on working closely with customers to understand their business requirements and technology environment, then designing a robust network solution that is fit for purpose.

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Added 24 May 2018

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