These four highly related trends will see the introduction of powerful new networking solutions.
SD-WAN popularity rises
Software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) products continued to increase in popularity. Back in August 2016, I wrote a No Jitter post about how SD-WAN is a good way to start the path to software-defined networking (SDN). My advice is still accurate. You can reduce WAN connectivity costs, improve WAN performance, and manage a large set of devices from one management console. The centralized management functionality provides the most benefit. It's like getting network automation, SDN, WAN acceleration, and Internet VPN in one system.
SD-WAN products multiplex data over multiple physical links to provide better performance than available on dedicated links. The controller allows you to specify QoS characteristics that optimize the transfer of time-critical network traffic (such as voice and UC applications) so that bulk traffic doesn't impact it. Even more importantly, you can easily characterize unimportant traffic, marking its priority lower than any of your business traffic (I’m thinking of streaming music and video downloads as the unimportant traffic that often impacts business traffic).
There's a downside though. There are no SD-WAN interoperability standards, so each vendor’s product is unique in its functional details. But that’s no different than what you would find from WAN accelerators, so it isn’t like you’ve given up functionality that you had with the prior generation of products.
The Data-Driven Network
I realized late this year that several products now stream analytics data from the network for use in improving the network and applications. I wrote about this relatively new development in the October post "Is the Data-Driven Network the Next Step in Networking?
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