July 18, 2024

Appliance-Less SDWAN Deployment vs Appliance-Based SDWAN Deployment

9 min read
Discover the pros and cons of appliance-less SDWAN deployment versus appliance-based SDWAN deployment in this informative article.
Two networks

Two networks

When it comes to deploying a Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SDWAN) solution for your enterprise, there are two primary approaches: appliance-less deployment and appliance-based deployment. Each approach has its own benefits and drawbacks, making it important to carefully consider your business needs before selecting the right deployment model for your organization.

What is SDWAN and Why is it Important for Enterprise Networking?

But first, let’s start with the basics. SDWAN is a network architecture that uses software to abstract the underlying network infrastructure, providing organizations with greater flexibility, scalability, and security. With SDWAN, organizations have the ability to centrally manage and control their network traffic, dynamically routing traffic across a variety of network connections, whether they be broadband, cellular, or even satellite.

SDWAN solutions have become increasingly important for modern enterprise networking, particularly as businesses continue to adopt cloud-based applications and services. In order to meet the demands of these cloud-based applications, organizations need a network that provides low-latency and high-bandwidth connectivity between users and cloud services. SDWAN helps businesses achieve this goal, while also improving network performance and reducing costs.

Another benefit of SDWAN is its ability to provide enhanced security features. With traditional WANs, security is often implemented at the branch level, which can lead to inconsistencies and vulnerabilities. SDWAN, on the other hand, allows for centralized security policies and enforcement, ensuring that all traffic is secure, regardless of where it originates or terminates.

Furthermore, SDWAN can also improve the user experience by providing application-aware routing. This means that the network can identify and prioritize different types of traffic, such as video conferencing or VoIP, to ensure that they receive the necessary bandwidth and low latency for optimal performance. This can lead to increased productivity and satisfaction among employees, as well as improved customer experiences for businesses that rely on these types of applications.

Pros and Cons of Appliance-Less SDWAN Deployment

Appliance-less SDWAN deployment is a model where the SDWAN solution is deployed entirely within the cloud, without the need for any physical networking appliances. This approach can be highly beneficial for organizations that have a distributed workforce, as it provides secure access to enterprise resources from any location with an internet connection without requiring hardware.

In addition, appliance-less SDWAN solutions typically provide highly scalable services, which can be easily adjusted based on business needs, providing a flexible and cost-effective solution compared to traditional networking appliances.

However, one of the primary drawbacks of this approach is that it can be difficult to achieve the same level of security as appliance-based SDWAN. Diverse network configurations, which are a necessity in an appliance-less SDWAN deployment, can potentially make it difficult to maintain effective security policies. Additionally, virtual SDWAN appliances deployed in the cloud may be tightly integrated within an organization’s cloud infrastructure, making it harder to scale the solution if needed.

Another advantage of appliance-less SDWAN deployment is that it can reduce the complexity of network management. With no physical appliances to manage, IT teams can focus on managing the virtual network infrastructure, which can be done through a centralized management console. This can lead to faster deployment times and easier troubleshooting, as well as reducing the need for on-site technical support.

However, it is important to note that appliance-less SDWAN deployment may not be suitable for all organizations. For example, organizations that require high levels of network performance or have strict compliance requirements may find that appliance-based SDWAN solutions are a better fit. Additionally, organizations that have already invested heavily in physical networking appliances may not want to switch to an appliance-less model, as this could result in a loss of investment.

Advantages of Appliance-Based SDWAN Deployment

On the other hand, appliance-based SDWAN deployment utilizes physical networking appliances that are deployed across an organization’s network infrastructure. This approach offers several key advantages over appliance-less deployment, including greater flexibility and a higher degree of security.

Appliance-based solutions provide more granular control over network policies, giving IT teams greater visibility into their network and the ability to quickly resolve issues or identify performance challenges. Additionally, physical appliances offer higher throughput, resilient routing, and improved resiliency, which can all contribute to a more reliable network.

Another advantage of appliance-based SDWAN deployment is that it can be easier to manage and maintain. With physical appliances, IT teams can easily monitor and troubleshoot network issues, as well as perform updates and upgrades to the hardware and software. This can save time and resources compared to managing a software-only solution.

Furthermore, appliance-based SDWAN deployment can offer better performance and user experience. By utilizing physical appliances, organizations can ensure that their network is optimized for their specific needs and requirements. This can result in faster application performance, reduced latency, and improved overall network performance.

How Appliance-Less SDWAN Deployment Saves Cost for Enterprises

One of the primary advantages of the appliance-less SDWAN deployment model is cost savings. Without physical networking appliances to manage, maintain, and replace at regular intervals, organizations can save significantly on capital expenditures and maintenance costs. Additionally, these deployments are highly scalable, allowing businesses to quickly adjust services to meet their evolving business needs.

Another benefit of appliance-less SDWAN deployment is the increased flexibility it provides. With traditional appliance-based SDWAN, businesses are limited to the number of appliances they can deploy, which can be costly and time-consuming to manage. However, with appliance-less SDWAN, businesses can easily add or remove virtual instances as needed, allowing them to quickly and efficiently scale their network to meet changing demands. This flexibility also allows businesses to easily test and deploy new applications and services without the need for additional hardware.

The Importance of Scalability in SDWAN Deployment

Scalability is a major consideration when choosing an SDWAN deployment model. With cloud-based SDWAN solutions, organizations have access to near-infinite computing resources, enabling them to scale their SDWAN infrastructure up or down in response to changing business conditions. Conversely, appliance-based solutions often require significant upfront investments in hardware that can be difficult to scale as business needs grow.

Another important factor to consider when it comes to scalability in SDWAN deployment is the ability to support multiple locations. As organizations grow and expand, they may need to add new branch offices or remote locations. With a scalable SDWAN solution, adding new locations is a simple process that can be done quickly and easily, without the need for significant hardware investments or complex configurations.

Finally, scalability is also important when it comes to supporting new applications and services. As organizations adopt new technologies and applications, they need an SDWAN solution that can support these new services without requiring significant upgrades or changes to the underlying infrastructure. A scalable SDWAN solution can easily accommodate new applications and services, ensuring that organizations can continue to innovate and grow without being held back by their network infrastructure.

Security Features in Appliance-Based SDWAN Deployment

Appliance-based SDWAN solutions typically offer a higher level of security compared to their appliance-less counterparts. The network policies enforced by physical appliances offer more granular control over access, enabling IT teams to establish secure network access protocols that can prevent unauthorized access to enterprise resources.

Additionally, physical networking appliances offer reliable perimeter security features, including robust firewalls, intrusion detection/prevention, and denial-of-service protection. In contrast, virtual appliances deployed in the cloud may have difficulty maintaining these security features, due to the abstraction layers in the cloud environment, which may limit their control over network traffic.

Another advantage of appliance-based SDWAN deployment is the ability to implement security measures at the edge of the network. This means that security policies can be enforced at the point where traffic enters the network, providing an additional layer of protection against potential threats. This is particularly important for organizations that deal with sensitive data, such as financial institutions or healthcare providers.

Furthermore, physical appliances can be configured to provide secure remote access to enterprise resources. This is especially useful for organizations with a distributed workforce, as it allows employees to securely access company resources from remote locations. With the rise of remote work, this feature has become increasingly important for businesses looking to maintain productivity while ensuring the security of their data.

How to Choose the Right SDWAN Deployment Model for Your Business Needs

Ultimately, choosing the right SDWAN deployment model for your organization depends on a variety of factors including business requirements, IT capabilities, and budgetary constraints. Key factors to consider include network complexity, the specific security needs of your organization, desired uptime and reliability, scalability and flexibility, and budgetary considerations.

Another important factor to consider when choosing an SDWAN deployment model is the level of control and management you require. Some organizations may prefer a fully managed solution, where the service provider handles all aspects of the SDWAN deployment, including monitoring, maintenance, and troubleshooting. Other organizations may prefer a co-managed solution, where they have more control over the deployment and can handle some aspects themselves, while still relying on the service provider for support. It’s important to assess your organization’s internal resources and expertise to determine which level of control and management is the best fit for your needs.

Cloud-based vs On-premise SDWAN Solutions: Which is Better?

In addition to appliance-less vs appliance-based SDWAN deployments, businesses can also choose between cloud-based vs on-premise SDWAN solutions. Cloud-based SDWAN solutions offer greater scalability and flexibility, while on-premise deployments enable businesses to maintain greater control over their network.

Understanding the Differences in Management and Maintenance Between Appliance-Less and Appliance-Based SDWAN Deployments

Management and maintenance are critical considerations when choosing an SDWAN deployment model. Appliance-less SDWAN deployments require less management overhead, as the cloud provider typically manages tasks such as software upgrades and hardware maintenance. Alternatively, appliance-based SDWAN deployments may require more hands-on management and maintenance of physical appliances, although the level of required maintenance will depend on the specific vendor and model chosen.

Hybrid SDWAN Deployment: Combining the Best of Both Worlds

Finally, businesses that need to balance the flexibility of cloud-based SDWAN deployments with the security and reliability of appliance-based deployments may choose to deploy a hybrid SDWAN solution. Hybrid deployments allow organizations to mix and match appliance-based and appliance-less solutions to achieve a more tailored solution that meets their specific business needs.

A Look into the Future of SDWAN Deployment: What to Expect

As SDWAN technology continues to evolve, there are a number of trends that will shape the future of SDWAN deployment. These include increased adoption of cloud-based solutions and the further integration of security features directly into SDWAN solutions. Additionally, as more businesses adopt IoT and edge computing solutions, we can expect to see SDWAN deployed across more diverse network environments.

Top Considerations for Successful Implementation of Appliance-Less or Appliance-Based SDWAN Deployment

Regardless of the specific SDWAN deployment model chosen, there are a number of key considerations to keep in mind to achieve successful deployment. These include proper planning and sizing for your network environment, selecting a vendor with a proven track record of successful SDWAN deployments, establishing clear and concise security policies, and training IT teams to properly manage and maintain the SDWAN infrastructure.

Case Studies: Real-world Examples of Successful Appliance-Less vs Appliance-Based SDWAN Deployments

There are many examples of successful SDWAN deployments, both appliance-less and appliance-based. One notable example is Banca Carige, an Italian bank that deployed an appliance-based SDWAN solution to connect its 600 office branches located throughout Italy. The bank was able to simplify its network infrastructure, improve uptime and reliability, and reduce costs by over 30%.

Another example is EMAAR Properties, a Dubai-based real estate developer that deployed a cloud-based SDWAN solution to connect its 65+ sites across the Middle East. The cloud-based solution provided the flexibility and scalability that EMAAR needed to accommodate future growth, while also improving network performance and reducing costs compared to traditional MPLS solutions.

Final Thoughts

Selecting the right SDWAN deployment model for your business can be a complex process, requiring careful consideration of a variety of factors. By evaluating your specific business needs, IT capabilities, and budgetary constraints, you can select an SDWAN solution that will provide the performance, reliability, and security that your organization needs to succeed.

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