June 14, 2024

Network Availability vs Network Reliability in SDWAN Performance

8 min read
Discover the key differences between network availability and network reliability in SDWAN performance.
A network diagram with two overlapping circles

A network diagram with two overlapping circles

SDWAN, or Software Defined Wide Area Network, is revolutionizing the way organizations manage their networks. It offers a wide range of benefits, including reducing operational costs, providing secure connectivity, and helping to optimize network performance. SDWAN also relies heavily on network availability and network reliability to achieve these benefits. In this article, we will take a deep dive into understanding the difference between network availability and network reliability in SDWAN performance, their importance, and how to measure, maintain, and address any challenges associated with them.

Understanding the Difference Between Network Availability and Network Reliability in SDWAN Performance

Network availability is the amount of time a network is accessible to users. While network reliability is the ability of the network to perform consistently over a particular period. A network with low availability might have frequent downtime issues, while a network with low reliability might have intermittent slow performance problems.

In SDWAN performance, network availability and network reliability are two primary factors that determine the smooth running of the network. Furthermore, SDWAN comprises multiple paths that the network traffic travels. Consequently, network availability and reliability are essential for providing secure, robust, and fast connectivity between different locations while ensuring good user experience.

One of the ways to ensure network availability and reliability in SDWAN performance is by implementing redundancy. Redundancy involves having multiple paths for network traffic to travel, ensuring that if one path fails, the network traffic can still reach its destination through an alternative path. This redundancy ensures that the network is always available and reliable, even in the event of a failure.

Another critical factor in ensuring network availability and reliability in SDWAN performance is monitoring. Network administrators need to monitor the network continuously to identify any issues that may arise and address them promptly. This monitoring ensures that any problems are detected and resolved before they can cause significant disruptions to the network’s availability and reliability.

The Importance of Network Availability and Network Reliability in SDWAN Performance

Under optimal conditions, SDWAN can provide far superior performance compared to other traditional WAN networks. However, achieving optimal conditions requires taking network availability and reliability into account when designing, deploying, and managing the network. Failure to do so can lead to frequent downtimes, unscheduled maintenance, low bandwidth utilization, poor network performance, and poor user experience.

High network availability and reliability are important because they help to increase network uptime and reduce maintenance and downtime costs. Besides, they help to prevent service degradation and outages, especially when one network path is unavailable, congested, or failing.

One way to ensure high network availability and reliability is to implement redundancy in the network design. This can be achieved by using multiple network paths, such as dual internet connections or a combination of internet and cellular connections. Redundancy helps to ensure that if one network path fails, traffic can be automatically rerouted to another path, minimizing downtime and service disruption.

The Impact of Network Availability and Network Reliability on SDWAN Performance

Network availability and reliability can impact SDWAN performance in many ways. One of the primary impacts is the overall user experience. The level of network availability and reliability has a direct correlation with the user experience. If networks are consistently up and running, users can enjoy seamless connectivity, timely delivery of applications, and high bandwidth performance.

Network availability and reliability also impact SDWAN performance in terms of network utilization and cost savings. By optimizing network availability and reliability, network traffic can be more efficiently managed. This is because SDWAN can automatically route the traffic through the most efficient path, depending on the specific conditions of the network. This, in turn, leads to an increase in network capacity while minimizing costs.

Another impact of network availability and reliability on SDWAN performance is the ability to support remote workers. With the rise of remote work, it is essential to have a reliable network that can support employees working from different locations. SDWAN can provide a secure and reliable connection for remote workers, ensuring that they have access to the same applications and resources as they would in the office.

Finally, network availability and reliability can impact the overall security of the network. A network that is consistently up and running is less vulnerable to cyber attacks and other security threats. SDWAN can provide additional security features, such as encryption and firewalls, to further protect the network and its users.

How to Measure Network Availability and Network Reliability in SDWAN Performance

Measuring network availability and reliability in SDWAN performance is highly critical. This is because it enables network engineers to monitor and address any issues that might arise. Measuring network availability and reliability in SDWAN performance requires monitoring various performance parameters, such as bandwidth utilization, traffic volume, response time, packet loss, and network latency.

Additionally, network engineers can use monitoring tools to measure network uptime and downtime. Some network monitoring tools rely on SNMP, Ping, and traceroutes to provide detailed information about network availability and reliability.

It is important to note that measuring network availability and reliability in SDWAN performance is not a one-time task. Network engineers should continuously monitor network performance to ensure that the network is functioning optimally. This involves setting up alerts and notifications that can help identify any issues that might arise in real-time. By doing so, network engineers can proactively address any issues before they escalate and cause significant downtime or network outages.

Factors That Affect Network Availability and Network Reliability in SDWAN Performance

Several factors impact network availability and reliability in SDWAN performance. One of the primary factors is the network infrastructure. Network infrastructure elements such as routers, links, and switches can be sources of network interruptions or slow performance issues that can reduce network availability and reliability.

Latency is another factor that affects network availability and reliability in SDWAN performance. High latency can lead to slow network performance, while low latency can ensure a good user experience. The speed of links also affects network availability and reliability, as links with high bandwidth provide better network quality.

Another factor that affects network availability and reliability in SDWAN performance is the quality of service (QoS) policies. QoS policies prioritize network traffic and ensure that critical applications receive the necessary bandwidth and network resources. Without proper QoS policies, network performance can suffer, leading to reduced availability and reliability.

Best Practices for Achieving High Network Availability and Reliability in SDWAN Performance

Several best practices can be applied to achieve high network availability and reliability in SDWAN performance. These best practices include:

  • Using multiple network paths to provide redundancy in case of network failures
  • Configuring automatic failover mechanisms to ensure that traffic routes through an alternative path when the current path fails
  • Running network performance audits regularly to identify any potential jitter, packet loss, or outages
  • Deploying QoS (Quality of Service) policies to prioritize network traffic and eliminate congestion issues

Another best practice for achieving high network availability and reliability in SDWAN performance is to implement security measures such as firewalls, intrusion detection systems, and encryption protocols. These measures can help protect the network from cyber threats and ensure that sensitive data is kept secure.

It is also important to have a comprehensive disaster recovery plan in place. This plan should include procedures for backing up data, restoring services, and communicating with stakeholders in the event of a network outage or disaster. Regular testing of the disaster recovery plan can help ensure that it is effective and up-to-date.

Common Challenges with Ensuring High Network Availability and Reliability in SDWAN Performance

Several challenges are associated with ensuring high network availability and reliability. They include:

  • Lack of proper network design and infrastructure capacity planning
  • Low transparency of cloud network traffic and limited visibility of network performance
  • Inadequate network traffic management, which can lead to congested links or dropped packets
  • Insufficient network security that can expose the network to cybersecurity threats, leading to network interruptions

Another challenge is the complexity of managing multiple network connections and ensuring seamless failover between them. This requires a high level of expertise and can be time-consuming, especially when dealing with a large number of connections.

Additionally, network performance can be affected by external factors such as weather conditions, power outages, and natural disasters. These events can cause network downtime and disrupt business operations, making it crucial to have a disaster recovery plan in place.

How to Address Issues with Low Network Availability or Reliability in SDWAN Performance

Addressing low network availability and reliability involves identifying the root cause of the issue. Once the cause of the problem has been identified, it’s possible to begin eliminating the problem. This can be done by upgrading network infrastructure, increasing network capacity, setting up automatic failover mechanisms, and improving network security. Additionally, network engineers can implement QoS policies and deploy network monitoring tools to monitor network traffic and identify any issues promptly.

One common cause of low network availability and reliability is network congestion. This occurs when there is too much traffic on the network, causing delays and dropped packets. To address this issue, network engineers can implement traffic shaping policies to prioritize critical traffic and limit non-essential traffic. They can also deploy load balancing mechanisms to distribute traffic evenly across multiple network paths.

Another factor that can impact network availability and reliability is the distance between network endpoints. When network endpoints are located far apart, it can lead to latency and packet loss. To address this issue, network engineers can deploy edge devices closer to the endpoints, or use WAN optimization techniques such as data compression and caching to reduce the amount of data that needs to be transmitted over the network.

Comparing Different Approaches to Improving Network Availability and Reliability in SDWAN Performance

Several approaches can be used to improve network availability and reliability in SDWAN performance. They include:

  • Use of redundant network paths: This involves deploying multiple network paths that traffic can be routed through in case of network failures.
  • Automatic failover mechanisms: This approach ensures that if the current path fails, traffic will route through an alternative path without intervention.
  • QoS policies: Prioritizes network traffic, eliminates congestion issues, and enhances network performance.

Another approach to improving network availability and reliability in SDWAN performance is through the use of network monitoring tools. These tools provide real-time visibility into network performance, allowing network administrators to quickly identify and troubleshoot issues before they impact network availability and reliability. Additionally, network monitoring tools can help identify areas for improvement in network performance, allowing for proactive measures to be taken to prevent future issues.

The Future of Network Availability and Reliability in SDWAN: Trends and Predictions

The future of network availability and reliability in SDWAN relies on new technological innovations, such as AI and Machine Learning. These technologies will help to automate network monitoring, troubleshoot network issues, and improve network performance. Additionally, the use of IoT devices to monitor and manage network performance will continue to gather momentum, leading to the development of more efficient and reliable SDWAN networks.

In conclusion, achieving high network availability and network reliability are essential components in ensuring optimal SDWAN performance. By understanding and implementing best practices to measure, maintain, and address any challenges, organizations can achieve and maintain highly available and reliable SDWAN networks.

Furthermore, the adoption of cloud-based SDWAN solutions is expected to increase in the coming years. This will enable organizations to leverage the benefits of cloud computing, such as scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness, while also ensuring high network availability and reliability. With the increasing demand for remote work and the need for secure and reliable connectivity, cloud-based SDWAN solutions are becoming a popular choice for organizations of all sizes.

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