July 18, 2024

SDWAN Overlay Network Deployment vs Underlay Network Deployment

9 min read
Discover the key differences between SDWAN overlay network deployment and underlay network deployment in this informative article.
Two overlapping networks

Two overlapping networks

In today’s business landscape, enterprises rely heavily on their network infrastructure to facilitate communication, collaboration, and data transfer. The ever-increasing demand for bandwidth and security has led to the rise of Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SDWAN) technology. SDWAN is a revolutionary technology that enables efficient management of wide area networks by abstracting the network hardware from the control plane. SDWAN can be deployed using two methods: Overlay Network Deployment and Underlay Network Deployment.

Understanding the Differences between Overlay and Underlay Networks

In simple terms, an overlay network is a virtual network created on top of an existing physical network, while an underlay network is the physical network on which the overlay network is built. An overlay network is designed to offer additional services such as encryption and multipathing, which are not available on the underlay network. The overlay network is typically used to send traffic between sites, while the underlay network acts as a transport mechanism for that traffic.

One of the key advantages of overlay networks is their ability to provide a high level of flexibility and scalability. Since they are not tied to any specific physical infrastructure, overlay networks can be easily expanded or contracted as needed, without requiring any changes to the underlying physical network. This makes them an ideal solution for organizations that need to quickly adapt to changing business requirements or market conditions.

However, overlay networks also have some potential drawbacks. For example, they can introduce additional complexity and overhead, which can impact performance and increase the risk of network failures. Additionally, since overlay networks rely on the underlying physical network for transport, any issues with the physical network can also impact the overlay network. As a result, it is important to carefully consider the pros and cons of overlay networks before deciding whether they are the right solution for your organization.

Benefits of SDWAN Overlay Networks over Underlay Networks

The primary advantage of deploying an SDWAN overlay network is that it provides additional services such as encryption, path selection, and firewall. These services improve the overall efficiency and security of the network and reduce the complexity of managing it. Additionally, the SDWAN overlay network can span across various underlay networks, ensuring that the network is scalable and flexible.

Another benefit of SDWAN overlay networks is that they can prioritize traffic based on application requirements. This means that critical applications can be given priority over less important ones, ensuring that they receive the necessary bandwidth and reducing the risk of network congestion. Furthermore, SDWAN overlay networks can dynamically adjust to changes in network conditions, such as bandwidth availability and latency, to ensure optimal performance.

Advantages of Underlay Networks over SDWAN Overlay Networks

The primary advantage of deploying an underlay network is that it provides a stable and reliable foundation for the SDWAN overlay network. The underlay network provides the necessary bandwidth, latency, and jitter required for efficient communication across the network. Additionally, the underlay network is simpler to manage than an SDWAN overlay network as there are fewer components to manage.

Another advantage of underlay networks is that they offer better security than SDWAN overlay networks. Underlay networks are designed to provide secure connectivity between different locations, and they use advanced security protocols to protect data in transit. In contrast, SDWAN overlay networks rely on the public internet, which can be vulnerable to cyber attacks and data breaches.

Finally, underlay networks are more cost-effective than SDWAN overlay networks. Underlay networks use existing infrastructure, such as MPLS or VPN, which reduces the need for additional hardware and software. This makes underlay networks a more affordable option for businesses that want to improve their network performance without breaking the bank.

How SDWAN Overlay Network Deployment Works

The deployment of an SDWAN overlay network involves installing a software device called a SDWAN controller, which interacts with the underlay network. The SDWAN controller manages the overlay network and provides a centralized location to manage network policies and monitor network performance. The SDWAN overlay network is created using virtual tunnels, which are encrypted and sent across the underlying network to provide secure communication between sites.

One of the key benefits of SDWAN overlay network deployment is the ability to prioritize network traffic based on application requirements. This is achieved through the use of Quality of Service (QoS) policies, which allow network administrators to assign different levels of priority to different types of traffic. For example, real-time applications such as video conferencing can be given a higher priority than non-critical traffic such as email. This ensures that critical applications receive the necessary bandwidth and network resources to function properly, even during periods of high network congestion.

How Underlay Network Deployment Works

Underlay network deployment involves provisioning and managing the underlying network infrastructure. This includes the physical hardware such as routers and switches, as well as the configuration and management of the network services at each site. The underlay network is responsible for providing the necessary bandwidth and connectivity required to transport the data between sites.

One important aspect of underlay network deployment is ensuring redundancy and resiliency. This means having backup systems and failover mechanisms in place to prevent network downtime in case of hardware failure or other disruptions. Additionally, underlay networks often incorporate security measures such as firewalls and intrusion detection systems to protect against cyber threats.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between SDWAN Overlay and Underlay Network Deployment

When choosing between an SDWAN overlay and underlay network deployment, several factors need to be considered. One of the primary considerations is the level of control and security required for the network. An SDWAN overlay network provides additional security features such as encryption and firewall that may not be available on the underlay network. Another important consideration is scalability and flexibility. SDWAN overlay networks provide the ability to abstract the underlying network hardware, making it easier to scale the network and add new sites.

Another factor to consider is the cost of deployment and maintenance. SDWAN overlay networks may require additional hardware and software, which can increase the initial deployment cost. However, they may also provide cost savings in the long run by reducing the need for manual configuration and maintenance. On the other hand, underlay networks may have lower deployment costs but may require more manual configuration and maintenance, which can increase operational costs over time.

Lastly, the type of applications and traffic that will be running on the network should also be considered. SDWAN overlay networks can provide better application performance and traffic management by dynamically routing traffic based on application requirements. Underlay networks may not have this level of application awareness and may require manual configuration to optimize traffic flow.

Real-World Examples of Successful SDWAN Overlay Network Deployments

One of the most significant advantages of SDWAN overlay networks is their ability to provide secure and efficient communication between sites. For example, multiple banks have implemented SDWAN overlay networks to provide secure and reliable communication between their branches and head office. Another example is a large retail company that used an SDWAN overlay network to connect multiple countries and regions, enabling efficient communication and data sharing.

Another real-world example of a successful SDWAN overlay network deployment is a healthcare organization that used the technology to connect its various clinics and hospitals. The SDWAN overlay network allowed for secure and reliable communication between the different locations, which was crucial for sharing patient information and coordinating care.

Additionally, a manufacturing company implemented an SDWAN overlay network to connect its factories and warehouses across the globe. This allowed for real-time data sharing and communication between the different locations, improving efficiency and reducing downtime.

Real-World Examples of Successful Underlay Network Deployments

Underlay network deployments are commonly used in large enterprises that require a stable and reliable foundation for their SDWAN overlay network. A good example is a manufacturing company that deployed an underlay network to provide stable, high-bandwidth connectivity between its factories and headquarters. Another example is a healthcare provider that deployed an underlay network to ensure reliable communication between its hospitals and clinics.

Another real-world example of a successful underlay network deployment is a financial institution that deployed an underlay network to provide secure and reliable connectivity between its branches and data centers. The underlay network helped the institution to ensure that its customers’ financial transactions were processed quickly and securely.

Additionally, a transportation company deployed an underlay network to provide reliable connectivity between its logistics centers and warehouses. The underlay network helped the company to optimize its supply chain operations and improve its overall efficiency.

Key Considerations for Planning Your SDWAN Overlay Network Deployment

When planning an SDWAN overlay network deployment, several key considerations need to be taken into account. One of the primary considerations is the available bandwidth and latency of the underlying network. The SDWAN overlay network requires sufficient bandwidth to provide efficient communication between sites. Another important consideration is the level of security required. An SDWAN overlay network provides additional security features such as encryption and firewall that may not be available on the underlay network.

Another important consideration is the type of traffic that will be transmitted over the SDWAN overlay network. Different types of traffic have different requirements for bandwidth, latency, and prioritization. For example, voice and video traffic require low latency and high bandwidth to ensure quality communication, while email and file transfers may have lower priority and can tolerate higher latency.

It is also important to consider the scalability of the SDWAN overlay network. As the number of sites and users increases, the network should be able to handle the additional traffic and provide consistent performance. Additionally, the network should be designed to accommodate future growth and changes in the organization’s needs.

Key Considerations for Planning Your Underlay Network Deployment

When planning an underlay network deployment, it is essential to consider the network topology and architecture. The underlay network should be designed to provide the necessary bandwidth, latency, and reliability required to transport the data between sites. Another important consideration is the construction of the network, such as using a redundant architecture, which ensures high availability and fault tolerance.

Best Practices for Implementing an SDWAN Overlay Network

Implementing an SDWAN overlay network requires careful planning and execution. One of the best practices is to ensure that the SDWAN overlay network is designed to be scalable and flexible, ensuring that it can adapt to the changing needs of the organization. Additionally, it is essential to implement a robust security policy, including encrypting all traffic and implementing a firewall.

Best Practices for Implementing an Underlay Network

Implementing an underlay network requires careful consideration of the network topology and architecture. One of the best practices is to use a redundant network architecture, which ensures high availability and fault tolerance. Additionally, it is important to monitor the network continuously to identify and address any issues proactively.

Tips for Optimizing Your SDWAN Overlay Network Performance

One of the best ways to optimize the performance of an SDWAN overlay network is to use a software-defined approach to manage network traffic. This approach involves creating policies that prioritize traffic based on application and user requirements. Additionally, it is important to monitor the network and adjust the policies as needed to ensure efficient performance.

Tips for Optimizing Your Underlay Network Performance

Optimizing the performance of an underlay network involves ensuring that the network hardware is designed to handle the required bandwidth and traffic efficiently. Additionally, it is essential to configure the network services correctly and monitor the network continuously to identify and address any performance issues proactively.

Future Trends in SDWAN Overlay/Underlay Network Deployment and Management

The future of SDWAN overlay/underlay network deployment and management is expected to be heavily influenced by emerging technologies such as 5G and artificial intelligence. Network management will become even more critical as networks become increasingly complex and there will be an increased need for automation to manage these networks efficiently. Additionally, the implementation of SDWAN technology is expected to continue to grow in popularity as organizations seek to improve their network security, scalability, and performance.

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