July 18, 2024

Traffic Steering Accuracy vs Traffic Steering Latency in SDWAN Performance

8 min read
Discover the key differences between traffic steering accuracy and traffic steering latency in SDWAN performance.
A city street with a network of roads

A city street with a network of roads

Software-Defined Wide Area Networks (SDWAN) have emerged as a solution to many of the challenges that traditional Wide Area Networks (WANs) face. SDWANs overcome the deficiencies of WANs by utilizing software-based virtualization to provide a more flexible and cost-effective network architecture. One of the key features of SDWAN is traffic steering, which plays a critical role in ensuring efficient use of the network resources and optimal user experience. However, the success of traffic steering in SDWAN performance depends largely on two factors: accuracy and latency.

The Importance of Traffic Steering Accuracy and Latency in SDWAN Performance

Traffic steering involves the intelligent routing of network traffic based on predefined policies and network conditions. The goal of traffic steering in SDWAN is to ensure the best possible path is selected for all traffic, depending on its type, destination, and priority. The accuracy and latency of traffic steering are essential factors that determine the effectiveness of this routing.

Accuracy refers to the degree of precision with which traffic steering policies are applied to the traffic. If the traffic is accurately steered, it will follow the most optimal path available. Latency, on the other hand, refers to the time it takes for traffic to be directed to its destination. Lower latency of traffic steering results in faster and more efficient network performance, which translates into a better user experience.

One of the challenges in achieving high accuracy and low latency in traffic steering is the dynamic nature of network conditions. Network traffic patterns can change rapidly, and new applications and services can be added to the network at any time. To address this challenge, SDWAN solutions use advanced algorithms and machine learning techniques to continuously monitor network conditions and adjust traffic steering policies in real-time.

Another important consideration in traffic steering is security. SDWAN solutions must ensure that traffic is routed securely, and that sensitive data is protected from unauthorized access. This requires the use of encryption and other security measures to protect data in transit. SDWAN solutions also provide visibility and control over network traffic, allowing administrators to monitor and manage traffic flows to ensure compliance with security policies.

Understanding the Role of Traffic Steering in SDWAN Networks

SDWAN networks, by nature, are designed to provide multiple paths for traffic to take. These paths may include public Internet connections, private MPLS circuits, or even cellular networks. Traffic steering mechanisms decide which path a specific type of traffic should take, based on a range of predefined policies and current network conditions. The selection of the correct path is crucial to ensure the best possible network performance.

One of the key benefits of traffic steering in SDWAN networks is the ability to prioritize critical applications. For example, a company may prioritize their VoIP traffic over email traffic, to ensure that phone calls are not disrupted by network congestion. This can be achieved through the use of Quality of Service (QoS) policies, which assign different levels of priority to different types of traffic.

Another important aspect of traffic steering in SDWAN networks is the ability to dynamically adjust traffic paths based on network conditions. For example, if a particular path becomes congested or experiences high packet loss, traffic can be automatically rerouted to a different path to avoid these issues. This can help to ensure that network performance remains consistent, even in the face of changing network conditions.

How Traffic Steering Impacts Network Performance and User Experience

The main reason traffic steering is essential to SDWAN performance is that it ensures better utilization of the available network resources. By directing traffic over the optimal path, the user experience is improved, and network congestion is minimized. Efficient traffic steering also enhances security by routing sensitive traffic over encrypted paths, enhancing the overall network security posture.

Another benefit of traffic steering is that it allows for better management of network traffic during peak usage times. By prioritizing certain types of traffic, such as video conferencing or VoIP calls, over less critical traffic, like email or web browsing, network administrators can ensure that the most important traffic is given priority and delivered with minimal delay.

Furthermore, traffic steering can also help organizations save money on their network costs. By directing traffic over the most cost-effective paths, such as utilizing less expensive internet connections or routing traffic through data centers with lower costs, organizations can reduce their overall network expenses while still maintaining high levels of performance and user experience.

Examining the Factors Affecting Traffic Steering Accuracy and Latency in SDWAN

The accuracy and latency of traffic steering are influenced by several factors. These include the configuration of traffic steering policies, current network conditions, and the complexity of the network architecture. Complex network architectures are often difficult to steer, resulting in latency and reduced accuracy. Regular monitoring of network conditions can help to optimize traffic steering policies, ensuring accuracy and reduced latency.

Another factor that can affect traffic steering accuracy and latency is the type of traffic being steered. Different types of traffic have varying requirements for latency and bandwidth, and this can impact the effectiveness of traffic steering policies. For example, real-time applications such as video conferencing require low latency and high bandwidth, while file transfers may be less sensitive to latency but require high bandwidth.

In addition, the location of the traffic source and destination can also impact traffic steering accuracy and latency. If the source and destination are located far apart, there may be more network hops and potential congestion points, which can increase latency and reduce accuracy. Traffic steering policies should take into account the location of the source and destination, and prioritize routing based on the shortest and most efficient path.

Comparing Different Approaches to Traffic Steering in SDWAN Networks

The approaches to traffic steering in SDWAN networks vary depending on the vendor and the specific technology used. However, two main approaches stand out: active and passive traffic steering. Active traffic steering involves real-time decision-making based on the performance of the network. Passive traffic steering relies on preconfigured policies that selectively route traffic over predefined paths. Active traffic steering is generally considered more efficient and provides better latency control.

Another approach to traffic steering in SDWAN networks is hybrid traffic steering. This approach combines both active and passive traffic steering techniques to optimize network performance. Hybrid traffic steering uses real-time decision-making to route traffic over the best available path, while also relying on preconfigured policies to ensure that critical applications are always prioritized. This approach provides a balance between flexibility and control, making it a popular choice for many organizations.

The Pros and Cons of Active vs Passive Traffic Steering in SDWAN Performance

The choice between active and passive traffic steering depends on the specific requirements of the network. Active traffic steering is more effective in networks with dynamic traffic patterns and high network traffic loads. The downside is that it requires more sophisticated technology and ongoing monitoring of network performance. Passive traffic steering, on the other hand, is easier to implement and is ideal for networks with static traffic patterns. The downside is that it offers less flexibility and may not be as efficient as active traffic steering in dynamic networks.

It is important to note that the choice between active and passive traffic steering is not always a clear-cut decision. Some networks may benefit from a combination of both methods, with active traffic steering used for high-priority traffic and passive traffic steering used for lower-priority traffic. Additionally, the choice may also depend on the specific SDWAN solution being used, as some solutions may have built-in capabilities for one method over the other. Ultimately, the decision should be based on a thorough analysis of the network’s requirements and capabilities.

Best Practices for Improving Traffic Steering Accuracy and Latency in SDWAN Networks

To ensure optimal traffic steering accuracy and latency, a few best practices should be observed. First, regularly monitor network conditions and adjust traffic steering policies where necessary. Second, choose the most appropriate approach (active vs passive) based on the specific requirements of the network. Third, optimize network architecture where possible to reduce complexity and make it easier to steer traffic. Lastly, employ a range of other network optimization techniques such as data compression and deduplication to minimize traffic and improve network performance.

It is also important to consider the security implications of traffic steering in SDWAN networks. Implementing secure traffic steering policies can help prevent unauthorized access and protect sensitive data. Additionally, regularly updating and patching network devices can help mitigate security risks and ensure the overall security of the network.

Real-World Case Studies: Successful Implementation of Traffic Steering in SDWAN Networks

Several real-world case studies highlight the successful implementation of traffic steering in SDWAN networks. In one such case, a large industrial corporation experienced significant improvement in network performance when they deployed an SDWAN solution that included real-time traffic steering. The organization reported that network reliability increased, and user experience improved thanks to better traffic steering accuracy and latency control.

In another case study, a global financial services company implemented SDWAN with traffic steering to improve application performance and reduce network downtime. The company reported a 50% reduction in network outages and a 30% increase in application performance. The IT team also found it easier to manage the network and troubleshoot issues with the help of traffic steering analytics.

Furthermore, a healthcare organization implemented SDWAN with traffic steering to improve the performance of their electronic health record (EHR) system. The organization reported that the EHR system was more responsive, and clinicians were able to access patient records faster. The IT team also found it easier to prioritize traffic and ensure that critical applications received the necessary bandwidth, resulting in improved patient care.

Future Trends in Traffic Steering Technology for Enhanced SDWAN Performance

The future of traffic steering technology holds many exciting opportunities. Advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are expected to lead to more intelligent traffic steering mechanisms. The incorporation of these technologies could lead to traffic steering policies that learn from network behavior and self-adjust, improving traffic steering accuracy and latency further. Other trends expected to shape the future of traffic steering include the integration of 5G networks and the continued development of SDWAN solutions.

In conclusion, traffic steering is a critical component of SDWAN that enables network administrators to optimize the routing of network traffic based on predefined rules and current network conditions. The accuracy and latency of traffic steering mechanisms play a key role in determining the overall efficiency of the SDWAN network and the user experience. As such, network administrators should choose the most appropriate traffic steering approach (active vs passive) and implement best practices to ensure optimal traffic steering accuracy and latency control.

Another trend that is expected to shape the future of traffic steering is the increasing use of cloud-based applications. As more and more businesses move their applications to the cloud, traffic steering mechanisms will need to be able to handle the increased traffic and ensure that it is routed efficiently. This will require the development of new traffic steering policies that take into account the unique characteristics of cloud-based applications and the different types of traffic they generate. Additionally, the use of edge computing is also expected to increase, which will require traffic steering mechanisms to be able to route traffic to the appropriate edge devices in real-time.

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