What Software Defined Networking Can Do for IoT
SD-WAN accomplishes this by adding software overlay to the enterprise network that separates network control and management functions from the physical network, similar to what software-defined networking can do in a data center or public carrier network.
“SD-WAN is a network edge architecture comprised of both overlay (software-based) and underlay (circuit-based) components,” said Jack Deal, managing director of TechCaliber Consulting, LLC, via email. “The overlay elements provide the ‘control plane’ for prioritizing and directing network traffic, and include elements such as SD-WAN orchestrators and controllers. Any required customer premises hardware is part of the overlay and would communicate with the centralized controllers (which are usually cloud-based). The underlay elements provide the data plane for moving traffic between sites, and consist of cable/DSL broadband, Ethernet access with MPLS or dedicated Internet ports, 4G (and eventually 5G) wireless and Layer 2 [in the OSI model of] point-to-point connections.”
Cisco’s Oswal added, “SD-WAN is primarily a software solution that can be delivered on trusted hardware, in the cloud, or on virtual appliances. The SD-WAN software stack comprises essential features such as routing, segmentation, access policies, security, and management and orchestration.”
By separating control and management from a variety of devices, network elements and connectivity circuits that make up the network, an enterprise can create pool of total network capacity from these circuits to use as needed, while enabling visibility throughout the network. The visibility allows network managers, in turn, to dynamically identify the best possible paths for high-priority traffic, to allocate the necessary bandwidth and administer required security policies to ensure the quality and integrity of the most mission-critical services.
“Networks have historically been static in nature.not very cost-effective and not flexible,” said Christopher Antlitz, principal analyst at Technology Business Research. “SD-WAN makes them dynamic in nature. It makes networks flexible it optimizes them It makes them more agile to support new services. It gives more control to the IT staff in the enterprise.”
SD-WAN and IoT
SD-WAN may have an important role to play in enterprise and industrial networks where IoT is starting to have a larger presence. While many IoT applications do not yet require large amounts of bandwidth on short notice, SD-WAN-based visibility into multiple enterprise connections and control of entire enterprise capacity pools will be able to dynamically allocate bandwidth for mission-critical IoT applications as they emerge, while also segmenting the most latency-sensitive and security-sensitive applications of the industrial IoT.
“We see SD-WAN in front of or part of the IoT gateway or a highly optimized service residing on the microcontroller architecture,” said TechCaliber’s Deal. “Although today’s IoT use cases may not require large bandwidth-on-demand, SD-WAN’s ability to rapidly scale for increased traffic loads will become a significant advantage with the anticipated growth in connected devices.”
In addition, SD-WAN’s ability to identify new devices coming onto the networks and allocate bandwidth to remote network users will serve enterprises well as they start to expand their IoT network presence throughout their WANs to branch offices and other distributed locations.