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SD-WAN: Steering Apps In The Right Direction

Do your SaaS-based applications currently get steered in the most optimal way possible? If they do, is this a time consuming and manual effort? Or is there currently an automation expert who is crafting all of the components together to optimally direct the traffic? Chances are that the answer to these previous questions is “NO”. And if your answer is “YES” then are you already utilizing SD-WAN? If the answer is again “NO” then I encourage you to read on.

Less Arg, More AAR

Steering apps without AAR

SD-WAN continues to build up hype of being able to solve all of your edge issues. One aspect of SD-WAN that is really interesting is Application Aware Routing (AAR). AAR is not exactly new to SD-WAN as it has been around and talked about for a few years now. But I want to provide some specific context to show how valuable it can be in reality.

Think of the poor network engineer who has spent countless hours discovering, creating, and updating access lists for a single SaaS-based application. Then they find out that the provider has changed several of their IP addresses by the time they were finished. Time to start over. And don’t forget at the same time taking those access lists and matching them up with port lists and more just to come close to an application mapping. From there, the engineer handcrafts some voodoo rules to appear like they have accomplished their mission: Steering apps in the (assumed) right direction. Just to find out that their attempt has failed them dearly. This is just one example of how SD-WAN AAR can help. AAR continually learns application footprints as they traverse the WAN which helps in making decisions extremely useful. Applications are discovered via Deep Packet Inspection (DPI). 

AAR In Action

So let’s look at another example of how AAR could come into play. Say all of your branch offices have a SD-WAN appliance and they are all managed by the centralized controller. The intelligence of these appliances could help steer something like Office 365 traffic for a single branch office out to another branch office, rather than it’s local internet connection, if the logic determined that the response time would be improved. Or maybe you have another application that has been discovered and decide you would prefer to drop this traffic. AAR would be able to handle the access lists and policies that are required to ensure that this traffic is indeed dropped. The key here for all of this magic would be the automation that is handled in order to properly define these access lists and policies, therefore removing the manual intervention from humans and minimizing human error. This automation is handled by a centralized SD-WAN controller.

At the end of the day think of SD-WAN AAR as a superhero automation expert that learns and understands all traffic flows for your SaaS-based applications. AAR can take what has been learned and translate it into the error-free logic which can be programmatically configured on your SD-WAN devices. This makes a whole lot more sense than living in the dark ages and counting on humans to somehow articulate the proper logic 24×7 to ensure that all of your SaaS applications perform optimally. I am positive you are thinking to yourself that this all sounds WAY too good to be true. But I can ensure you that the proof is in the pudding and SD-WAN AAR is a sure way to get your “Applications steered in the right direction”.

About the author

Larry Smith

Larry Smith is an experienced senior level professional. Well versed in virtualization, storage, compute, networking, security, automation, DevOps methodologies, BASH scripting, Python dabbling and many other areas.

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