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Software-defined networking (SD-WAN) is on a meteoric rise. What was already a strong trajectory has been accelerated by global events over the last year, with businesses and organizations taking on connectivity challenges to support remote work and assure access to the applications that power modern business. In short, a new model for networking is no longer a ‘nice to have’, it has rapidly become an essential piece of the digital transformation picture for every organization.
SD-WAN brings many benefits to the table for this strategic shift, completely modernizing the legacy WAN experience by providing new capabilities such as centralized management and orchestration, zero touch provisioning, and real-time visibility into network performance and health. SD-WAN has quickly become the indispensable architecture for network transformation across the globe.
On the other side of the fence, in the world of applications and Cloud, Kubernetes has similarly become the gold standard in developing applications in a way that enables scale, portability, and extensibility. The lightweight containers of Kubernetes provide similar outcomes for DevOps as SD-WAN delivers for NetOps- agility, flexibility, and a modern approach to today’s multicloud environments.
Bringing NetOps and DevOps closer together
While NetOps has been busy building new networks for the 21st century using SD-WAN, and DevOps has been building new applications for the Cloud era using Kubernetes, the two worlds have remained mostly in distant silos, rarely interacting or integrating with each other.
However, in reality, many Kubernetes clusters around the world have been utilizing SD-WAN without knowing so, connecting to end-users via SD-WAN architectures.
Given that SD-WAN allows for the flexible management and orchestration of networking resources, and Kubernetes offers similar flexibility and infrastructure abstraction for applications, might the two somehow work together?
The answer, as you might have guessed from the title of this blog, is yes. This can be referred to as cloud-native SD-WAN.
The cloud-native SD-WAN project was initiated by Cisco in 2020, with the purpose of creating a new model for tailoring SD-WAN for the specific needs of applications, and creating a true end-to-end system stretching from edge routers to the core of Kubernetes clusters, and beyond to Cloud onramps.
Recently, Cisco, Equinix, and ngena have taken this project one step further. Our companies recently unveiled a cloud-native SD-WAN model in action at the MEF Proof of Concept 3.0 Showcase on February 22, illustrating how ngena’s SD-WAN-as-a-Service platform, Cisco’s leading SD-WAN product line, and the global access and Cloud onramps at scale provided by Equinix can all combine to make a cloud-native SD-WAN a reality.
With hooks into the Kubernetes cluster itself, and the responsiveness and customization provided by SD-WAN extending throughout the network from edge to core to cloud, a cloud-native SD-WAN model intelligently provisions and operates the software-defined network based on application needs. Now, NetOps and DevOps are talking more than ever before, and joining as peers in an end-to-end solution for the Cloud era.
The ngena platform makes all this possible by abstracting network infrastructure and delivering modernized SD-WAN architecture as a flexible service. With this new way of networking, NetOps is able to manage, orchestrate, and gain insight into the software-defined network from a true single pane of glass experience. Combined with other features like zero touch provisioning, the ngena SD-WAN-as-a-Service platform makes new models such as a cloud-native SD-WAN not just a theory, but a tangible reality for IT to achieve next-generation networking capabilities today.
The end result of a cloud-native SD-WAN: better performance for end users, better availability for critical applications, and more possibilities for speed and innovation.