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How does SD-WAN manage real-time network traffic performance?

Most people have experienced poor quality when it comes to real-time network traffic, like VoIP and video. But SD-WAN can help prioritize traffic and improve reliability.

Software-defined WAN delivers substantial benefits, including reliability, predictable application performance and improved security. SD-WAN technologies identify real-time network traffic and provide prioritized transport to ensure high-quality communications.

Real-time network traffic, like voice over IP and video, requires specific network characteristics in order to deliver a high-quality user experience. It requires networks with high-enough bandwidth, low latency and minimal packet loss. The unpredictable nature of internet bandwidth can cause real-time communications over the internet to suffer from poor-quality voice and video -- and we've all experienced poor-quality voice and video over the internet. Let's define a couple of key terms commonly used when discussing WAN traffic quality:

  • Packet loss is the discarding of packets in a network when a router or other network device is overloaded and cannot accept additional packets at a given moment.
  • Latency is the amount of time it takes for a data packet to get from one point to another.
  • Jitter is the variation in the delay of received packets. Packets are sent in a continuous stream and are spaced evenly apart. Because of network congestion, the delay between packets can vary, instead of remaining constant.

SD-WAN policies handle real-time network traffic

SD-WAN enables IT to assign policies to prioritize traffic over WAN links. It constantly monitors the status of each WAN link and can intelligently steer traffic according to policy, because it knows the priority of each application. Real-time network traffic is typically given highest-priority status on the WAN. SD-WAN tracks the performance of critical applications and can adjust the network to improve voice and video quality by reducing latency

Each SD-WAN provider has its own method for application identification and traffic prioritization. Below are some brief examples of how specific SD-WAN providers handle real-time network traffic:

  • Versa Networks features embedded voice and video codec support to provide traffic engineering for unified communications services.
  • Silver Peak reduces packet loss by regenerating packets and resequencing out-of-order packets to make real-time applications more predictable.  
  • Cradlepoint measures path performance and steers traffic based on policy to ensure real-time applications are always on the best-performing link.
  • VeloCloud handles real-time applications by proactively prioritizing traffic, while measuring link throughput, packet loss, delay and jitter.
  • Citrix SD-WAN identifies real-time network traffic and provides for packet duplication and path selection to deliver appropriate quality of service.
  • Talari provides continuous unidirectional measurement, packet replication, congestion avoidance and bandwidth reservation.
  • InfoVista recognizes real-time network traffic and ensures the necessary performance characteristics are delivered over the WAN.

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