What is SD-branch?
SD-branch is a single, automated, centrally managed software-centric platform that replaces or supplements an existing branch network architecture. Remote or branch offices are critical yet challenging elements for most centralized IT organizations.
A natural successor in the evolution of software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs), SD-branch simplifies the process of branching networks by collapsing multiple network functionalities onto a single platform. Enterprises typically deploy SD-branch in greenfield locations or as an upgrade or replacement for branch office boxes in smaller branches, such as regional offices, stores, banks or kiosks.
As branch networking becomes more focused on application delivery, IT organizations have multiple options regarding the future of branch routers. Some of those options are the following:
- Keep the traditional branch router.
- Phase out the branch router in favor of SD-WAN technology that includes routing functionality.
- Migrate to an SD-branch service that consolidates a range of network functionality into a single platform by using software.
Regardless of the implementation, all SD-branch technology relies upon the following:
- A virtualized IP services platform that provides cloud-like elasticity, service chaining and programmability.
- A broad set of virtual network functions to deliver extensive networking and security IP services.
- A centralized management framework that enables integrated control, management, analytics and workflow.
SD-branch offers advantages in terms of rapid deployment -- such as branch-in-a-box -- lower hardware costs and operational expenditure benefits. Other benefits of SD-branch technology include the following:
- Improved operational agility.
- Reduced need for skilled support and maintenance professionals on site.
- Centralized control of a branch office's network architecture through a single pane of glass.
- Smaller hardware footprint.
- Lower power consumption.
The future of SD-branch
Organizations could phase out their existing branch routers in favor of SD-WAN packages, and customers will have the option to buy SD-branch services. These services can support broader network features, including SD-WAN, routing, security and Wi-Fi. For organizations that choose managed SD-WAN from a service provider, options will be defined by the service provider.
Vendors with SD-branch products and services include the following:
- HPE Aruba.
- Juniper Networks.
- Silver Peak.
- Versa Networks.
Editor's note: This article was republished in March 2023 to improve the reader experience.