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How SD-WAN 5G could optimize networks for specific applications

In this roundup of networking blogs, industry experts explore SD-WAN 5G integrations, Citizens Broadband Radio Service and multi-cloud networking issues.

What happens when you take some of networking's biggest topics, or buzzwords, and slam them together? You get the perfect network, of course, delivering optimal application performance and top-notch security at branch sites.

Imagine this: You take 5G, software-defined WAN (SD-WAN), network slicing and edge computing and throw them into a big bowl. Mix them together and -- voila -- branch network perfection. OK, maybe it's not perfect, but it's worth a shot.

In a recent blog, GlobalData senior analyst Malcolm Rogers presented a persuasive case for pairing SD-WAN 5G with network slicing and edge computing. Specifically, he wrote, integrating a 5G underlay into SD-WAN creates networks capable of delivering better performance and more functionality to remote sites. Additionally, 5G network slicing and edge computing can help drive better application performance and improve security. An SD-WAN 5G integration could give remote offices active-active connections with bandwidth and latency performance comparable to MPLS.

Network slicing, a key feature in 5G, creates multiple virtual access lines over a single mobile connection, creating network environments optimized for a specific application. Another 5G feature, mobile edge computing, delivers storage, compute and network resources at the carrier network edge, which reduces data transport costs and lowers latency to sub-millisecond ranges.

The integrations of these technologies -- buoyed by partnerships among vendors, carriers and integrators -- could jumpstart industry-specific configurations of networks and applications, Rogers wrote.

"5G carriers are a natural fit to provide 5G SD-WAN services, given their access to the underlay and overlay," he said. The market is already headed in this direction, he added, as SD-WAN vendors have formed partnerships with global 5G telcos to develop WAN and edge capabilities.

For more insights on SD-WAN 5G integrations, check out Rogers' blog.

Understanding Citizens Broadband Radio Service

Wi-Fi network professionals need to start paying attention to Citizens Broadband Radio Service, or CBRS, according to wireless LAN expert Lee Badman. CBRS operates in the 3.5 GHz band from 3,550 MHz to 3,700 MHz, a prime spectrum for 5G services. It could augment Wi-Fi by boosting in-building cell coverage, thus giving a helping hand to cellular signals that need to penetrate office buildings.

In January 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) authorized full commercial use of the 3.5 GHz band, a mid-band spectrum that's key for broadband connectivity and 5G. This approval of shared spectrum is important for Wi-Fi professionals because their "turf is soon to be trampled on," Badman wrote in a recent blog. The FCC plans to hold an auction of 70 MHz of spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band on June 25, 2020.

"We need to not only understand the changing wireless landscape, but also to embrace it and try to stake our claims in it," Badman said. He went on to suggest that wireless experts take CBRS courses and training for more formalized learning.

Networking giant Cisco recently cited CBRS as a top emerging networking technology, saying the service could help create private wireless networks on factory floors.

For more insights on CBRS, read Badman's blog.

Multi-cloud networking -- a word of caution

Multi-cloud networking is a hot topic these days. With assorted cloud services available -- including AWS, Microsoft Azure and Google -- in addition to on-premises environments, multi-cloud network management has been thrust into the spotlight.

As a result, networking vendors -- such as Cisco, VMware, Juniper and others -- have peddled multi-cloud networking products that aim to provide consistent network policy across multiple cloud providers. In theory, these software products enable IT to create network configurations and security policies while also troubleshooting network issues and generating valuable analytics and reporting.

However, despite the potential upside of these products, Gartner analyst Andrew Lerner offered some words of caution in a recent blog.

"We believe it is too early to make a strategic selection or investment of the technology," he said. "Don't pick a winner, don't give a vendor a pile of cash, and don't get locked in for a long time for a large number of workloads."

Instead, he suggested, organizations should be more strategic in their multi-cloud networking approach. For example, use multi-cloud networking tools to fill in gaps or address mission-critical business functions not covered by the cloud providers' native networking capabilities. Also, opt for nimble services that don't overlap with the cloud providers' native features.

"Avoid heavy stacks whereby the network vendor's stuff is heavily slathered over the cloud provider's native capabilities," Lerner wrote. "It should be lightweight, not a bull in a china shop."

For more insights on multi-cloud networking, check out Lerner's blog.

This was last published in February 2020

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