SD-Branch – An Overview

The traditional branch network is undergoing significant change with a host of pressing challenges forging this transformation. Large-scale adoption of cloud services has changed network traffic flows. The exponential increase of mobile and IoT devices is putting increased strain on the branch. Cloud-native applications require higher levels of bandwidth, and the modern user expects connectivity whenever, and wherever they see fit, for work and personal use.

While the goalposts have moved, IT teams responsible for running these networks however are still the same size, with the same resources. We expect, well, the market more-so dictates that new network implementations are completed promptly with little disruption to day-to-day operations. It’s a challenge we see on a day-to-day basis at CSA, organisations needing to do more with less. It’s why the traditional branch network is disappearing in favour of one that is software-defined. Delivering secure connectivity, enterprise-level performance and simplicity of management and scalability across disparate WAN links and technologies.[1]

At CSA, we work closely with Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) Company to deliver SD-Branch solutions to our customers.

What is Aruba SD-Branch?

Aruba Software-Defined Branch (SD-Branch) is cloud managed branch network architecture that helps organisations unify networks and services that were traditionally housed, managed and designed for their own operational silos. Comprised within SD-Branch you have SD-WAN, LAN and WLAN alongside automated security policy enforcement and user experience monitoring.

Think of it as a transformational concept that provides optimised connectivity to Hybrid Cloud including the internet, Software as a Service (SaaS) applications, Public Cloud, and traditional datacentre hosted applications. All leveraged in conjunction with a simplified branch network configuration for ease of use.

What it is, and isn’t.

  • It is NOT a collection of separate devices that do not integrate with one another. There is no element of separated management. It is not CLI driven, and it is not complex.
  • It IS an entire architecture rather than an individual product.
  • It IS a strong enabler for cost optimisation across areas such as carriage, operational and support costs.

Why should I consider SD-Branch instead of opting for a collection of individual components such as SD-WAN?

The SD-Branch extends the software-defined aspect to each element of your branch [2], resulting in a full stack solution that delivers a number of key features including:

  • Simplified management SD-Branch leverages a single management console to perform a multitude of functions.
  • Dynamic segmentation Instead of operating in silos, multiple elements of the architecture work together to enforce security policies and optimisation.
  • Streamlined delivery – Supports the automation of branch network deployment with zero-touch provisioning and security enforcement.
  • End-user insight – Leverage user experience monitoring to understand network performance from the perspective of an end-user. Monitors and provides assurance across all elements of the SD-Branch including LAN, WLAN, and SD-WAN.
  • Security at the network edge – Typically Branch sites have no local IT presence, and they lack the control to prevent unauthorised access from something as simple as patching into the corporate switch. SD-Branch has the security layers at the edge to proactively prevent this.

Aruba SD-Branch is a comprehensive architecture vision that can serve as a platform for future capabilities and additional services. Contact us to book a free discovery and design session with one of our expert network and security architects. They will walk you through your current state and roadmap a best-practice design.

For further reading, click here to read the second blog in this series and learn more about CSA and the importance of network design.

Ask about booking a free Discovery and Roadmap Session

About the Authors

Leon Slattery is Head of Network and Security at CSA. Leon’s security domain knowledge has been acquired over 12 years of experience in the IT services industry focusing on development and delivery of innovative network and security solutions for customers. Leon has applied his skills for clients within Utilities, Finance, Health and Higher Education industries giving him insight into the unique challenges faced in securing information in these environments.

Leon Slattery

Head of Network and Security, CSA

Marti is a networking specialist with 15+ years’ experience working closely with customers to translate business challenges and opportunities into technical solutions. Having a passion to expand his customers’ mindsets beyond the technology itself, Marti instead focusses on the strategic outcomes that secure network solutions can deliver. Marti has helped clients engage a mobile first approach giving travellers, sports fans and conventioneers memorable in-venue experiences, school students an exciting learning environment and office staff an end user-experience that motivates them to achieve their goals.

Marti Barber

Networking Specialist, CSA

[1][2] Aruba SD-Branch Overview, Business White Paper, © Copyright 2018, Hewlett Packard Enterprise Development LP.