+44 207 131 24 84

The power of SD WAN and 5G

Published: January 15, 2020

Over the past few decades, a handful of new technologies have revolutionized the way business is done. The introduction of the PC, the internet, and mobile communications have all brought with them new ways to collaborate, new tools for collecting and leveraging data, completely   new customer expectations with respect to things like omnichannel marketing and loyalty programs, and in some cases, the creation of previously unimagined business and industry categories. 

5G has the potential to have this same kind of wide-ranging, transformative impact on society. With 5G, businesses will be able to experience lightning fast speeds, lower latency, and significantly increased data volumes than what is possible today. From the Internet of Things (IoT) to virtual reality to industrial automation, the business world of 5G will be deeply connected to near-real time data and the intelligence that it brings—creating a world that is almost as unrecognizable as a pre-PC business would be in today’s world.   

As the world begins to enter the 5G era, it is important to note that Verizon’s 5G Network is designed with an enhanced and comprehensive security model in mind. It specifically focuses on shoring up security mechanisms related to:

  • Network access: Tasked with managing how subscribers use devices to access network services as well as protecting against attacks targeting the radio connection between the user equipment (UE) and the Evolved Node B (eNB)/next generation 5G Node B (gNB). Examples of enhanced network access security mechanisms include a flexible authentication framework facilitating the use of different types of credentials beyond SIM cards, and more robust identity management. 

  • Network domain: Managing the secure exchange of control plane and user plane data between Radio Access Network (RAN) elements and the packet core. An example of network domain security mechanism is the support for protocol level protection for new 5G core network functions service based interfaces.

We’ve established in our earlier article on SD WAN vs MPLS that SD WAN is an overlay that’s defined by software that sits on top of both MPLS and internet connections.  SD WAN will play a critical role in a business’s digital transformation efforts to prepare for (and eventually fully leverage) the transformative nature of 5G technology. That’s because SD WAN provides enterprises with greater efficiency, agility, and flexibility by intelligently routing data over a variety of connection types.

Verizon’s Virtual Network Services and SD WAN solutions are designed with this next-generation network in mind, allowing your business to leverage the benefits of 5G across your network in a secure environment.  SD WAN solutions will give businesses powerful tools to make it easier to manage your network and traffic, monitor application performance and deploy security updates quickly, easily and securely. Here’s what you can expect from the power of SD WAN and 5G working as one: 

Greater security for mobile workers and IoT devices

In this day and age, network security is a key concern for every enterprise. 5G will make it possible for businesses to connect a massive number of devices, including the ever-expanding universe of IoT devices. This exponential increase in network size and device profiles results in a wider potential attack surface. But because SD WAN encrypts and tunnels data by default, it provides an additional layer of security necessary to keep data protected at all times. SD WAN also makes it simple to consistently deploy updates, enforce policies, and track network performance, helping your cybersecurity experts monitor and react to incidents in real-time.

Another important dimension of the Verizon 5G network is its ability to slice (or parse) individual data streams into unique data slices, creating an additional layer of protection for mission critical efforts. Each slice has the ability to maintain its own unique security requirements and can then be appropriately prioritized and routed most efficiently by the SD WAN network. Remember, SD WAN provides a secure encrypted overlay that is independent of transport, providing end-to-end security

One example of how this might look in practice: a manufacturer may slice its network up between different sections of its factory floor and its office functions like marketing, sales, finance, and IT. It may then further use SD WAN to ensure the traffic from its real-time IoT sensors are connected to the 5G network and are dynamically prioritized, while less critical email traffic gets routed through the public internet. 

Greater efficiency for the cloud

Unlike just a few years ago, data is no longer only being sent back and forth between a central data center and branch offices. Cloud platforms and Software as a Service applications mean that more data is being sent between the edge and the cloud. As workloads at the edge of the network continue to increase, it no longer makes sense for data to always backhaul to a data center. Together, 5G and SD WAN will make it easier, safer, and more reliable for branches to be able to connect directly to the cloud. 

SD WAN not only makes it easier for branches to use the cloud to expand their processing capabilities but also adapt to continually evolving customer demand, without requiring a network administrator to go on-site to deploy new equipment or make changes. For example, a retail coffee shop chain can use the 5G network to connect directly to the company’s cloud-based enterprise resource planning software or payment processors, rather than sending all that information back to the corporate office. Meanwhile, its SD WAN will make sure that customers working on their laptops get their data sent through the public network, keeping the corporate network free from bottlenecks. 

Smarter edge management

While Verizon’s 4G LTE network has reached speeds of 1.45 gigabits per second, 5G speeds have the potential to be exponentially faster. In fact, 5G networks are expected to one day offer peak data rates of up to 10 Gbps. With this massive increase in speed, already-transformational technologies like autonomous applications, augmented reality and next generation tools like artificial intelligence, machine learning will become even further ingrained into the way we live and work. 

As compute resources get pushed closer to the user and further away from the data center, SD WAN will be vital for providing reliable, flexible, and agile connectivity. Since 5G networks will be powered by dense networks of small cells, SD WAN will be necessary to optimize these networks so that data can automatically make its way to its destination using the most efficient path.

SD WAN is the key to 5G

With new technology comes higher expectations. As enterprises prepare to leverage the benefits of 5G, end users and company leaders alike will demand and expect always-on, high-performing connectivity. SD WAN will play a key role in a company’s digital transformation to provide the automation and secure intelligence necessary to connect to its data centers, its clouds, and its many different edges. By using software to dynamically manage routing, SD WAN will be able to help your enterprise make the most out of 5G while utilizing other transports like the public internet for non-critical applications. 

While 5G is still around the corner for many customers, SD WAN is a technology that can be implemented today. By implementing SD WAN now, your enterprise will be better prepared to incorporate 5G into its network portfolio and make the most of its revolutionary potential.

Learn more about Verizon’s Virtual Network Services – SD WAN.