Network professionals should think SD-Branch, not just SD-WAN

Earlier this year, fellow industry analyst Lee Doyle wrote a blog post on the software-defined branch (SD-Branch) market hitting $3 billion by 2022. Doyle defines the SD-Branch as having SD-WAN, routing, network security, and LAN/Wi-Fi functions all in one platform with integrated, centralized management. An SD-Branch can be thought of as the next step after SD-WAN, as the latter transforms the transport and the former focuses on things in the branch, such as optimizing user experience and improving security.

I don’t often critique other analysts work, as their opinion is theirs and not everyone agrees. However, in this case, I don’t think “all in one platform” should be a requirement. The integrated and centralized management hits the nail on the head, but the software should act as a management overlay, so even though the infrastructure isn’t a “single box,” it’s managed like it.

Modernizing the WAN and branch

This week, Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) company, announced its SD-Branch solution that’s aimed at modernizing the WAN and the branch for an optimized experience. The components of the solution include a newly introduced Aruba Branch Gateway, an Ethernet switch, and a Wi-Fi access point. The Aruba Central cloud management portal provides a single pane of glass to manage the wired and wireless network, enforce policies, and manages branch connectivity. The policies are still created in Aruba’s ClearPass, but the Branch Gateway acts as the translator between ClearPass and Central.

This proves my case that even though the product isn’t physically unified into a single platform, Aruba Central can push configurations down to the Branch Gateway, switch, and AP at the same time. This lets the customer upgrade APs or the switch at a later date without having to swap out the gateway.

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