2023/09/10 IT & Cyber-Security Solutions 182 visit(s) 8 min to read
In a significant development, the Cisco SD-WAN solution is officially rebranded as Cisco Catalyst SD-WAN. This transformation represents a major step towards simplification and consistency in networking solutions.
Additionally, starting from Cisco IOS XE SD-WAN Release 17.12.1a and Cisco Catalyst SD-WAN Release 20.12.1, Cisco is introducing important component changes:
* Cisco vManage becomes "Cisco Catalyst SD-WAN Manager.
* Cisco vAnalytics becomes "Cisco Catalyst SD-WAN Analytics.
* Cisco vBond becomes "Cisco Catalyst SD-WAN Validator.
* Cisco vSmart becomes "Cisco Catalyst SD-WAN Controller.
These changes are designed to enhance your network management experience, providing a seamless and unified approach to networking.
For a comprehensive list of all component brand name changes, refer to Cisco's latest Release Notes.
Traditional networking technology has grown progressively expensive and intricate, proving inadequate to meet the demands of contemporary multisite enterprises. Enter the Cisco Catalyst SD-WAN Solution, a software-based, streamlined solution built upon the bedrock of time-tested networking components. It not only curtails the operational costs of enterprise networks but also furnishes uncomplicated tools for simplifying the provisioning and management of intricate networks sprawled across various locations and geographies. Embedded within the Cisco Catalyst SD-WAN Solution are inherent authentication and security mechanisms that safeguard the network and the confidentiality of its data traffic.
The Cisco Catalyst SD-WAN Solution signifies a transformation in networking, transitioning from an aging hardware-centric model to a secure, software-based, virtual IP framework. This Cisco Catalyst SD-WAN fabric, often referred to as an overlay network, establishes a software overlay atop standard network transport services, including public Internet, MPLS, and broadband. Furthermore, this overlay network supports advanced software services, hastening the transition to cloud-based networking.
Challenges in Conventional Network Design The conventional approach to network design grapples with incompatibility with contemporary requirements for four key reasons:
The cost and complexity issues intensify for legacy networks when faced with contemporary demands such as stringent end-to-end security, disparate transport networks, high-bandwidth cloud applications hosted across multiple data centers, a growing number of mobile end users, any-to-any connectivity over dynamic topologies, and unique business-specific requirements.
The Cisco Catalyst SD-WAN Solution represents a Software-Defined WAN (SD-WAN), underpinned by the same routing principles that facilitated the Internet's scalability in the 1990s and 2000s. What sets apart Cisco Catalyst SD-WAN from other SD-WAN solutions is its reimagination of the WAN for the new era of enterprise networks. It decouples the data plane from the control plane and virtualizes much of the routing that formerly necessitated dedicated hardware.
The virtualized network operates as an overlay atop cost-effective hardware, whether physical routers or virtual devices. Centralized controllers, referred to as Cisco SD-WAN Validators, efficiently manage provisioning, maintenance, and security across the entire Cisco Catalyst SD-WAN overlay network's control plane. Additionally, the Cisco SD-WAN Validator automatically authenticates all other Cisco vEdge devices upon their integration into the Cisco Catalyst SD-WAN overlay network.
This allocation of tasks enables each networking layer to concentrate on its specialized functions. The control plane takes charge of managing traffic routing rules within the overlay network, while the data plane handles the actual transmission of data packets among network devices. Together, the control plane and data plane create a flexible and robust framework that you can customize according to your requirements and timeline, all while utilizing existing circuits.
Cisco SD-WAN Manager offers a user-friendly yet potent set of visual dashboards to monitor network performance across all devices within the overlay network, all from a centralized monitoring hub. Additionally, Cisco SD-WAN Manager facilitates centralized tasks like software installation, upgrades, and provisioning, whether it's for a single device or a simultaneous operation involving multiple devices.
Cisco Catalyst SD-WAN is exceptionally well-suited to the demands of cloud-based networking. Its virtual IP fabric supports software services that streamline and enhance cloud networking, enabling you to fully harness the capabilities of the overlay network for individual cloud applications.
The complexity inherent in traditional enterprise networks arises from three primary sources:
Cisco Catalyst SD-WAN employs established networking components in innovative ways to construct a secure virtual IP fabric. These networking elements encompass:
With five straightforward steps, the Cisco Catalyst SD-WAN virtual IP fabric simplifies the transformation of a complex legacy network into an easily manageable and scalable network:
Step 1: Segregate Transport from the Service Side of the Network.
Step 2: Centralize Routing Intelligence and Enable Segmentation.
Step 3: Automatically Enhance Network Security.
Step 4: Influence Reachability Through Centralized Policy.
Step 5: Streamline Orchestration and Provisioning.
Step 1: Separate Transport from the Service Side of the Network:
The transport network's primary role is to carry packets from one transport router to another. It only requires knowledge of the routes necessary to reach the next-hop or destination router. It does not need information about the prefixes for non-transport routers, which are the routers situated behind the transport routers in their local service networks.
By segregating network transport from the service side, network administrators gain the ability to influence router-to-router communication independently of user or host communication.
This approach offers several advantages:
Step 2: Centralize Routing Intelligence and Enable Segmentation
In a network, every router positioned at the network's perimeter serves two routing purposes: one towards the transport network and one towards the service side of the network. To enable seamless communication between all routers, it's imperative for each router to acquire knowledge of all network prefixes. Traditionally, routers achieve this by utilizing full-mesh Interior Gateway Protocol (IGP) or Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) configurations, or by enabling routing within an overlay tunnel (e.g., running BGP or IGP over MPLS or GRE). Several techniques are available to address scalability challenges linked to full-mesh routing adjacencies, including the utilization of a route reflector for BGP.
The Cisco Catalyst SD-WAN fabric expands upon the route reflector model by consolidating routing intelligence. In essence, all the network prefixes acquired from the service side on a router are shared with a centralized controller, which then disseminates this information to other routers through the network's control plane. These controllers are exclusively involved in control plane communication and don't handle any data traffic.
This approach offers several advantages:
Step 3: Automatically Enhance Network Security and Links
The Cisco Catalyst SD-WAN fabric identifies links on the transport side and automatically applies encryption to the traffic exchanged between various sites. The encryption keys associated with these links are securely exchanged through a session with the centralized controller. The establishment of secure sessions with the controller is an automated process utilizing RSA and certificate infrastructure.
This approach yields several advantages:
Step 4: Shape Connectivity via Centralized Policy
Policies configured on a centralized controller exert a significant influence on how prefixes are propagated among the routers. For instance, if it's necessary for all traffic between routers P3 and P4 (as illustrated) to be routed through router vEdge-1, the network administrator can implement a straightforward route policy on the centralized controller. The controller subsequently conveys this policy to the relevant edge routers, obviating the need for manual provisioning of the policy on each individual router.
Step 5: Streamline Provisioning and Management
Traditional network devices require manual provisioning and monitoring through a Command Line Interface (CLI). Network administrators are tasked with inputting configurations line by line and issuing operational commands individually on each device to access and review status information. This manual approach is susceptible to errors, time-consuming during network provisioning and troubleshooting, and poses significant challenges when devices are located remotely or when management ports are not easily accessible.
The advantages of this approach are manifold:
Cisco Catalyst SD-WAN introduces a centralized and remarkably simplified provisioning and management system through Cisco SD-WAN Manager. This intuitive, graphical dashboard empowers administrators to monitor, configure, and maintain all Cisco vEdge devices and links within the overlay network from a single, user-friendly interface. For instance, the GUI dashboard offers templates for various configurations, streamlining the provisioning of services. This means that common elements, such as Authentication, Authorization, and Accounting (AAA) settings and company-specific server configurations, can be effortlessly deployed to multiple devices with a single click, all from one centralized location.
This approach presents several compelling benefits:
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