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Traditional networking approaches weren't designed to handle today's fast-evolving IT requirements. Not only must modern enterprises be prepared to adopt emerging technologies and new IoT solutions, but they must also be nimble enough respond to the rise of mobile workforces and the proliferation of end-user devices.

Software-defined access (SD-Access) has emerged as a go-to solution for enterprises striving to meet today's networking challenges while modernizing the IT infrastructure needed to keep pace with the speed of digital transformation.

What is SD-Access?

SD-Access is a network security solution that enables organizations to automate the configuration of campus and branch networks. Through a zero-trust security framework, SD-Access safeguards access across users, devices and locations wherever applications are used in your network environment.

With SD-Access, companies can orchestrate and automate business functions such as deployment, user-access provisioning, network segmentation, IoT integration, guest access and more — all accomplished across wired or wireless networks via a single fabric. Network access can be granted to any user, device or application in minutes without impacting the security of your system.

How SD-Access solves network security and management challenges

It can be costlier, more time consuming and riskier to continue relying on manual processes and fragmented tools to manage IT networks in today's fast-paced business environment. Here's how SD-Access solutions can help network administrators solve some of their most common challenges:

  • Network deployment: With SD-Access, administrators can quickly deploy complex campus architectures — complete with segmentation, security and performance monitoring — in a templated and automated way. Users will no longer have to wait days or weeks to start using these secure networks.
  • Network security: Unlike traditional networks, SD-Access almost completely removes the challenges of tracking VLANs, access control lists (ACLs) and IP-addressing schemes.
  • Consolidation of network assets: Traditionally, disparate networks often lead to the duplication of hardware procurement and/or inconsistent management practices. SD-Access solves this by consolidating your network assets.
  • Network operations: With SD-Access, IT teams have access to rich network performance and user experience data, click-to-deploy automation, and an abstracted-element management system that focuses on intent and outcome rather than detailed CLI configuration challenges.

The benefits of SD-Access

SD-Access can help modern organizations keep their networks secure and compliant while supporting rapid digital transformation. Benefits include:

  • End-to-end segmentation separates traffic from users, devices and applications to streamline regulatory compliance. User access policy automation improves the employee experience by applying appropriate policies for any user, device or application across the network.
  • A single-network fabric facilities consistent user experiences anywhere, at any time, to improve operational cost-efficiency and productivity.
  • The ability to bring IoT endpoints into the IT fold helps organizations gather business insights beyond the four walls of traditional IT networks.
  • SD-Access gives you the ability to maintain visibility, agility and flexibility while applying centralized, pre-defined business policies and controls.

SD-Access use cases

Here is just a sample of SD-Access use cases from our customer base:

  • Security: SD-Access can support the orchestrated implementation of zero-trust networking, which can integrate identity management complexities that help intercept threats from devices at the edge.
  • Mobility: It can enhance user mobility by offloading wireless data paths to network switches, enabling a seamless roaming experience across campuses.
  • Guest access: Guest access can simplify policy provisioning and reduce IT workloads.
  • IoT: IoT integration can facilitate the onboarding of IoT devices and tools while reducing network attack surfaces via segmentation.
  • Monitoring: Monitoring capabilities can help reduce troubleshooting time and offer analytics to enable more accurate, data-driven decision-making.
  • Consolidated management: The multi-site capabilities of SD-Access can support end-to-end policy management and let administrators define user-to-application access policy from a single management interface.
  • Branch integration: Branch integration can simplify the provisioning and management of distributed locations while supporting enterprise-wide provisioning and policy enforcement.

Cisco DNA Center: SD-Access for modern enterprises

Cisco's DNA Center helps organizations design networks, define policies and provision infrastructure so SD-Access can be deployed in a cost-effective manner. Its zero-trust security framework ensures secure access from any location by all users and devices.

DNA Center makes it easy to analyze traffic, define access policies with artificial intelligence and machine learning-based analytics, and implement zero-trust security with group-based access policies for multilevel segmentation. It also allows you to continuously monitor endpoint behaviors and scan for vulnerabilities. Moreover, DNA Center helps you contain threats and prevent breaches by reducing trust zones and isolating compromised endpoints.

Optimizing SD-Access implementation

Deploying SD-Access involves key steps such as setting up user groups, designing the network, defining policies and provisioning the right infrastructure. Depending on the number of users, devices and applications, some companies find a one-time implementation of SD-Access can be complex and labor-intensive.

Leveraging a partner with extensive experience in setting up SD-Access for different types of businesses can help optimize the new technology and create the robust IT infrastructure needed to support your digital transformation goals. 

Learn how WWT can help you get the most out of SD-Access.
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