What is SD-Branch?

What is SD-Branch?

First, let's briefly define “branch network” and then explain what SD (software-defined) means to understand what an SD-Branch (software-defined branch) comprises and is capable of:

  • A branch is a satellite office, store, or location that conducts business away from the main office. In IT  terms, it’s an offshoot from the main network and supports a smaller remote location. Branch offices provide a subset of services (or specialized services) but often rely on the parent organization's headquarters, private data centers, and public clouds for their application access or other centralized functions. 
  • SD (software-defined) means a more malleable, real-time, and responsive set of services that can be programmed (often via APIs) that facilitate dynamic orchestration, usually from a centralized platform.
  • An SD-Branch is an architecture and abstraction of the functions of branch IT services that include WAN, LAN, and network security. It provides simpler, more cost-effective, and secure operations while enabling rapid deployments. Branch networking, IT services, and a cloud WAN become unified with a programmable interface. 


What Problems Does SD-Branch Solve?

SD-Branch solves a wide variety of problems, including:

  • Sluggish site deployments
  • Poor user experiences and lost productivity
  • Inability to scale rapidly 
  • Ineffective WAN cost controls
  • Missing end-to-end visibility/policy
  • Weak and inconsistent security posture
  • Crippling complexity, disparate technologies, and branch sprawl
  • Missing onsite support or slow smart-hands services


How Does SD-Branch Work, and What Are the Components of SD-Branch?

SD-Branch encompasses multiple complimentary software-defined components:

  • SD-WAN (software-defined wide area network), which manages and secures branch and headend gateways
  • SD-LAN (software-defined local area network) for managing and securing a site's wired and wireless access and associated services
  • Unified controller platform (preferably cloud-based)
What is SD-Branch Diagram 1

SD-Branch provides unified management, better visibility, and streamlined operations for wireless, wired, SD-WAN and security. 

These building blocks provide the connectivity, security, and local services required for branch IT operations. Integrating the software-defined WAN and LAN gives administrators increased global network control irrespective of where resources and services are located (public cloud, private data center, or headquarters). Policies for specific application traffic and users can now be administered and delivered in near real-time via a central management console. This dramatically improves the operator experience to streamline operations.

In many cases, traffic destined for the internet, corporate data center, or any other location is subject to firewalling treatment in order to meet branch security requirements for employees, guests, and IoT-related devices. 

Note: To learn more about SD-WAN defined or SD-WAN security, check out our “What is SD-WAN” and “SD-WAN Explained” pages to get the best SD-WAN explanation and understand more deeply how multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) WAN and concepts like SD-WAN as a Service apply. You’ll also see how SD-WAN has further evolved with AIOps (artificial intelligence for IT operations), best-of-breed security, session-based routing, and tunnel-free performance at scale


The Juniper AI-Driven SD-Branch Solution

Juniper SD-Branch simplifies branch office communications with AI-driven, software-defined routing, switchingWi-Fi, and security delivered from the Juniper Mist cloud. Tunnel-free Session Smart™ Routing accelerates application performance for faster response times, while Mist AI™ automates operations and speeds troubleshooting. With visibility into the real-time service levels of individual users, network administrators can continuously fine-tune the network and optimize user experiences.

What is SD-Branch Diagram 2

Juniper SD-Branch simplifies deployments and operations with unified management and AI-driven insights. 

SD-Branch FAQs

What benefits does SD-branch present for branch offices?

SD-Branch enables rapid deployments, lower TCO (total cost of ownership), and improved user experiences due to its real-time adaptability and programmability. Complexity is reduced, security is heightened, and operations are simplified. Barriers to automation and AIOps are lowered, and operator experience is enhanced. 

What is secure SD-Branch?

A secure SD-Branch minimizes IT risks by taking a holistic view of user and agent sessions, including what resources they can access. Defensive, yet productive, policies can be applied consistently throughout branches, and threats can be identified and mitigated more rapidly with end-to-end programmatic responses from intelligent controllers. 

Why an SD-Branch?

SD-Branch solves many challenges of traditional branch IT footprints and their complex deployments. By reducing overheads across the whole IT footprint and lifecycle, operator experiences and user experiences are dramatically improved. Service assurance across wired, wireless, and cloud access becomes possible while decreasing TCO.

As a part of a unified fabric, SD-Branch enables flexibility and scalability that also accelerates remote deployments. By reducing operational complexity, SD-branches become more responsive and resilient, leading to happier, more productive teams.

Everything from automated workflows to AIOps eliminates traditional pain points and ongoing friction in running branch IT support and services. SD-Branch is particularly well suited for remote sites where timely smart hands or onsite assistance is limited or unavailable.

Additionally, security is enhanced across the board with a unified platform for policy management; and because the firewall is located onsite, policy is applied at the branch location, ensuring maximum efficiency. 

What are the goals of an SD-Branch?

The goals of an SD-Branch include:

  • Rapid branch deployments
  • Reduced TCO  by lowering both OPEX (operational expenditure) and CAPEX (capital expenditure)
  • Improved user experiences (and operator experiences!)
  • Minimizing and mitigating security risks
  • Reduced outages, issues, and ticket-generating support engagements
  • Shrinking reliance on branch support, smart hands support, Lv2/Lv3 support, or contractors
  • Diminished complexity
  • Simplified and secure access to multicloud services
  • Reduced hardware footprints with lower power consumption
  • Smarter operations and security
  • Automated workflows and programmability with unified APIs

By unifying SD-WAN connectivity and SD-LAN access and services, an intelligent fabric with synchronized and modular services can be built and operated. This fabric can optimize application performance and enhance security throughout a whole network of branches. Complexity and support overheads are minimized to deliver superior operator and user experiences across all enabled SD-Branch sites.

This unified logical entity increases the amount of repeatable and scalable operations IT administrators can rely on in order to build across tens, hundreds, or thousands of sites. Improved operations and efficiencies lead to lower TCO, all the while reducing project and security risk with accelerated provisioning and improved reliability.

With less brittle and more elastic services, sites can be easily baselined and then right sized or reshaped when required. A much wider set of functionality becomes possible with centralized programmability, which also clears the way for automation by human operators or AIOps

Who uses SD-Branch?

Everyone from enterprises to education, healthcare to retail, industrial, and beyond can use and benefit from SD-Branch. SD-Branch benefits most branch scenarios irrespective of an organization’s scale or growth. However, it becomes even more of a force multiplier when dealing with many sites where scale had previously been a burden for operations and deployment teams. 

What SD-Branch solutions does Juniper offer?

The latest SD-Branch solutions are designed to improve user experiences for end users and IT professionals. Juniper SD-Branch consolidates management for wired, wireless, WAN, and security under the Mist Cloud for faster deployments, more efficient operations, and improved visibility. Mist AI provides actionable insights into network health and root-cause analysis of network issues, reducing troubleshooting and ensuring great end-user experiences. Furthermore, Juniper SD-Branch enhances network security with zero trust network access, intrusion detection prevention (IDP), and URL filtering.