Exceptional User Experience with Prisma SD-WAN’s App-Defined Fabric

Jul 12, 2023
4 minutes

This blog is part of the “Branch of the Future” series where we take a closer look at the four key tenets that next-generation SD-WAN and SASE provide to deliver a branch network that is digital-first, secure and powered by the latest AI/ML innovations.

Digital transformation has accelerated dramatically in the last few years with 95% of organizations stating that they are already using public cloud services, and will continue to increase the number of business applications that reside in the public cloud over the next 36 months. Additionally, the use of modern collaboration and video-conferencing apps has increased during the pandemic, with the number of video-conferencing devices expected to grow six times by 2025.

As organizations adapt to these cloud-first and hyper-digital ways of working, ensuring high-quality performance and great user experience with modern applications has become critical criteria for selecting the right networking solution.

Legacy Networking Solutions Fail to Deliver Direct-to-App Access

Traditional router-based architectures are rigid and complex and force backhauling the user-to-application traffic to the data center. This creates higher latency and round trip delays, resulting in poor user experience. Software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN) was introduced to solve this problem. While it delivered direct-to-app access, it failed significantly in providing a seamless user experience and great performance for today's apps. The legacy SD-WAN solutions are unable to provide application service level agreements (SLAs) that are crucial to delivering core functionalities like intelligent traffic forwarding, failover and load balancing.

Delivering Exceptional User Experience Starts with Deep Application Awareness

In order to deliver exceptional user experience for apps like software as a service (SaaS), Unified communication as a service (UCaaS), and other business-critical applications, an SD-WAN solution must provide key capabilities including:

  • Accurate identification of applications and sub-applications to categorize, prioritize and forward traffic based on application-defined business policies.
  • Measure application SLAs by leveraging application traffic in real-time such as the number of transaction failures and application server response, in addition to network SLAs like jitter, packet loss and latency.
  • Deliver these application SLAs for both bookended and open-ended network architectures.

Most importantly, the ideal SD-WAN solution must use these capabilities to ensure the best performance and user experience. Understand why app-defined SD-WAN is important to deliver improved performance for today's applications.

A Next-Gen SD-WAN Makes All the Difference

Palo Alto Networks Prisma SD-WAN provides an app-defined fabric that understands applications from Layer 3 to Layer 7. This application-aware architecture, unlike legacy solutions that are packet-based and rely on Layer 3 information, empowers customers to build the branch of the future by providing:

  • A direct-to-app architecture to all applications like SaaS, cloud, internet, and private apps to ensure improved application performance. This is unlike the Gen-1 SD-WAN solutions that only provide traffic engineering for data center or private applications.
  • Intelligent Traffic Engineering with application identification and classification taking place at deep app protocol Layer 7 level. It allows Prisma SD-WAN to provide intelligent traffic engineering, prioritization, and load balancing, resulting in improved application availability.
  • Application SLAs like translation failures, server response time, codes, MOS score, transaction times and number of application flows as decision markers for business policies (see Figure 1). 

Figure 1:  Application-aware architecture provides both application SLA and network SLA workflows.

  • Single-sided and dual-sided architecture by measuring both application and network SLAs to these apps (see Figure 2).

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Figure 2: Prisma SD-WAN Bandwidth Utilization dashboard easily visualizes which applications are using the most bandwidth.

Organizations can now deliver exceptional user experience for all their applications with Prisma SD-WAN’s app-defined architecture. We’ve partnered with SDxCentral to showcase how Prisma SASE with Prisma SD-WAN delivers a next-generation SD-WAN solution to truly transform the branch, secure your network holistically, and automate complex IT operations for an exceptional user experience. Watch the on-demand exclusive virtual event to learn more.


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