R & D project

Expanding Janet's reach: Jisc's managed SD-WAN revolutionises UK education access

SD-WAN will build upon and extend our existing Janet infrastructure by providing more flexible, yet secure, access to the network via any internet bearer.

Students sitting at a library desk with laptops.


Expected outcome:

New service

What is SD-WAN?

SD-WAN, or software defined wide area network, is a technology that simplifies the management and operation of a wide area network (WAN) by abstracting network control from the underlying hardware, allowing for centralised management and dynamic traffic routing. The key benefits of SD-WAN technology include, but are not limited to:

  • Support of multiple connection types, including fibre, 4G/5G, and others
  • Intelligent routing enabling performance optimisation, application traffic prioritisation, and more
  • Security integration includes features such as web content filtering, AV and malware detection, etc.
  • Zero touch provisioning, streamlines deployment of new sites and devices

Our managed SD-WAN access offering

Where Janet traditionally has been delivered over private fibre line, SD-WAN technology has enabled us to develop a new, flexible way to provide members and customers access to the Janet network.

At the edge of Janet, Jisc has a Fortinet hyperscale firewall (FortiGate 7081-F2) as a headend. This is the gateway through which members and customers can have secure access to the Janet network and all of its direct peering’s via an appropriately-sized FortiGate at the customer site tunnelling traffic to the Jisc headend. The solution is underlay-agnostic and has been delivered as a pilot on fibre, broadband and 4G/5G, demonstrating the flexibility at which the virtual Janet access can be deployed.

The use cases we've identified where the managed SD-WAN access service can help include, but are not limited to:

  • Deployment to sites with little to no network expertise
  • Web content filtering enabled for schools or other sites that require it
  • Increased speed and flexibility of Janet delivery to new or temporary sites
  • Lowering costs by using internet-based connectivity (as opposed to MPLS, as an example)

During the proof of concept stage, we were able to provide connectivity with web filtering to a school affected by RAAC.

Beta phase

Jisc managed SD-WAN access is currently in the beta phase. We have partnered with BT as a service partner for support and deployment in order to allow the solution to scale beyond our personnel capacity. When the beta product is launched for sales (date TBC), members and customers will be able to order a FortiGate to a site, which will be configured with access to the Janet network. The FortiGate will be sized appropriately to the bandwidth and usage requirements of the site, configured with or without web filtering, and this can be bundled with a BT fibre or broadband order.

Active launch and future iterations

In the lead-up to the active product launch, we will be working towards enabling other SD-WAN features, such as virtual intersite connectivity, intelligent path selection and load balancing, among others.

As the technology continues to evolve, Jisc intends to evolve with it. We are exploring options around combining SD-WAN with next-generation capabilities such as Secure Access Service Edge (SASE).

Get involved

Get in touch at help@jisc.ac.uk or contact your relationship manager for more information.

Our project partners

  • BT logo
  • Fortinet logo

Meet the project team

  • Jen Parry

    Innovation consultant, Jisc
  • Richard Jackson

    Lead cloud security specialist, Jisc
  • Michael McFarlane

    Deputy director - network operations, Jisc
  • Chris Murray

    Senior infrastructure architect, Jisc