Enterprises are deploying software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) in an effort to increase network performance and reduce costs. While there are technology fads that come and go, SD-WAN appears to be delivering benefits beyond the original expectations for reducing the need for costly multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) pathways.
While reducing costs was the original focus of a shift to SD-WAN, enterprises are finding new ways to improve performance of their networks using higher-bandwidth broadband connections and using business policy to direct network traffic. As SD-WAN solutions become more advanced, enterprises are simplifying operations in environments where hybrid, private cloud, and public cloud solutions are accessed.
SD-WAN has been around for the last decade, but there are three key factors pushing the current increased replacement of WANs:
Digital Transformation: Migrating to the cloud for data storage, improving productivity with the Internet of Things (IoT), outsourcing security to managed services and launching a bring your own device (BYOD) program are some of the digital transformation measures that enterprises are taking, and SD-WAN makes managing a more complex network easier.
Rather than just a traffic hub, the network is becoming a strategic tool for improving business practices and creating a superior customer experience. The agility to quickly implement a new strategy and potentially beat a competitor to a new customer feature makes SD-WAN attractive.
Public Cloud: Rather than the traditional hub-and-spoke network infrastructure of MPLS, SD-WAN equips enterprises for connection directly to the public cloud. Branch locations can be provisioned from headquarters, and it takes only a few moments to get a new location up and running. With WANs and MPLS, bringing a new branch location online could take days or weeks.
With SD-WAN, network administrators connect branch locations with broadband Internet links, which are overlaid with encrypted and secure tunnels, making it possible to securely send traffic directly to the public cloud.
Network Performance: SD-WAN gives enterprises opportunities to integrate disparate network tools and reduce fragmentation. Centralized visibility and troubleshooting with SD-WAN increases operational efficiency and eliminates the need to send network engineers out to branch locations when there’s a problem. Operations also receives comprehensive, up-to-date information detailing network traffic that is filtered by host, location, user or application. It’s also possible to eliminate separate security appliances by taking advantage of consolidated security strategies that use built-in firewalls and the ability to segment out traffic for isolation in case of a security breach.
SD-WAN is not just a technology fad; it’s becoming foundational for digital technology in the enterprise. It’s not a matter of whether SD-WAN can replace WANs, but how quickly it will happen.
For more information about the specific benefits SD-WAN delivers, contact us at AMD Communications. We look forward to discussing how SD-WAN can help not only reduce costs, but improve network performance and support digital transformation.