SD-WAN and why you need it

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SD-WAN adoption has dramatically surged across enterprise networks due to the increasing need for more flexible, responsive, and available networks.

Companies with branch offices or remote employees have the responsibility to assure their bandwidth intensive applications run smoothly for users outside of their Headquarters.

Issues arise in enterprise networking because the internet was historically architected as a best-effort amalgam of networks. This old way of networking isn’t reliable enough to handle today’s bandwidth intensive business applications.

For example, without SD-WAN, companies’ networks are architected to backhaul traffic from the branch to headquarters to the internet and then back again…

That doesn’t seem make sense, right?

This architecture leaves companies without the ability to run their applications smoothly outside of their main location.

This is where SD-WAN comes in to fix poor user experience and improve productivity while cutting costs along the way.

If your company has switched to the cloud or if your business is in more than one branch or location, then you’re a prime candidate to consider SD-WAN and you should carefully consider the below points:

SD-WAN and why you need it

What SD-WAN is

Software-defined wide-area network (SD-WAN) is an application of software-defined networking (SDN) technology applied to a wide area network (WAN) of connections.

SD-WAN is used to connect enterprise networks with branch offices or data centers over geographical distances.

SD-WAN and SDN can be thought of as related. They’re both software-defined, but SDN is meant for data centers at a single headquarters location, whereas SD-WAN takes similar software-defined concepts and then shifts the control plane from the data plane to the WAN.

SDN-WAN is also a term used to describe how network operators can leverage SDN to deliver services more efficiently across multiple technologies like MPLS, LTE, or broadband.

As Gartner Analyst, Ander Lerner once said…

“SDN is an architecture, whereas SD-WAN is a technology you can buy.”

SD-WAN also delivers a secure WAN connection because the connection is cloud-enabled.

It uses software and cloud-based technologies to simplify the delivery of WAN services to the branch office.

“The creation of the Hybrid Cloud Framework is an orchestration that makes SD-WAN of top priority”

– Open Networking User Group (ONUG).

In a sense, your organization’s demand for additional branches and cloud-based technologies now leads to a demand for software-defined security, software-defined storage, and software-defined networking (SD-WAN).

Why you’ll need SD-WAN

Technology is rapidly evolving, forcing the creation of sophisticated business applications that are much more bandwidth intensive.

Like previously mentioned, the internet used to be a best-effort blend of networks. It wasn’t secure enough to meet business needs, and it didn’t perform well enough to support bandwidth-intensive business applications.

The adoption of SD-WAN is skyrocketing because networking professionals are quickly realizing that traditional WANs were not architected for a dynamic, internet-based environment. Without SD-WAN, remote workers, branch offices and data center employees experience poor user performance and companies experience decreased productivity.

For service-oriented companies, maintaining high availability and quality of service is crucial. Slow or dropped connections will have an immediate impact on productivity and customer satisfaction.

Using MPLS to insure reliable connections? Check out this quote from Network World:

“Multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) is a way to insure reliable connections for real-time applications, but it’s expensive, leading enterprises to consider SD-WAN as a way to limit its use.”

MPLS typically offers high reliability but only at a high price, and they can’t be changed quickly to meet changing needs.

The demand for your network to handle sophisticated and bandwidth intensive applications will keep increasing as technology continues to evolve and it’s important for your business that your network is architected to keep up with the times.

When to know if SD-WAN is right for you

Aside from the significant benefits SD-WAN provides for companies and their user experience, it also results in an easier and more flexible work flow which makes it necessary in today’s highly competitive business world.

If the below questions resonate with you, then you’re ready to adopt SD-WAN:

  • Are you a business owner?
  • Do you have remote users?
  • Do you have branch offices?
  • Do you want to improve application performance?
  • Is network agility important to your business?
  • Have you migrated to the cloud?
  • Do you push voice over IP (VoIP) or video to your branches?
  • Do you use Skype for Business?
  • Have you considered leveraging broadband to reduce your bandwidth costs?
  • If you’re already considering SD-WAN then you’re not alone.

According to IDC’s latest report…

The market for SD-WAN adoption will continue to grow by 90% in the next 5 years.
The days of the traditional WAN architectures being good enough for most enterprises are long gone.

However, not all SD-WANs are created equal. It’s important to choose your provider wisely when evaluating SD-WAN deployment.

How you’ll benefit from SD-WAN

Organizations tend to have a messy and complex infrastructure in their branch offices.

Branch infrastructures often consist of routers, WAN path controllers, WAN optimizers, firewalls and more components. These complex components make it extremely expensive to buy and maintain, and difficult to manage on a day to day basis.

Traditionally, making changes to network configurations in branch offices would have called for an on-site technician to physically come in and manually configure and install changes.

SD-WAN provides total control of networking needs because adopters are immediately notified of any issues that sprout up. It gives you the capability to manage the entire WAN through a single interface.

SD-WAN also has the ability to manage multiple connections, from MLPs to LTE to broadband.

Several other benefits include…

  • Reduced costs
  • Business efficiency
  • Cloud-enabled
  • Increased application performance
  • Greater business agility and responsiveness
  • Ease of deployment
  • Stronger embedded security
  • Increased bandwidth
  • Increased productivity
  • Central manageability

Specifically, according to CA technologies:

  • 88 percent of enterprises are choosing to deploy SD-WAN due to its ability to cut costs and increase productivity.

Smaller companies also have the flexibility to buy a cheaper commercial-grade Internet connection at their smaller branch sites, and then aggregate links together to create a single link that’s much stronger than either one individually.

SD-WAN makes it about three times cheaper than regular WAN networks due to its commodity routers, resulting in a decrease in maintenance and support of routers.

Conclusion

Emerging customers of this technology are service providers and telecom operators of various sizes. Others are simple enterprises who want to cut costs, increase productivity, and be in total control of their networking needs.

Keep in mind that enterprises must alter their WAN architectures in support of their new digital business initiatives and adoption of public cloud services which will only continue to evolve with time. The only reason why SD-WAN isn’t more popular is because some network engineers have difficulty embracing sudden changes.

The SD-WAN market brims with unmatched potentials reaching billions of dollars.

If you’re interested in learning more about how SD-WAN can help you prepare your environment for the cloud, check out our eBook: Essential guide to preparing your network for the cloud

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