Why Your Business Needs to Consider an SD-WAN Solution
With the rapid uptake of cloud services, mobile technology, social media, SaaS, big data, and IoT, the way that users are connecting to and moving data around has changed. In today’s cloud-first environments users across different offices need to connect to various cloud platforms, applications, and services, such as Office 365, Salesforce, QuickBooks, MS Azure and AWS.
The way that users are connecting to applications and data over long distances has changed and the WAN (wide area network) is no longer simply just about connecting one branch office to another via a communications network across large disparate geographic areas (e.g. across cities, states, or countries).
Companies are finding significant network performance impacts at their remote locations and branches as they deploy cloud-based Software as a Service applications, and move larger volumes of traffic and data, which is all funneled through a company’s internet bandwidth.
Legacy hardware-based networking, Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) – the prime protocol for efficient network traffic flow between two or more locations – is not keeping up with enterprise network performance and operation needs. Today’s digital enterprise needs to operate at cloud speed and network resources need to be high-performing with low latency.
The SD-WAN Solution
Software-defined wide area networking offers an alternative way to build and manage long distance networks. Many businesses are configuring, implementing, and managing enterprise network connectivity using software-defined networking principles to effectively route traffic to remote locations such as branch offices and data centers. SD-WAN moves away from the traditionally expensive and complex WAN infrastructure, that is difficult to manage and maintain by removing the burden of traffic management from physical devices.
Because of the many benefits it provides, SD-WAN is growing in popularity and many companies are planning to adopt it. In fact, 30% of enterprises are expected to have deployed SD-WAN technology in their branches by the end of next year (2019). This is compared to less than 1% of enterprises that deployed SD-WAN just a few years ago, according to a Gartner report.
It is a rapidly expanding market and companies are vying to acquire SD-WAN startups. Cisco completed its $610 million acquisition of SD-WAN firm Viptela in August 2017 and VMware acquired SD-WAN startup VeloCloud in December 2017. This strengthens the case for businesses to adopt SD-WAN technologies as the new networking approach for the digital era.
The Many Benefits of SD-WAN
SD-WAN is a transformational approach to architect enterprise WANs to SD-WAN can transform expensive and complex networks into ones that are much more cost-effective, secure, and simpler to manage. MPLS has traditionally been the prime way to connect multiple sites for years. However, with organizations doing more in the cloud, with increasing network traffic and data, the traditional way of networking across connected offices are getting more complex, more expensive, and harder to manage.
SD-WAN presents a solution that may address many technical challenges while delivering direct business benefits. It is easy to implement, makes delivery of business applications more cost-effective, and improves branch-IT efficiency and security.
Challenges of traditional WAN in today’s digital, cloud-first world
Benefits of SD-WAN in today’s digital, cloud-first world
Simple to Deploy
SD-WAN simplifies the deployment and management of branch office WAN connectivity. By moving management of disparate networks from hardware to software, businesses benefit by removing the need to install and manage expensive routing hardware and physical network equipment at each site.
SD-WAN technology allows central network control and traffic management, as well as network automation, meaning businesses are free to design and deploy their network from a central location and implement changes and quickly roll-out updates to network hardware, such a routers, and switches.
SD-WAN provides complete visibility of your network across all locations from a centralized control dashboard. SD-WAN provides the freedom to control everything from one location easily and quickly, allowing real-time adjustments to optimize application flows, scalability, performance, security, and control.
Cost savings are made when organizations transition from legacy WANs that use expensive private lines and proprietary hardware to next-generation SD-WANs that use comparatively low-cost internet connections. Unlike MPLS, SD-WAN comes with no bandwidth penalties and new links can be added without necessary upgrades to the physical infrastructure or network.
Businesses can benefit from the long-term savings potential of SD-WAN by relying less on expensive, private MPLS connections and opting to use cheaper, public connections for less essential data. SD-WAN technology lets businesses switch carriers, and mix and match them based on bandwidth availability, and quickly and easily add new connections to remote locations.
SD-WAN networks use software to intelligently route network traffic over a mix of low-cost Internet, MPLS, Ethernet and Wi-Fi connections with the result being a more dynamic network and a more agile business.
Businesses can scale connectivity up and down for peak-and-valley demand. This flexibility helps improve a business’s connectivity between branch locations, the main office, and the cloud, meaning that businesses can avoid over-provisioning, and further lowering overall WAN expenses.
A big benefit of SD-WAN is the ability to cost-effectively mix and match network links according to content type or priority. Internet broadband and 4G LTE are less expensive than MPLS, so customers can choose those links instead of the expensive MPLS network for certain types of lower-priority traffic.
You can architect your network in such a way that you prioritize your traffic in line with mission-critical operations to gain greater agility and control of your business.
SD-WAN technology automatically determines the most effective way to route traffic to and from branch offices and data center sites, optimizing the enterprise WAN connections for efficient use of MPLS links and other connectivity options for better network experience. The technology allows businesses to make their network more efficient and dynamic when it comes to consuming network resources.
SD-WAN can increase your network security with encrypted network traffic, network segmentation, a central provisioning system, and increased network visibility. A primary advantage of SD-WAN is the built-in network security, with companies benefit from end-to-end encryption across the entire network, including the internet, and complete authentication of all devices and endpoints.
Security is built-in to SD-WAN solutions because of segmentation capabilities, limiting any network attack damage to a manageable area. With improved network visibility and centralized control, security can also be improved by allowing quick implementation of security patches and updates, and creation of new policies for specific applications.
Is SD-WAN Right for My Business?
Enterprises of all sizes across any industry or vertical can benefit from deploying SD-WAN. This applies to any business wanting to reduce WAN costs, increase scalability, gain centralized control, and improve visibility and security of its network. Whether you are looking for a large multi-site MPLS replacement solution, or if you have a single site that has a large requirement for bandwidth or you improved reliability, SD-WAN will most likely benefit your business.
SD-WAN is so appealing because it replaces the need for traditional WAN routers and supports transport technologies like MPLS, Internet, and LTE. It also allows load sharing of traffic across multiple WAN connections making it more efficient. More businesses are migrating to SD-WAN technologies with Gartner predicting that spending on SD-WAN products will rise from $129 million in 2016 to $1.24 billion in 2020.
Is Your Enterprise Evaluating Next Generation SD-WAN?
Adopting SD-WAN offers many benefits, including greater control, lower costs, greater agility/flexibility, ease of use/deployment, and increased security. While private-based networking such as MPLS will continue to be used to a degree, more businesses are looking at augmenting their network to take advantage of cost-savings and efficiencies delivered by next generation SD-WAN.
When it comes to evaluating SD-WAN for your business, Ascension Global Technology can help you assess how best to move forward with your network architecture to meet your unique business needs and work environment.
SD-WAN is not a one-size fit all solution and SD-WAN technology varies across different vendors. Each business is different, and some companies may find a hybrid mix of broadband and MPLS works for them, while others find a complete network transformation is better suited to their business.
AGT’s approach to SD-WAN is to provide our clients with full-service project management for successful evaluation and deployment of best-of-breed SD-WAN technologies that are specifically tailored to your business.
If your enterprise is evaluating next-generation SD-WAN, our dedicated team can assist you in properly designing and implementing the right mix of technology, so you can fully realize SD-WAN capabilities and benefits.
Contact AGT today for guidance on finding the right SD-WAN solution for your business.
References and Resources:
Gartner Predicts 2016: Enterprise Networks and Network Services, Dec 2015
SD-WAN technology is changing how business leaders think about their networks
SD-WAN vs. MPLS: The Pros and Cons of Both Technologies
An SD-WAN Can Cure Your Security Blues