SD-WAN: Designed for Completeness?

July 15, 2020

Completeness, as defined by Oxford Dictionary, is “the state or condition of having all the necessary or appropriate parts.” Let’s analyze SD-WAN’s completeness according to this definition.

SD-WAN delivers various benefits compared to legacy WANs, mainly offering enterprises cost optimization, agility, and simplicity. To achieve this Gartner outlined four characteristics an SD-WAN solution should include:

  • The ability to replace legacy WAN routers and support multiple transport links such as MPLS, Internet, and LTE.
  • Dynamic load sharing of traffic across multiple WAN connections, based on corporate defined policies.
  • Simplification of the complexity associated with configuring, managing, and maintaining a WAN (e.g., delivering zero touch provisioning for new branches).
  • Secure VPNs and the option to integrate additional network services such as firewall, WAN Optimization, and SWG.

(Source: Technology Overview for SD-WAN 02 July 2015. ID: G00279026 Analyst(s): Andrew Lerner, Neil Rickard.)

So, What’s Missing?

SD-WAN presents an affordable and flexible replacement for MPLS without the complexities associated with traditional WANs. It’s great, really SD-WOW. But, since its premier in 2014 a lot has happened, even a global crisis. Enterprises across all industries and geographies are becoming cloud-first. They require cloud application acceleration, enhanced security for users, locations, and data – without affecting performance, and not to mention having to suddenly shift to a work-from-everywhere model.

Network security, cloud connectivity, and remote access are all critical requirements, yet SD-WAN fails to address them. It seems that the definition for technology completeness doesn’t fit SD-WAN, at least not for the modern digital business needs.

Don’t Settle for a Faster Horse

While SD-WAN is the first step in overcoming MPLS costs and constraints, that in itself isn’t enough to ensure the network keeps up with the business. It’s time to take a leap. Simply augmenting SD-WAN doesn’t result in SD-WAN completeness. Rather, it keeps IT teams caught in the never-ending cycle of installing, managing and maintaining point products. What would Albert Einstein say about doing SD-WAN over and over again and expecting different results?

The modern digital business is dependent on the network’s ability to connect all resources, protect them, and adapt to any change. SD-WAN alone isn’t the answer. A new network is needed, built from the ground up, on an architecture fit to support the needs and growth plans of enterprises today. This calls for a Secure Access Service Edge (SASE). SASE is designed for completeness.

Introduced by Gartner as a new market category, SASE converges SD-WAN and network security capabilities into a single, global, cloud service. SASE eliminates the complexity associated with the procurement, deployment, and management of numerous point solutions (SD-WAN included) that comprise the enterprise network and security infrastructure.

100% Completeness with SASE

SASE creates an agile, scalable and elastic platform that truly transforms a WAN to support the way business is conducted today. The SASE architecture connects and secures sites, cloud resources, and remote users. It delivers the required networking capabilities of security, routing, analytics, scalability, and central management missing in SD-WAN.

Some advice from Gartner to avoid confusing SD-WAN with the completeness of a SASE platform:

  • Ask network security vendors to show a roadmap for SASE capabilities, including SD-WAN.
  • Request vendors to demonstrate existing and expected investments in POPs.
  • Avoid SASE offerings that are stitched together (i.e., the complexity of point products).
  • Closely evaluate the integration of services, and the ability to be orchestrated as a single experience from a single console and a single method for setting policies.

(Source: The Future of Network Security Is in the Cloud. Published: 30 August 2019 ID: G00441737. Analyst(s): Neil MacDonald, Lawrence Orans, Joe Skorupa.)

Completeness matters. Today, more than ever. Without it, IT can’t support future business initiatives. SASE offers a global, converged, could-native architecture that supports all edges – four core qualities essential for a complete network that promises to support business transformation in a constantly evolving industry.

Elana Marom

Elana Marom

Elana Marom is a full stack marketer with over 20 years of experience in both startups and enterprises. As Director of Product Marketing at Cato Networks, Elana is passionate about raising awareness for SASE and helping customers leverage its value to prepare their business for whatever is next.