Why SD-WAN is the Future of Global Connectivity

March 29, 2018

We’ve long touted the benefits of a software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) so it’s encouraging to see that enterprises are increasingly recognizing its value. IDC recently surveyed mid-market enterprises and found they are rapidly embracing SD-WAN infrastructure and services. Surveyed companies cited bandwidth optimization, consistent application security, improved automation, and self-provisioning as top reasons why they are considering adopting SD-WAN.

Rohit Mehra, vice president of IDC’s Network Infrastructure, noted how enterprise WAN is rapidly being “re-architected to cost-effectively deliver new, secure capabilities,” and that adapting current solutions such as SD-WAN will be a “key ingredient for success.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves, but we should explain more about why SD-WAN is a good fit for the demanding digital business needs of today.

Cloud Adoption Drives The Need For Better Connectivity

Cloud-based applications make the business world go round. With the evolution of the cloud, networks directly affect our access to business critical applications, data, social media services, video conferences and more.

Applications aren’t uniform; they don’t need the same level of speed, latency and performance from a network. By boosting network capacity exactly where it is needed, SD-WAN ensures the quality of application delivery. At the same time, SD-WAN’s dynamic path selection avoids congestion points and diverts traffic to less-traveled routes. This kind of responsive load balancing lets IT easily perform the high-quality data transfers that are needed for high-performance apps.

Efficient Use Of Resources

The “SD” in SD-WAN could also stand for “simple deployment.” These solutions couldn’t be easier to implement and manage.  SD-WAN uses a virtual overlay to abstract underlying network connections, which simplifies network operations by routing critical application traffic over a high-quality connection while shifting unimportant applications usage to a lower-rung Quality-of-Service (QoS) connection.

SD-WAN especially benefits global companies with multiple locations.  Gartner estimates that provisioning network changes at branch offices with SD-WAN reduces deployment time by as much as 80 percent. Not to mention, companies using SD-WAN no longer have to spend more money to re-architect bandwidth allocations at branch offices.

Avoid Appliance Sprawl

Network management has long been hamstrung by technology sprawl: firewall systems and appliance boxes that have to be purchased and deployed at every site. In-house infrastructure requires maintenance, upgrades, subscription renewals and, ultimately, replacement. Just as importantly, rules and security capabilities are set and you usually can’t adjust the technology to improve performance.

On the other hand, SD-WAN is software defined. It’s not an unchangeable piece of architecture that outlives its efficacy while payments are still being made. It’s flexible and allows enterprises to do more with less. With one software service, SD-WAN offers routing, WAN path selection and acceleration, and application performance, allowing IT teams to easily manage applications on a per-user and per-location basis.

A True Way to Cut Costs

Money matters, of course. That’s why cost savings are almost reason alone to consider SD-WAN. @Gartner analyst Andrew Lerner says SD-WAN can be up to two and a half times less expensive than a traditional WAN architecture.

Cost is one of the main reasons why MPLS growth has leveled, despite massive growth in the data usage and cloud connectivity needs of enterprises. MPLS circuits are expensive and often put companies in an uncomfortable position where they have to debate sacrificing performance to keep costs in check. More often than not, enterprises have to pay for business-grade internet and several services with redundant links to meet uptime expectations.

With SD-WAN, however, cheaper public internet circuits such as Ethernet, DSL, and cable are usually one-third to half the cost of MPLS links at comparable speeds. SD-WAN doesn’t diminish network performance and keeps productivity humming along.

SD-WAN Holds Great Promise to Revolutionize Networking As We Know it

Application performance is always a top priority for enterprises, but so is the opportunity to lower IT costs.  So it’s no surprise analysts expect SD-WAN to become a must-have technology service in today’s globalized world. SD-WAN helps businesses effectively manage the network demands of cloud-based applications, while greatly reducing the costs.

Dave Greenfield

Dave Greenfield

Dave Greenfield is a veteran of IT industry. He’s spent more than 20 years as an award-winning journalist and independent technology consultant. Today, he serves as a secure networking evangelist for Cato Networks.