As we discussed in a previous post, software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) adoption is accelerating rapidly as organizations address ongoing challenges related to traditional WAN architectures. Gartner analysts predict that 40 percent of enterprise organizations will implement SD-WAN by the end of the year.
The trend is not surprising. Modern workloads are placing a strain on aging networks, and management is becoming more complicated due to rigid, manual processes and hard-to-maintain legacy technologies.
Network modernization with SD-WAN can resolve many of these challenges. By virtualizing hardware and making it programmable through software, SD-WAN allows network administrators to automate manual tasks and streamline operations. This frees up resources and enabling new levels of speed, efficiency, scale and cost-effectiveness.
Although network modernization is on the radar for many IT teams in 2019, the executives who control the purse strings will have to be persuaded that SD-WAN is a sound investment. SD-WAN is often pitched as a way to cut telecom costs by giving organizations the ability to use less-expensive broadband Internet links for branch connectivity instead of dedicated circuits or multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) links. While it is an enticing factor, cost-cutting alone isn’t the most convincing reason for a significant network upgrade.
In reality, many other benefits combine to make a compelling business case for SD-WAN. Here are five important ways it delivers value:
1. Increased Flexibility
A key feature of SD-WAN is its ability to blend multiple transport types, such as MPLS, broadband Internet and cellular, in an active-active configuration. Software-based intelligence provides automated, policy-driven routing of traffic over the optimal connection. This enables organizations to leverage the most cost-efficient connectivity for each application and use case.
2. Simplified Management
Traditional WANs are configured and updated manually, and administrators must visit each location to perform these tasks. SD-WAN is highly automated and managed through a centralized controller, dramatically reducing this operational overhead. Some solutions also integrate WAN optimization, security and other features, making it possible to further simplify management by reducing the “branch stack.”
3. Better App Performance
The performance of cloud-based applications suffers over a traditional WAN that backhauls traffic from the cloud to the data center. This so-called “hairpin” routing creates latency issues. SD-WAN eliminates this problem by identifying latency-sensitive workloads and pushing that traffic along the optimal branch connection to create a predictable user experience.
4. Reduced Risk
The traditional hub-and-spoke WAN architectural model creates a single point of failure. Branch locations access the Internet through VPN links back to the data center “hub.” If there is an outage or a failure at the hub, the entire organization will lose connectivity. SD-WAN reduces this risk by enabling multiple broadband links to each location.
5. Enhanced Security
Direct Internet access at branch locations and increased reliance on cloud apps create new points of network vulnerability. SD-WAN enables WAN segmentation — virtually impossible with traditional architectures — and supports end-to-end encryption. Cisco also bakes in advanced security features such as an application-aware firewall, intrusion prevention, malware analysis, sandboxing, URL filtering and more.
Increasingly complex business applications, communications systems and cloud services are placing heavy demands on legacy WAN architectures that aren’t designed to handle such workloads. Network modernization with SD-WAN can address these challenges while creating numerous other bottom-line benefits. Give us a call to learn more about these benefits and how to build an effective business case for your SD-WAN implementation.