When software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) was first introduced, it was anticipated to be a niche market for a few startups. As networks have become more complex with cloud connectivity, enterprises have increasingly recognized SD-WAN as a solution to network management that answers a variety of challenges.
The Myth: It’s All About Cost
In recent history, enterprises used multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) lines to connect branch locations to their network and then route traffic to and from the internet. This worked fine when all software was housed on-site and firewalls could form a secure boundary around all network activity.
MPLS is reliable and secure, but as organizations began to use cloud solutions and branch locations interacted with remote employees, it became challenging to manage MPLS costs for all of these uses. While the cost of MPLS does factor into the decision to consider SD-WAN, the advantages of the technology often dwarf the cost consideration:
Zero-touch provisioning: For enterprises with many branch locations or those that expect a surge in the number of locations, the ability to provision, configure and troubleshoot network problems from headquarters is a key benefit. It saves both time and travel costs, and allows branch locations to come online in a matter of minutes rather than weeks.
Traffic segmentation: With SD-WAN, network administrators are able to set business policy to direct different types of network traffic to different connection types. A videoconference, for example, can be directed to a reliable MPLS line, while employees streaming videos on break can be directed to public internet connections.
Improved security: The ability to segment out traffic to the network by application type, user or location can make it easier to identify and isolate any threat to the network. Technologies that significantly increase the number of endpoints for an enterprise, such as Internet of Things (IoT) devices or prioritizing mobility for employees, can make it critical that one misplaced or stolen device is prevented from creating a crisis across the network.
Agility: Different cloud applications prioritize different qualities in a network connection, but SD-WAN can handle them all. From reducing jitter and latency to better reliability or performance, the management of the network with a virtual overlay on the physical network allows for each application to be handled with attention to its requirements.
The evolving IT infrastructure is demanding better network solutions to handle multiple endpoints and cloud technology. SD-WAN is often a good solution in terms of cost, but the disruptive nature of its benefits offer opportunities for innovation and the ability to edge out competitors with better agility, performance and network management.
To learn more about how SD-WAN technology is applied in specific business environments, contact us at Access Tech. We can assist you in determining which clients are the best candidates for the technology and the types of benefits they may experience.