Enterprises are turning to software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) as a way to manage increasing bandwidth costs and the growing complexity of networking in the cloud era. For many, the initial conversation centers around cost savings, but as the benefits of SD-WAN play out in real life, cost concerns are often dwarfed by other advantages the approach offers. Further improvements are often realized with the adoption of managed SD-WAN.
As enterprises adopt more cloud solutions into their environments, which carry high bandwidth demands and specific performance requirements, the related WAN costs can be hefty. While multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) lines are reliable and secure, they are also more costly than alternatives such as broadband internet.
SD-WAN offers the opportunity to either replace or augment MPLS with alternative pathways, while also permitting enterprises to set up traffic prioritization according to business policies. This means that high-priority traffic remains on secure MPLS lines, while less-critical traffic can be handled more economically.
SD-WAN also introduces the advantage of improved visibility and control, allowing network managers to handle provisioning, configuration, and troubleshooting from a centralized dashboard, eliminating costly trips to branch locations to set up connectivity or handle a performance issue.
While these benefits make SD-WAN a preferred networking method for enterprises, there remain some gaps in the technology that network teams struggle to address in-house. Many SD-WAN solutions fail to provide adequate security, and patched-on security methods leave the network vulnerable. In addition, many teams struggle to get the right visibility into mobile activity, which can also create both security and performance issues.
In many cases, these challenges are best addressed through managed SD-WAN. A managed services provider can handle the security, provisioning, configuration, and troubleshooting of the network, taking over the entire control and management from the enterprise.
Managed SD-WAN gives enterprises the ability to hand-off all network concerns, but they may find it frustrating to have a third party handling their traffic prioritization policy. This is often addressed using a co-managed approach, in which the managed SD-WAN provider handles all troubleshooting and many of the management tasks associated with the network, while the enterprise retains control over policies governing traffic prioritization.
SD-WAN is far from a mature or commoditized technology. Enterprises and managed service providers aren’t always a good match, and every SD-WAN solution is not the same. Take time to determine whether a provider is a good fit based on their resolution times, their culture, and how they approach security and disaster recovery.
Managed SD-WAN allows you to close critical gaps in your network management to support cloud solutions and the increasing digitization of your business. Contact us at Access Tech to begin the process of exploring SD-WAN for your network management.