Tony Walt
Tony Walt Chief Operations Officer

Technology research expert Gartner has predicted that 30% of businesses will have deployed software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) technology by the end of 2019. We are looking at the blueprint of the enterprise network architecture of the future. And it’s about time.

man and woman talking while looking at a tablet

The way we build and manage enterprise networks hasn’t changed much in two decades. It’s still as centred on hardware and driven by CLI (command line interface) as ever. To be fair, this approach worked for a while. But not anymore..

Networks need to be faster, more agile, responsive and secure – and simpler. SD-WAN technology facilitates all of that, and offers a time-saving benefit too.

But before exploring the how, where and what of this disruptive tech, let’s glance at the fertile conditions that have seeded its popularity.

Organisations of all shapes and sizes are migrating their systems and applications to the cloud to meet the demands of the mobile workforce and their devices. Legacy networks with multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) links are largely unable to meet the increased clamour for speed, availability and performance. Many IT managers have added extra bandwidth to the network, but it is an expensive fix that is not sustainable.

The complexity of a legacy network, with many devices and locations, impedes the performance of applications, productivity and delivery shrink. It’s the IT department’s job to remedy this and to keep costs low. This requires simplifying and streamlining the enterprise network, while  rethinking the use of IT resources (which keep getting leaner). This is where SD-WAN comes in.

A good SD-WAN solution (and no, they’re not all the same) will free up your IT team and save money and time. IT staff are released from administrative drudgery to focus on higher-level tasks that add real value to the enterprise. Below, we’ll explore the four ways in which SD-WAN does this.

Zero-touch provisioning

SD-WAN automates and simplifies provisioning. It eliminates the need to physically go out and supply and fit resources at each branch or office. This facilitates rapid branch deployment; provisioning can be done in a matter of minutes – and without any expert on site. It’s a plug-and-provision solution, so your IT staff can focus on important tasks at home base.

Centralised management

One of the major magnets of SD-WAN is that IT bosses can manage the entire enterprise network from one central place. You can configure, edit and update documents from your headquarters and push them out across the network in seconds – now that saves time, and drives productivity.

Greater business agility and responsiveness

SD-WAN means fast and secure Internet connectivity. It  opens up access to lower-cost links  and ample bandwidth, and this translates to greatly-enhanced agility, and the ability to respond to changing network needs. SD-WAN cuts out the backhaul traffic from branches to a data centre, via pricey WAN links, then hands it over to the Internet. It also dumps the latency that goes with this process.

Increased application performance across the WAN

SD-WAN prioritises business-critical applications and dynamically selects cost-efficient public and private links. If one fails, the remaining paths keep everything running smoothly.

SD-WAN has the potential to transform enterprise network management. By simplifying and bolstering the network, it lets the IT department spend more time on the broader goals of the enterprise. It can also slash network overheads: SD-WAN is up to 2.5 times less expensive than traditional WAN infrastructure. To find out more about this exciting technology and the ROI it offers, get in touch.

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