Tony Walt
Tony Walt Chief Operations Officer

Everyone who’s anyone in the world of networking is talking about this technology. It seems as if every second blog extolls the benefits of SD-WAN, and what it means for enterprises across the globe.

two men looking at laptop

And with good reason: the software-defined wide area network is spearheading a revolution that is enabling IT departments to show vastly increased business value. SD-WAN is the connectivity solution we’ve been waiting for. It’s the answer to the challenges of speed, security and reliability and control that network managers have been faced with as cloud computing surges in popularity.

The rise of cloud technology has transformed the way we work. While we are reaping the rewards in terms of accessibility and flexibility, reliance on cloud technology has placed a whole new set of demands on enterprise networks. Legacy WAN setups that depend on MPLS (multiprotocol label switching) links aren’t able to keep pace with increased performance requirements; they are costly, cumbersome and complicated. As a short-term fix, the IT team might patch the issues by adding extra bandwidth – but this is expensive and unsustainable.

And that’s why an SD-WAN solution is preferable. It decreases costs while increasing the network’s agility, security and performance. The way it does this becomes clear when its six core benefits (or drivers of business value) are highlighted.

Faster deployment

An SD-WAN cuts out the chore of manually building a WAN. You don’t have to physically install routers, firewalls and other devices at each branch office (a process that can take weeks or even months). SD-WAN can be set up in minutes and uses zero-touch provisioning. This means that you can be up and running (and profitably productive) in no time at all.

Better agility

The network is as flexible as your business.

Needs change, and the enterprise network must be able to adapt to accommodate them. With an SD-WAN solution, configuration updates and system upgrades can be performed quickly and centrally and pushed out across the network in seconds.

Dynamic where it matters

The smart tech ensures that critical apps are prioritised, and performance is dependable across the network. This speaks directly to the common concern among CIOs and IT administrators about quality of service.

Reduced OpEx

It’s expensive to develop a WAN and keep its performance at top-notch in response to increased demands. A slew of staff is required to operate the WAN: IT managers, network admins, design engineers and more. While a full team may be available at HQ, it’s not often the case at branch offices (particularly remote ones). Sending IT staff out to provision, maintain and troubleshoot drains resources. A good SD-WAN solves this by minimising the number of staff and skills needed to get – and keep – systems online.

Cost savings

SD-WAN further helps to slash costs by leveraging inexpensive broadband connections. These can be used to support existing MPLS links should a hybrid WAN solution best fit your enterprise. Multiple connections (even where broadband is relied on exclusively), significantly reduce the risk of downtime. If one fails, traffic is simply rerouted to another.

Consolidation (and simplification)

SD-WAN also offers consolidation, and centralisation. You no longer have to rack up multi-vendor costs by having different hardware and software support, and management: everything can be brought under one umbrella, and rolled out from a central location. It’s secure, too, and you have maximum control and minimum risk.

The number of SD-WAN’s benefits add up to give employees more time for core-business functions. This means that even the leanest IT departments can play an important role in taking the enterprise forward.

Industry analysts expect uptake of SD-WAN to accelerate rapidly in the next two to three years. Gartner predicts that by the end of 2019, almost a third of enterprises will be using it across their branches (up from 1% at the end of 2015).

Enterprise networks have no choice but to evolve. And the sooner you deploy the right SD-WAN connectivity solution, the sooner it can become a strategic business asset that adds real value to your organisation.

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