Enterprise networks are undergoing major roadworks and the evolving demands of businesses are driving the huge changes in network architecture and operations. And, as more and more enterprises migrate to the cloud, they find that their legacy networks cannot meet their needs. It is possible to tread water by making expensive adjustments to these networks, but ultimately, a sustainable, cost-effective connectivity solution is warranted. That is SD-WAN – and here, we look at why there is a surge in demand.
Current network challenges
Businesses face a number of difficulties when it comes to traditional enterprise networks, and they can be broadly categorised as follows.
Legacy networks are expensive. And there are not many practical ways to lessen the costs without a solution that includes Network Functions Virtualisation (NFV) and a Software-Defined Network (SDN), Highly-skilled (read expensive) engineers need to be deployed to perform provisioning, troubleshooting, and maintenance at branches, and multiple hardware devices are required. This adds up to high overheads. Then there is the matter of adding bandwidth when demand spikes; if you rely on MPLS links, you will know just how costly that can be.
There is also the issue of complexity: legacy networks are far from simple, especially as a business expands its service and geographic areas. It can be challenging wrangling a multi-vendor network ecosystem, with large teams of engineers and other IT staff and environments that are far from centralised. Additional apps and services have to be managed at each branch – and where multiple, scattered locations prevail, this can be an expensive, time-consuming and complicated task. High levels of complexity, together with the high costs mentioned above, can throttle an enterprise’s potential for growth.
From the above, it should be clear that legacy networks translate to low speeds. This has multiple meanings – only one of which is slow traffic in times of high demand. Enterprise networks that do not tap into NFV and SD-WAN slow the process of bringing new offices online, and this has direct, negative effects on productivity. The longer it takes for a new branch to get up and running on the network, the longer it takes for them to generate profits. In addition, IT managers spend large amounts of time managing multiple devices at a branch, and this can leave senior resources thinly spread. Again, working out of a decentralised environment is problematic – and costly.
This creates a further challenge: diminished network control. Legacy networks mean multiple transport networks that offer inconsistent degrees (and types) of control. And they require in-branch, time-consuming configuration when setup is done or changes are effected. There is also a frustrating lack of extensibility with the proprietary network elements, and an equally frustrating likelihood of being locked into cumbersome contracts with vendors.
SD-WAN as a solution
Enter SD-WAN. After confronting the above challenges, IT professionals began searching for a viable and affordable connectivity solution that would not require the uprooting of their existing network structures. They found SD-WAN.
A good SD-WAN product reduces cost, cuts complexity, boosts speeds, and dramatically increases control. It also addresses high availability, agility and security concerns. By virtualising the enterprise network (and leveraging NFV to virtualise the devices that run thereon), the right SD-WAN product puts the power – and resources – back into the hands of the IT manager.
With SD-WAN, control is centralised, traffic is routed responsively and hyper-efficiently, visibility is increased, and productivity is immediate. SD-WAN can be set up at the touch of a button – there are no lengthy wait times. SD-WAN gives an enterprise the agility it needs to thrive in a competitive market.