Connectivity is vital to business survival. Before software-defined wide-area networks (SD-WAN), IT departments had to reconfigure routers, switches, and firewalls in multiple locations. Many of those changes had to be performed on-site or through an individualized user interface. The process could take hours, sometimes days, and errors were common. SD-WAN solutions allow changes to happen programmatically, making them happen faster and with less chance of error. Here, we’ll take you through what you need to know about SD-WAN and its benefits.
What Is SD-WAN?
Software-defined (SD) WANs support an array of transport technologies. SD-WAN technology lets network administrators configure network resources and identify problems before they impact operations. The dynamic technology means businesses can connect distributed networks efficiently to meet their growing infrastructure needs.
A 2020 survey of US companies showed that the majority of national (79%) and global (77%) enterprises had implemented SD-WAN technology. With only 52% of all businesses using some form of SD-WAN, a significant portion of organizations still lack an agile and flexible infrastructure to keep pace with rapid changes. Implementing SD-WAN means companies can improve their networks:
- Cloud management
The technology uses overlays to connect local area networks (LANs) into larger, more distributed enterprises from a central location.
SD-WAN supports multiple connectivity options to build a more resilient infrastructure. Because it does not share the physical limitations of a traditional network, SD-WAN can ensure improved uptime and network availability. The technology minimizes downtime due to performance failures because it can automatically redirect traffic based on how much bandwidth is consumed.
One of the benefits of SD-WAN is that performance does not depend on how fast IT can reconfigure the network. Network administrators can see network activity in real-time and can mitigate problems quickly. Because of end-to-end visibility, resilient operations are possible. After all, most application outages begin with a network problem.
With more people working remotely, network demands increase. Adding more internet of things (IoT) devices only contributes to the problem of insufficient resources. Changing traffic flow makes it difficult for IT departments to ensure reliable performance. SD-WAN can alleviate traffic flow issues because changes in demand can happen programmatically.
SD-WAN can perform load-balancing by distributing traffic over multiple links. It can transport data directly to an endpoint, making network operations run smoothly. The technology can identify upgrade paths for added bandwidth and reduce the lag time of numerous round trips to deliver content to the cloud.
Traditional networks may have to send multiple requests to the cloud because they are often removed from an endpoint such as a remote employee or a factory sensor. SD-WAN can connect the endpoint to the cloud for faster response time and better employee experiences. The technology can adjust traffic to better use resources in a hybrid environment.
When more people are in the office, fewer resources are needed to support remote workers. Being able to adjust the bandwidth to fit the traffic means fewer data losses or transmission delays. Administrators can see what is causing problems in real-time, making it easier to ensure a standard of performance regardless of where the work is being performed.
SD-WAN also provides secure, encrypted tunneling. An increase in malware over encrypted connections means organizations need a solution that checks traffic coming in from all endpoints. The technology can leverage advanced security features to support a distributed security model for more robust network defenses. For example, guests can use a separate but secure wireless connection, eliminating the need for a link into the internal network. The more secure in-flight data is, the better the defenses against the ever-increasing cybersecurity threats.
Agile and Flexible
Whether part of the private or public sector, companies need SD-WAN to ensure their flexibility to meet changing demands. With over 75% of major corporations looking to SD-WAN to make them more agile, businesses that do not incorporate the technology into their technology stack will find themselves playing catch up. If you’re looking to implement SD-WAN or just thinking about it, contact us to discuss moving forward.