This move to the cloud means that many businesses are now reassessing how they connect to their data and applications. Should they use ‘traditional’ wide-area network (WAN) methodologies or should they consider using SD-WAN?
SD-Wan, software-defined wide-area networks (SD-WAN), were seen as a gimmick by many when they first entered the public discourse, due to outlandish promises of reduced bandwidth costs. The truth is that SD-WAN can reduce these costs, but not always – leading to a level of a distrust at board level.
Changing perception of SD-WAN
Over the past 12 months or so, the reputation of these types of networks has begun to change. The original myth of cost-savings has been dispelled and CIOs have started to recognise the true value of SD-WAN – agility, scalability, and dynamic network control.
Enterprise network architects are now demanding solutions that are better suited to meet the changing needs of their business and operational requirements. This means quicker to deploy, better use of available bandwidth, dynamic congestion control, and application-aware routing. And this is why it’s time to take SD-WAN seriously.
SD-WAN as the future
There are several other things, on top of that widespread adoption of public cloud services, currently causing business decision makers to turn their heads away from the familiar concept of Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) and look to the more agile SD-WAN as the future of their networks.
Another trend is the high costs of traditional bandwidth, especially private circuits, as high-quality Internet services are becoming more prevalent.
Today’s average worker needs access to large amounts of bandwidth on a range of devices to meet enterprise operational requirements, whether downloading or streaming high volumes of content, having instant access to corporate data and information, and even collaboration such as video calls. This high use of bandwidth will only increase in the future as well, with big data and IoT playing a crucial role as network architectures continue to evolve.
To meet these needs, SD-WAN is able to run over a variety of transmission infrastructures, including public Internet, private circuits, and LTE (3G/4G). This connectivity can be added seamlessly without the pain of expensive re-configurations of remote devices, and therefore will greatly reduce the cost of deployment.
In addition to all this, one of the most significant benefits SD-WAN has over traditional WAN models is the ability to dynamically route traffic across any piece of bandwidth a business owns, as the technology is transport-agnostic.
Businesses preparing for change
Despite these clear benefits, there has not been widespread adoption of SD-WAN yet. Many companies have been tied down to multi-year service contracts, so have been unable to adopt new technology. Introducing the use of SD-WAN can also require significant investment, so many CFOs are keen to sweat the existing technology they use as much as possible.
However, over the next 12 to 18 months this looks certain to change.
SD-WAN gives enterprises the agility, scalability, and visibility from a network perspective to meet the structural change in application and data location, as well as meeting the impending requirements for big data and IoT applications.
There’s no doubt we’ll see significant market uptake for SD-WAN once legacy network obligations have been met and existing assets have been written off. In the mean-time, business are in danger of falling behind the curve if they are not already looking at how SD-WAN could underpin their business application and data access strategy.
As the SD-WAN migration can be complex and costly, businesses should ideally look to partner with a company that has experience in helping companies utilise the benefits of the new SD-WAN model. The benefits of SD-WAN are plenty, but only if the migration is managed well and the technology leveraged to its full capacity. SD-WAN technology may not have reached its full potential yet, but it’s time for business leaders to take it seriously.