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The what’s and why’s of SD-WAN

What is SD-WAN?

SD-WAN is a specific application of software-defined networking (SDN) technology applied to WAN. It’s a flexible software layer, which is logically separated from the WAN hardware infrastructure – accessed via the cloud or on-premises – reducing management complexity.  Not only that, but it intelligently orchestrates application delivery – prioritising and optimising bandwidth requirements, accelerating application performance and unifying network connectivity – whether that’s MPLS, internet, broadband or 4G.

By utilising the public Internet or private bandwidth, SD-WAN can connect any networks – including IOT, branch offices, data centres and cloud over large geographical and international boundaries to create a single hybrid / logical infrastructure.

We see three significant benefits of SD-WAN:

 

    • Decoupling SD-WAN re-orientates the network from hardware to software by decoupling the network from the management plane and detaching the traffic management and monitoring functions from the hardware.  With this new-found agility IT teams have the capability they need to deliver services and connect new branches at incredible speed, which is vital as they compete with fast moving global businesses.
    • Simplified, secure traffic management SD-WAN offers a simplified ability to route enterprise traffic securely.  Internet and cloud application traffic can be directly routed out of the branch directly connecting to cloud services without going back and forth via the HQ data centre back.   Local internet breakouts and security policies can be managed and provisioned for each branch from a central management portal significantly improving security posture and delivering operational efficiencies.
    • Agnostic Connectivity With SD-WAN the underlying physical connectivity technology – whether it’s MPLS, Internet, broadband or cellular becomes irrelevant allowing companies to easily create hybrid networks.

New Business models driving the need for new network models

Times have changed.  The rise of cloud adoption with multi-cloud environments, BYOD and the sheer weight of data within businesses has created tremendous challenges for IT– a trend that is not set to change.  According to IDC, the SD-WAN market will “grow at 40.4% compound annual growth rate from 2017 to 2022 to reach $4.5bn”

The VP of Network Infrastructure at IDC confirms their findings, “The emergence of SD-WAN technology has been one of the fastest industry transformations we have seen in years. Organizations of all sizes are modernizing their Wide Area Networks to provide improved user experience for a range of cloud-enabled applications”.

Traditional WAN architectures were designed for a different time. They struggle with the unprecedented explosion of WAN traffic that cloud adoption brings, and the number of applications supported. That traffic causes management complexity, application performance unpredictability, data vulnerability, security challenges and a poor user experience.

IDC suggest that SD-WAN has arisen as the WAN’s responses to the migration of enterprise apps to the cloud and there is a growing momentum.   With SD-WAN at its core an enterprise will be able to provide the application reliability availability, performance, and security required, irrespective of the location of the apps – the cloud or the corporate data centre.

It’s not surprising that Gartner estimates that, “by 2020, more than 50 percent of WAN edge infrastructure refresh initiatives will be based on SD-WAN versus traditional routers.”1

SD-WAN: Intelligent network optimisation and business agility

Adopters of SD-WAN are experiencing real, tangible benefits – from the choice of connectivity options throughout the WAN, to security, and increased network resilience.  It gives organisations what they want now – consistent application security, optimisation of WAN bandwidth, and the agility the IT teams need to support business requirements today.

SD-WAN delivers:

    • Greater network performance from bandwidth optimisation
    • Better network visibility and control from one management plane – that can scale to thousands of remote sites
    • Simple automation and orchestration
    • Operational flexibility and simplicity. Services, policies and connectivity can be deployed in min/hours rather than days/weeks
    • End-point flexibility – physical or virtual network devices that can be deployed in the branch, cloud, co-location facility, or the data centre
    • Transport independence and carrier agnostic throughout the WAN
    • Support for hybrid MPLS/ Internet WANs
    • Secure cloud connectivity
    • Security policies that can be deployed centrally, throughout the WAN.  Mission-critical traffic and assets can also be partitioned and protected against vulnerabilities in other parts of the enterprise
      Rich network services which can be deployed in minutes
    • Real-time application analytics and assurance providing visibility for forecasting, planning and faster troubleshooting

If you’d like to explore SD-WAN options we’d be happy to chat, or you can register to attend an event we’re running at Cisco’s Executive Briefing Centre on the 21st March.  Our technical experts will be taking a deeper dive into SD-WAN and then assessing Cisco’s SD-WAN solution portfolio.   Register here: https://cisco-marketing.com/page/fKKbY56j/khvfFTYfz/cisco-sd-wan-event

SD-WAN Solution Overview: Link to Cisco SD-WAN Solution Overview Final

Our next blog in these series will evaluate the SD-WAN solutions that Cisco offer.  As a global leader in networking and security Cisco brings these key strengths into their solutions. What are these and how are they perceived by the market?

Sources:

  1. Forecast: SD-WAN and Its Impact on Traditional Router and MPLS Services Revenue, Worldwide; Joe Skorupa | Andrew Lerner | Christian Canales, November 7, 2016
  2. IDC: SD-WAN: Momentum Builds as Early Adopters Experience Tangible Benefits (January 2018)
  3. IDC’s Worldwide SD-WAN Infrastructure Forecast, 2018–2022

The IDC study, Worldwide 2017 SD-WAN Infrastructure Market Shares: Incumbent Networking Vendors and Startups Compete in Fast-Growing Market

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