For all businesses, enhancing their services and ensuring they are capable of meeting new challenges is reliant on a Network that is flexible, robust, and secure. SD-WAN delivers these benefits and much more, but many questions still exist around the technology. In this short read we review the essentials.
I’m reading a lot about what SD-WAN but I’m not sure what SD-WAN is, and what it can do for my business?
A Software-Defined WAN (SD-WAN) is, in essence, a way to use software to manage your WAN via virtualisation, including the firewalls and routers your business is using across its Network.
Think of SD-WAN as a similar technology to how SDN is used in data centres. The goal of SD-WAN is to give you more control, especially if you are managing international WANs.
As SD-WAN is cloud-enabled, your business has the maximum flexibility when deploying and managing your WAN, which can lead to lower costs and improved efficiencies across your business.
Which package is right for my business?
Looking at the technologies that SD-WAN can help me manage, does this include for instance Customer Premise Equipment (CPE) and the underlying connectivity?
This depends. Some vendors will only sell the SD-WAN component, as they expect their customers to already have the connectivity to the wider internet needed to run their WAN. However, other vendors offer a solution that includes the underlying connectivity needed and the SD-WAN management application.
The purchasing decision depends on how your business’s WAN is currently set up. If your business is looking to totally overhaul its Network infrastructure, buying bundled services which include SD-WAN is often the most cost-effective option.
Can SD-WAN reduce the cost of managing my international WAN?
Yes. Many businesses have now realised that moving their international WAN architecture to a cloud-based solution can offer cost-effective connectivity. This enhances their services, as Cloud is more flexible, enabling their business to become much more agile.
OK, I understand what SD-WAN is, but what are the key benefits to my business?
The key for businesses that are managing multiple Networks, often across international sites, is the ability SD-WAN offers to get an all encompassing overview of the Network. As a result businesses can see a tenfold increase in their bandwidth at a reduced cost.
What about our use of Public Cloud providers such as AWS and Azure? Can these also be managed and enhanced with SD-WAN?
SD-WAN allows you to seamlessly manage service spaces such as the ones you have running with AWS or Azure from your SD-WAN implementation. SD-WAN offers a control panel that can connect your underlying Network to gain the massive advantages this can offer in applications, speed, and efficiency.
So the core advantage to my business is that I can create a hybrid Network that consists of my existing WAN architecture, but that can extend to encompass services such as AWS or Azure to give my business the best possible bespoke solution?
SD-WAN isn’t a revolution as such in how you manage your Network, but more an evolution of the tools you already use. You can create a hybrid Network specific to your particular business needs.
You already know the advantages that virtualisation has brought to Network management. This can now be expanded and extended with the use of SD-WAN, giving your business more flexibility to take advantage of wider cloud-based services.
Our business is spread over many geographical regions. We often don’t have complete sight of our Network and its various components. Could SD-WAN help with this?
Yes, this is a major competence of SD-WAN. Having detailed monitoring and visibility is at the core of SD-WAN. You can see and control your entire Network, no matter where this is located.
What about the hardware components of our Network? Can SD-WAN help with these?
SD-WAN has the ability to completely virtualise Network components, which is a useful tool for those businesses that have wide geographical footprints.
Instead of having the technical and personnel issues surrounding the installation of new hardware at these locations, SD-WAN can be used to deliver Network components as virtual devices that can run on existing standard servers, which your existing IT staff are already familiar with.
Future cost control
I can see how using SD-WAN with our existing Network and connectivity could offer advantages, but does this come at an additional cost?
SD-WAN has been the victim of hype over the last few years. Having the ability to use cheaper locally-sourced internet connectivity reduces the cost of an MPLS Network for instance.
Your business needs to assess how it buys and operates its Networks at the moment. This will give you the insight you need to understand whether SD-WAN could offer your business an advantage.
Think about the components of your Network. These could include cloud-based services and your core MPLS Network. You need to consider these elements together when assessing the cost of using SD-WAN.
Generally speaking, however, the ability to closely control your network should deliver cost savings.
Will moving our business to a hybrid solution compromise our Network security?
No. SD-WAN gives you full control over Network elements such as routing, security policies, and the ability to integrate threat defence applications. These, when combined with IPsec VPN, can deliver robust, resilient, and secure communications between cloud applications, your remote sites, and individual users.
- SD-WAN can give businesses more control, especially when they are managing international WANs.
- Moving international WAN architecture to a cloud-based solution can lead to more cost-effective connectivity.
- With SD-WAN you can see and control your entire Network, no matter where it is located.
- SD-WAN offers robust, resilient, and secure communications between cloud applications, remote sites and individual users.