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5 Reasons SD-WAN, 4G LTE Are Cloud Essentials

Businesses of all sizes across many industries are embracing cloud-based IT solutions in lieu of traditional on-premises server deployments, but wide-area network (WAN) implications brought about by this transition aren't immediately recognized.

Cloud-based applications for office automation, Web and video conferencing, file sharing, VoIP and collaboration -- including Microsoft 365, Cisco Spark, Slack, Box, and others -- are proliferating due to the reduced cost and complexity associated with rolling out and managing these services across a distributed enterprise.

However, unified communications- and other software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications create new demands on underlying WAN infrastructure, especially for remote branch sites. Two emerging WAN technologies make it easier for businesses to update their WAN infrastructures for the cloud era: software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) and 4G LTE.

Here are five reasons SD-WAN and 4G LTE provide essential capabilities for ensuring reliability and optimal performance of cloud-based applications:

  1. Elastic WAN -- Moving applications from on-premises servers (e.g., Exchange servers) to the cloud requires significantly more bandwidth at remote branch sites. However, expanding MPLS bandwidth everywhere is cost prohibitive for most organizations. SD-WAN allows companies to take advantage of low-cost wired and wireless broadband services -- such as cable, DSL, and 4G LTE -- to either augment or replace MPLS at up to 90% lower cost per bit, according to Nemertes Research. This creates a hybrid, elastic WAN that can cost-effectively stretch to support growth in Internet-bound traffic.
  2. Direct Internet Access -- Traditional branch WANs pass all Internet traffic through the central data center in order to leverage firewall and Web security services resident there. SD-WAN enables direct Internet access at the branch by integrating the firewall and Web security services at the edge router and utilizing intelligent path selection to steer cloud applications directly to the Internet instead of "tromboning" them through the data center.
  3. Nonstop Internet -- Cloud applications only work if you have Internet access, yet many companies have treated Internet access as a privilege as opposed to a necessity. Unreliable networks can be a threat to business productivity, so organizations need to consider deploying 4G LTE at branch sites for failover connectivity. Unlike dual-wired connections, which often share the same trench into a building and are subject to errant backhoes, 4G LTE provides true path diversity and ensures non-stop Internet access.
  4. Dynamic Traffic Steering and Quality of Service -- UCaaS applications are particularly sensitive to latency and jitter, which can make it difficult to hold productive Web conferences and phone calls. LTE-optimized SD-WAN edge routers can support multiple wired and wireless WAN links and employ dynamic traffic steering and QoS technologies. The router selects the optimal link for each flow and, should that link deteriorate over time, automatically steers the flow to a better one. This ensures that UCaaS applications perform optimally, whether their flows are running across MPLS, cable, or 4G LTE connections.
  5. Out of the Shadows -- Today, users can deploy collaboration applications on their own devices without involving IT. This new "bring your own app," or BYOA, trend -- often called shadow IT -- is usually done without explicit organizational approval, so the first time IT finds out about such applications is when they don't operate on the WAN.

    SD-WAN provides dynamic traffic discovery that lets IT personnel see what's running on the WAN at all times and provides an opportunity to block unsanctioned apps quickly. For organizations that allow end users some latitude in choosing their own apps, SD-WAN provides dynamic traffic control capabilities that ensure any new app gets the performance it needs without impacting existing latency-sensitive traffic, like VoIP.

In the cloud era, SD-WAN and 4G LTE technologies provide essential WAN edge infrastructure for seamless and elastic connectivity to the cloud -- and an optimal user experience.