Why SD-WAN Deserves Your Consideration
By abstracting the network into software, the SD-WAN represents the reinvention of the WAN as we know it.
As discussed previously on No Jitter, software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) technology automates the deployment and management of networks in order to expand the reach of an enterprise's private lines across the wide area. SD-WAN brings advantages to the WAN that typically are associated with software-defined networking in data centers.
Until SD-WAN came along, enterprises that wanted LAN-like performance across the wide area traditionally purchased and operated private networks. These commonly took the shape of T1 access to a Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) network with service-level assurances. A single enterprise might deploy multiple dedicated private networks -- one for every different application or business use.
These private networks can cost upwards of $300 per month for just 1.5 Mbps of capacity. These costs often hinder an enterprise's ability to support real-time applications such as VoIP, video conferencing, collaboration tools and services, and virtual desktops. With SD-WAN, enterprises now have the ability to expand their private networks at a much lower total cost of ownership (TCO).
How SD-WAN Works
SD-WAN abstracts the network into software instead of hardware, creating a network overlay and decoupling network services, such as VPN and firewall, from underlying hardware-attached WAN circuits. With this software abstraction layer, IT managers can control and manage their networks more easily than they are able to do when managing underlying WAN hardware. This network overlay provides a common interface across different physical components to ease the overall network administration and manage the delivery of business-grade applications across the enterprise.
Why Businesses Need SD-WANs
Here are four reasons why enterprises need SD-WANs today.
- Need to Ensure Critical Applications Run Continuously and Perform Well - The expectation is that businesses, customers, and partners, no matter how remote they are, experience applications at the same performance levels and robustness as if they were sitting at headquarters or in a data center. That's why enterprises increasingly deploy distributed architectures and business structures.
- Must Meet the Demands of Modern Branch Offices - Enterprises today need to support both workers and customer-facing services in distributed locations such as a new retail site, sales offices, or call centers. However, multiple location deployments from an IT perspective are typically cumbersome and slow.
- Cloud Migrations Are Generally Not Supported by Traditional Architectures - As enterprises move more and more applications to cloud infrastructure ( Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, for example), and increasingly adopt software-as-a-service applications such as Microsoft Lync/Skype for Business, Salesforce, and Box, they must choose the right architecture to access these applications. Not only must IT worry about day-to-day application and multiple location deployment issues, they must now prepare for a fundamental shift in the computing environment. Cloud applications reside in multiple locations outside private enterprise data centers. Therefore, enterprises need a cloud-based architecture that's dynamic and can support access to multiple, rapidly changing locations while delivering required flexibility and agility.
- Cost Savings With Automation - Using SD-WAN enables distributed enterprises to dramatically reduce IT Capex and Opex costs. Automation reduces truck rolls and the cost of installation, configuration, and ongoing maintenance of branch WAN infrastructure. Also, the abstraction of network functions into software reduces the hardware needed at branches; as a result, enterprises can realize huge cost savings as they significantly shrink Capex.
Enterprises have relied on traditional private networks to provide secure, high-performing, and highly available access to applications that normally reside within the walls of their own headquarters and private data centers. No company can afford to sacrifice the same levels of security, performance, and availability that it gets from a private network.
An Internet and cloud-capable solution such as SD-WAN offers an ideal way to enable direct access to the many application destinations because SD-WAN can use one or more available links/lines of all types. This provides enterprises the means to extend their WANs so users always have private-line experiences to both enterprise and cloud applications, and at much lower costs.
The increasing migration of business applications to the cloud and the performance needs of business-critical applications across the enterprise has changed the traditional WAN paradigm. SD-WAN represents the reinvention of the WAN as we know it.