SD-WAN: Going Next-Gen with Your Network

Whether you're trying to improve operational efficiencies or streamline capital expenditure, reducing spend is at the top of any manager or business leader's to-do list. There are many contributors to IT overspending, but one of the largest culprits is the investment made in legacy systems that are not only costly to maintain, but serve as a blocker to improve overall efficiencies by moving to the cloud.

By adopting SD-WAN technology, enterprises can remove the burdens of monolithic legacy networks and alleviate many of the issues that are holding back their business from reaching its full potential, one of which is cost.

In fact, IT decision makers believe that the use of SD-WAN can dramatically lower network costs by reducing hardware expenditures, by 43%, and operational costs, often caused by the need to manually configure networks, by 41%, as discovered in Riverbed's Future of Networking Global Survey 2017.

SD-WAN provides enterprises that have made the bet on the cloud with enormous strategic advantages, including increased agility through automated provisioning, cost-effective scalability, network performance acceleration, improved security, and more. Common use cases in which SD-WAN can help companies include:

  • Hybrid WAN -- Through a hybrid WAN approach, which leverages multiple transport technologies, you can split traffic between high and low-cost WAN links based on availability of links and business-criticality of the traffic. This allows for more efficient bandwidth management and reduces network costs.
  • Cloud Connectivity to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) -- Many enterprises have already or are planning to migrate some workloads to the cloud. SD-WAN securely enables connectivity to workloads in IaaS such as AWS or Azure.
  • Cloud Connectivity, Direct to Software as a Service (SaaS)/Internet -- The use of SaaS apps, such as Office 365 and Salesforce, is growing. With SD-WAN, you can route SaaS traffic directly from branch Internet breakouts.

Saving Money

The end result is a modernized network that is purpose-built to facilitate the cloud and an organization's transformation into a truly digital company. But the most impactful way SD-WAN technology can affect the business is the realization of cost savings. Through SD-WAN, companies can address some of their network's prime suspects that contribute to wasted cloud spend including over-provisioning, poor bandwidth utilization, and lack of control mechanisms. Cost savings due to SD-WAN are achieved in several ways:

  • WAN Connectivity & Circuits -- The monthly costs of an MPLS connection can be overwhelming as your organization continues to scale. MPLS services tend to be SLA-oriented (promising uptime) and often come at a premium price point, usually two to 50x more than business broadband. SD-WAN affords businesses the ability to effectively leverage all available network connections (MPLS to business broadband to LTE) to their full capacity without worrying about maintaining idle backup links. An ideal SD-WAN solution will reduce the network cost without compromising the performance, manageability, and security.
  • Equipment -- There is always an acquisition cost (Capex) associated with any networking equipment. For example, every time you purchase a router, you are not only spending on the device itself but also investing in maintenance and support from the router vendor. That can add up quickly. SD-WAN allows you to significantly reduce your acquisition cost of hardware and software. There is a shift in the industry due to cloud pricing models; many vendors are now moving towards a subscription model.
  • Deployment and Management of the Network -- Modern businesses are moving to the cloud for obvious reasons -- operational simplicity and efficiency. SD-WAN allows for the auto provisioning and centralized management and orchestration of the network. In fact, Gartner anticipates a 50% to 90% improvement in the time it takes enterprises (or relevant third parties) to provision network changes at branches with SD-WAN. Branch deployment workflows currently require configuration of individual appliances. Experienced network engineers are often needed at the branch locations to configure or troubleshoot the appliance, adding to costs and time lost in travel. SD-WAN automates the provisioning and configuration of devices. Zero touch provisioning offers unprecedented agility for network deployment. Automation offered by SD-WAN abstracts the complexities of traditional network management, creating a network infrastructure that is more agile, flexible, and most importantly, cost efficient. SD-WAN enables you to bring up a site quickly and make configuration changes with ease. Now, you can deploy a branch rapidly, allowing revenue generating branches to open earlier, leading to an improved time-to-money ratio.

Additionally, SD-WAN leads to increased employee productivity and end-user satisfaction. By assuring a high-performance network and adding network agility so that demands from the executive, applications, or product teams can be quickly met, an ideal SD-WAN solution can significantly contribute to an improvement in organization-wide productivity. Furthermore, integrated visibility enables a closed-loop process to verify performance, as well as help us continuously improve it. Note that different SD-WAN solutions offer varying levels of these benefits.

SD-WAN is leading the charge in taking today's modern network into the next generation. The simplified management and operation, reduced costs, increased visibility, and security make SD-WAN an attractive option for many businesses looking to achieve both operational agility and cost management efficiency.

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