The way businesses communicate is changing quickly. Digital services are now a top priority for every firm, regardless of what sector they operate in. Many companies have turned to tools such as SD-WAN aligned with cloud computing to enhance their capabilities. Meanwhile, increased use of data-driven communications services, from Cloud telephony systems to video conferencing services to connect offices and remote workers around the world, help keep workers in touch wherever they are.
Therefore, the pressure on infrastructure networks is growing all the time. With more data being transferred than ever, outdated legacy solutions will struggle to keep up with today’s bandwidth requirements, which means firms should be looking for more effective ways of connecting their users and applications.
One option that’s increasingly common for many businesses is SD-WAN. According to research by Gartner, around 60 per cent of enterprises are set to adopt this technology by 2024, up from one in five at the end of last year. But many businesses may still be unsure of what benefits this offers and how to get the most out of it. So what do you need to know before going down this path?
What is SD-WAN?
SD-WAN stands for Software-Defined Wide Area Networking and is essentially a way of managing your networking infrastructure that focuses on centralised control and intelligent directing of traffic.
With a traditional WAN, end-users are connected directly to applications hosted on servers in the data centre, typically using dedicated MPLS circuits to guarantee security and reliability. But in today’s more complex, cloud-based environment, the limitations of this approach are becoming clear, with issues such as congestion and latency becoming more prevalent as bandwidth demands rise.
SD-WAN looks to solve congestion and latency challenges by separating the protocols from the underlying network and creating an overlay across your network. This allows it to use software to determine the most effective way of routing traffic based on factors such as data type and circumstances. This means individuals can connect directly with applications using whichever technology is most appropriate for their specific use-case.
SD-WAN offers many benefits to businesses, but they can be summed up as providing better performance, protection and cost-effectiveness than other alternatives. This means your network will benefit from much greater agility than would be possible with a traditional WAN, while also offering a significantly faster and secure approach to networking than tools such as MPLS.
SD-WAN is able to constantly monitor internet traffic and prioritise certain types of traffic (such as video conferencing) and select the most appropriate networking solution. Ensuring all parts of the network have enough bandwidth to run applications.
SD-WAN helps to Control Costs
SD-WAN helps keep costs under control by offering optimised data connectivity throughout your business network. Whereas other solutions will require remote locations to route through a central data centre using a ‘hub and spoke’ model, SD-WAN enables you to create direct connections between end-users and applications, whether these are on-premise or in the cloud.
In terms of security, most SD-WAN offerings can offer advantages over the likes of MPLS as they come with a range of Cyber Security features from network segmentation and encryption to intrusion prevention systems that are able to analyse traffic for threats.
SD-WAN is also ideal for environments where performance requirements can be challenging, unpredictable or need to be constantly monitored, such as video services that demand low latency. SD-WAN is able to constantly keep an eye on these applications, prioritise certain types of traffic and select the most appropriate networking solution.
This is something that’s especially important for firms using multicloud environments, as the complexity this introduces into the network can quickly overwhelm more traditional tools. What’s more, all of this can be easily managed from a centralised location, with firms able to set clear policies to meet tier unique requirements.
Making the right choice to ensure your firm’s future
However, despite these potential benefits, simply deploying an SD-WAN offering doesn’t automatically guarantee results. In fact, this technology can be quite loosely-defined, which means there are wide differences in capabilities between the various options on the market.
While you can find high-quality SD-WAN options that offer every feature you could possibly need, there are also many less-reputable services out there that are essentially SD-WAN in name only, lacking many of the key elements that define an effective solution, such as performance, intelligence and scalability.
Simply going for the most feature-packed option isn’t necessarily the right solution. Each offering will have its own unique benefits of functionality that may be more suited to some businesses than others. This means you need to take the time to carefully evaluate your capabilities when looking for a solution, and choosing a partner that understands both the technology and how it can be best applied to your unique business needs will be a must.
With the right help and advice, you can ensure your business is fully equipped to deal with the increasingly-complex demands of today’s networking environment. In the coming years digital services will become a necessity for almost every firm and multiple cloud solutions will be deployed as a matter of course.
As a result, having the right underlying infrastructure services will ensure you’re able to cope with whatever the future may have in store will be vital to the success of any firm, and for many this will mean an effective SD-WAN solution.