For SMBs with small IT teams, SD-WAN offers next-generation connectivity without the headaches

Small and medium businesses (SMBs) or organisations with small IT teams stand to benefit significantly from adopting cloud services, which offer rapid access to cutting-edge services and applications with minimal effort, time, and cost. Yet the transition can be difficult, since most companies have relied on conventional asymmetric Internet services that can’t deliver the performance and manageability that cloud services require.

A growing understanding of these limitations is driving strong takeup of software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) technology and services, which are being rapidly embraced for their robust design, flexibility and management capabilities.

SD-WANs are popular in general, but for smaller IT teams they are particularly attractive because they resolve many of the challenges that a full cloud transition introduces, such as the challenges of management and the cost of connectivity.

Reports consistently suggest that WAN costs consume a significant proportion of a typical company’s operational IT expenses. As digital transformation drives a deeper dependency on cloud-based services like Microsoft Office 365 and Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS)-based services and Google cloud services, these costs will likely rise further with increased cloud usage.

Another shortcoming of existing WAN services lies in their lack of flexibility. Cloud services may be built to scale with surges in demand, but many businesses are accessing them with WAN services that cannot do the same. This is likely to turn existing WANs into a bottleneck during peak times – when they’re needed the most – potentially creating service interruptions and business losses.

These risks are among the key reasons why SD-WAN technology makes sense for smaller businesses. By providing cost-effective flexibility, SD-WAN services can match the requirements of the cloud while reducing the need for costly legacy WAN services.

And because they are managed completely in software, SD-WAN services can be easily packaged into service bundles that allow the transfer of all monitoring and management of their cloud connections to managed service providers.

This model is particularly well suited to resource-constrained businesses, which can access cutting-edge WAN services without requiring in-house expertise or expensive full-time network managers. Instead, they simply pay for the service they need and leave it to their managed service provider to ensure they have the bandwidth, security, and reliability they need.

SD-WAN’s benefits for such companies extend beyond network management: because SD-WAN equipment can be managed from anywhere, it makes administration of branch office equipment much easier.

When a business opens a new branch office, for example, an SD-WAN router can be shipped to that branch office and automatically configured to securely link into the business network – without requiring expensive technical staff to be onsite. If staff can plug a device into a power point and an Ethernet cable into the router, they can bring the new office online.

The benefits of SD-WAN become apparent immediately, and the architecture continues to deliver long after it’s installed. That’s why it’s a good idea for smaller businesses to talk with their managed service provider about how SD-WAN capabilities can help them to embrace the cloud faster, and improve the management of their business-critical WAN.

Andoni Salvador
Author Name: Andoni Salvador

Andoni Salvador is a Network Solutions Architect at NTT Communications ICT Solutions (NTT ICT) with over 14 years’ experience in the IT industry. He thrives on working closely with customers to understand their business requirements and technology environment, then designing a robust network solution that is fit for purpose.

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Added 5 March 2018

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