What’s the big deal about SD-WAN?
Most IT leaders will know that SD-WAN is meant to be the “next big thing” of the networking world. Is that hyperbole justified? To an extent, yes – because SD-WAN makes it much easier and cheaper to manage the digital trends that are already transforming businesses worldwide.
SD-WAN stands for software-defined wide-area-networking. Put simply, the technology adds a software layer over your entire network, giving you more visibility and control over it than ever before. That, in turn, allows you to send different types of data through the most efficient and effective pathways at any given time. It doesn’t replace your fibre, copper, or 4G links, or even your traditional WAN technologies like MPLS and VPLS. Instead, it abstracts them away, allowing you to construct a centrally-managed network layer that looks after both access and WAN technologies.
SD-WAN matters because demand for bandwidth is growing faster than ever before. SaaS, once considered a disruptive innovation, is now an everyday part of most industries – just think of how mainstream Office 365 and Salesforce have become. The huge amounts of network traffic generated by mobile devices are about to be supplanted by that of the Internet of Things. And the security threats that networks face – from both malicious actors and human error – will continue to grow as these networks become more complex.
Most network infrastructure and WAN systems were built in the days when cloud meant an atmospheric phenomenon. They’re simply not designed to deal with the demand and complexity of today’s digital economy. That’s where SD-WAN comes in.
SD-WAN allows businesses to get much, much more out of existing network infrastructure. It automatically routes traffic based on application type and priority, reducing latency and improving the reliability of SaaS and other services – even when one segment of the network goes down. It optimises the bandwidth that’s available to the organisation, reducing reliance on traditional WAN architecture and moving capacity onto the Internet. And it can maintain the security of data at all points in the network, minimising incompatibilities and inconsistencies that may give malicious actors a means of ingress.
Essentially, SD-WAN is to networks what virtualisation was to servers, offering unprecedented levels of control, automation, and optimisation over all types of infrastructure. And like the cloud, businesses can expect it to become the norm as the connectivity demands of customers and their workforce continue to grow. That makes it a pretty big deal indeed – one which business leaders should be exploring sooner rather than later.