When is SD-WAN right for my business?

Just like how virtualisation transformed the way we think of servers, SD-WAN is changing everything about today’s networks. But is it the right fit for your business needs?

Essentially, SD-WAN joins and manages the increasing variety of networking technologies in a single software layer, tying together everything from single- and multi-fibre networks to 4G and even traditional copper cables. That makes it ideal for managing today’s highly complex demands for bandwidth, performance, and security. If your business is encountering any of these five issues, chances are it’s the right time to start considering SD-WAN as a solution:

We’re running SaaS and demand is growing – fast.

SaaS and other real-time applications can be particularly sensitive to latency. By automatically recognising these applications and optimising their routing paths, SD-WAN can cut down latency and give users the best experience possible, even when demand surges at critical moments.

We need more capacity but we can’t afford it.

Because it lies on top of every networking technology, SD-WAN can generate economies of scale and extract more capacity from existing infrastructure. Sometimes that involves “right-sizing” traditional WAN technologies like MPLS to be more efficient, while at others it’ll mean redirecting traffic to alternative modes like 4G. With SD-WAN, all available underlay networks can be folded into the bandwidth pool, often unlocking bandwidth that the business didn’t know it had. In many cases, for example, businesses will have “backup” WAN links delivered to sites that aren’t being utilised.

We can’t guarantee performance with high certainty.

One of SD-WAN’s lesser-known benefits is redundancy. If one network path fails, SD-WAN can automatically reroute traffic down different routes, taking advantage of all the infrastructure at its disposal to ensure a smooth connection.

Our new sites don’t come online fast enough.

Setting up new sites typically involves installing complex infrastructure and policies over a long period. SD-WAN shortens deployment times by automating much of the provisioning and policy management that needs to take place. By leveraging Zero Touch Provisioning across a 4G network, as an example, a new site can be online within minutes of the device being powered on. That means not only faster site activation, but greater flexibility and control over the policies that manage these sites.

Our network’s constantly under threat.

SD-WAN helps secure networks in two main ways: encryption and segregation. As the overarching layer across all network infrastructure, SD-WAN can encrypt data from start to endpoint, greatly reducing the opportunities for malicious actors to gain access. And SD-WAN also enables businesses to quickly and flexibly segregate their network for different levels of security and management, irrespective of the hardware that’s in use.

Most, if not all businesses will already face at least some of the issues that SD-WAN can help alleviate. The technology doesn’t replace traditional WANs like MPLS, but helps IT get more performance and capacity without breaking current contracts or writing off past investments. And as demands on bandwidth, performance, and security continue to grow, SD-WAN will become an increasingly common part of IT’s toolkit. There’s no better time to run pilot programmes or test SD-WAN in your business than now.

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Author Name: Matthew Allen

Matthew Allen is Director of Product Development at NTT Communications in Australia. Matthew is responsible for defining the local product roadmap and strategy for NTT, encompassing data centres, networks and cloud services.

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Added 30 May 2017

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