As global connectivity becomes more and more important to businesses across all industries, there’s a growing need for more efficient IT solutions. Businesses of all sizes seek out faster, more reliable technologies to minimize downtime and maximize productivity.
Among the most important aspects of business-related, IT is the WAN or wide area network. As the amount of data transferred across the network increases, it becomes more evident that traditional WAN solutions may no longer be able to keep up with the pace. For many businesses, SD-WAN is the next step to achieving better connectivity.
SD-WAN in a Nutshell
SD-WAN stands for software-defined wide-area network. The SD-WAN fabric overlay features the integration of SDN or software-defined networking technology to WAN connections that link different offices and data centers distributed throughout a wide area. Instead of using special hardware dedicated to managing the WAN, SD-WAN solutions rely mostly on cloud and software technology to ensure connectivity.
By removing the hardware aspect of a traditional WAN, SD-WAN solutions allow businesses to overcome a few key challenges that they have to deal with just to maintain a reliable network.
- Expensive Bandwidth Cost – Traditional WAN relied on leased connections such as MPLS to transport data at a consistent level. The more connections are needed, the higher the costs get. The cost of acquiring extra connections just to keep up with the increasing demand for more bandwidth can quickly add up and become a major liability later on.
SD-WAN instead is a fabric overlay that automatically directs information using multiple transport options, including MPLS, VSAT, 4G, and other internet connections. This means it’s possible to handle higher bandwidths with fewer leased MPLS connections, freeing up resources for other aspects of the business.
- Security Risks – Traditional WAN solutions rely on hardware located in each branch office. Each appliance is a possible point of vulnerability, which can be easily tampered with. Businesses with more branches face a greater risk of their network being compromised because the network has more security points that can be breached.
SD-WAN solutions use cloud-based security systems designed to help detect attacks from any point of the network. A series of malware protection and segmentation services makes SD-WAN technology capable of minimizing the attack surface by isolating any compromised segments of the network, while the cloud-based control system means IT administrators will have an easier time accessing the network and tracking down the cause of security breaches.
- Network Complications – Traditional WAN solutions often require a complex infrastructure consisting of a wide variety of devices connected to each other. Each of these devices has a chance to malfunction, which can lead to network problems. The more extensive the WAN, the more devices are required, making network management more complicated than necessary.
SD-WAN solution makes it possible to establish a WAN with minimal hardware and a more simple network infrastructure, making it easier for IT to keep things running smoothly. Any issues with the network are quickly identified and addressed accordingly to maximize efficiency and minimize downtime.
- Slow, Expensive Scaling – Scaling up can be a major challenge for businesses relying on traditional WAN solutions. Any changes to the infrastructure will often involve manually configuring almost every single device connected to the WAN. Expanding the network to a new location can take weeks or even months to complete, not to mention the huge costs associated with buying hardware and the cost of manpower required to make the proper configurations.
Expanding the network with SD-WAN solutions is as simple as having the devices transported to the new site. From there, the devices only have to download the necessary keys, certificates, and policies directly from the cloud, drastically reducing expansion time and the amount of resources required.
Although SD-WAN technology has yet to become the standard for businesses, it’s only a matter of time before companies learn to appreciate the key benefits it provides over traditional WAN solutions.