What is SD-WAN and how can your organisation benefit from it?
Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) is an overlay connectivity option that functions with the utilization of broadband internet, 4G/LTE or MPLS access. SD-WAN holds a lot of opportunity for enterprises that use cloud computing for enhancing their technological and competitive advantage. Nowadays most businesses are moving towards greater use of the IaaS and SaaS applications in the cloud and have discovered that the user experience is quite low. This can be blamed on the fact that the WAN technologies are not capable of handling the huge traffic explosion that cloud platforms bring.
The terrible user experience causes several other problems such as complexity in management, vulnerability of the data stored and unpredictability in the performance of the application. When control has been centralized in the cloud platform and its various functions are combined together, customers gain more flexibility in the performance of the cloud platforms. When SD-WAN is delivered as a service, we have the opportunity to consume networking as a service, just like the cloud services.
What are the benefits associated with SD-WAN?
- Simplifying the management of networks: As SD-WANs are controlled via software, it becomes easier to add the features and functions from a central location while reducing the need for edge appliances such as WAN Optimization and firewall boxes. Also, when SD-WAN is delivered as a service, it is possible to deploy a global enterprise WAN without needing to source and provide MPLS providers around the world.
- Faster application performance: SD-WAN has WAN optimization built into it. This helps to improve the performance of all the applications which might be hosted on-premise or on the cloud. When SD-WAN as a service is delivered over a private network, the response time of the application for different users can be realized. These users can be anywhere in the world. Response time realization further allows to side-step the problems that affect the performance of the SD-WANs that might be using the internet transport.
- Security simplified: SD-WAN delivers greater user experience than MPLS, by delivering the applications in minutes and simplifying the deployment of the WAN network. Business organizations can securely connect the users to the applications and protect the user data from the WAN edge to the cloud using lesser bandwidth in the process.
Where are the legacy WAN structures falling short?
There are numerous reasons that have contributed to the downfall of the legacy WANs and we have highlighted some of them below:
- Lack of adaptability to Cloud and SaaS: MPLS, having been developed much before the onset of the Cloud and SaaS services, only provides service to a small portion of the cloud and SaaS services that are available today. On the other hand, SD-WANs can be used to directly access most of the cloud/SaaS services.
- Expensive and complexity in usage: For all the WAN needs, MPLS has provided consistent service for more than two decades. However, for the modern day needs, MPLS is too expensive and harder to modify according to the needs of the businesses. SD-WAN, on the other hand, helps to address both of these issues, thus being more effective in solving the cloud computing issues that arise.
- Additional hardware requirement: In order to overcome the limitations associated with MPLS, business enterprises usually have to procure and deploy the WAN optimization applications that help them to achieve the desired performance level for the applications. Maintaining additional hardware counteracts the need to simply the WAN and creates solutions that are easily portable.
Two approaches to use SD-WAN and which one is right for your business?
Not all SD-WANs are developed equally and each affects the application performance in a different way. Below we highlight the differences between the two approaches to use SD-WAN.
- Internet based SD-WAN: The most common approach undertaken by people includes making use of the public internet to complement the legacy infrastructure such as MPLS. While public internet is adequate for some specific regions, in case of longer links that connect international locations, it is prone to congestion and packet loss, which in turn affects the performance of the MPLS. This is especially the case for SaaS/cloud applications that are hosted halfway across the world.
- SD-WANs that use the public internet are acceptable for regional deployments when the end-users are accessing the cloud/SaaS applications in the same geographical area. But when there is an increase in the distance, the user experience will deteriorate significantly
- Global SD-WAN: When there is a need to ensure the best performance for the applications all over the world, IT leaders trust the global SD-WAN network. All of the next generation enterprises rely on private networks for long-distance transport and make it possible to deliver the performance that is required. The global SD-WAN can be provided from anywhere in the world, whether on-premise or on the cloud. Since the global SD-WAN solution is predictable, it takes guesswork out of the equation and retains the agility and management options that are common to SD-WANs.
SD-WAN provides a new approach to your business by including cloud computing and helps to lower the operational cost of the businesses. SD-WAN also helps to improve the resource usage for multi-site deployments. The savings that are realized from SD-WAN can help to pay for any infrastructure upgradation that might be required by the business enterprise. Companies can invest the excess amount to bring out new business innovations that can help to further the business prospects at a time.