Connectivity is the virtual lifeline of the modern enterprise. Digital transformation is sweeping through practically every industry segment. And digital data is replacing conventional files and folders.
With digitization, we’re witnessing an accelerated demand for fast, secure, and seamless network solutions to transfer data, connect distributed office locations and provide reliable and seamless access to cloud applications and SaaS-based products.
Moreover, most enterprises now have hybrid, distributed workforces and must provide reliable connectivity to support remote workers and on-site employees.
In this scenario, Enterprise Managed SD-WAN is transforming how organizations deploy, manage, and monitor distributed networks across several office locations. It is a cost-effective way to connect employees, partners or vendors and provide seamless access to business-critical resources and applications.
In this article, we review how enterprises benefit from adopting SD-WAN and how GTT’s Enterprise Managed SD-WAN services elevate network management capabilities to deliver reliable and secure connectivity to distributed office locations.
What Is Managed Enterprise SD-WAN?
Software-defined Wide Area Network, or SD-WAN, is a next-gen evolution of traditional WAN networks. It uses software to monitor and control access to diverse public and private networks and cloud environments across an enterprise’s distributed office locations.
It provides IT teams with centralized control and complete visibility across the organization’s entire network infrastructure. But what really sets SD-WAN apart is that it can intelligently route traffic through optimal data paths and prioritize network traffic to mission-critical resources.
It allows enterprises to optimize network paths, reduce bandwidth costs, and enhance application performance while providing integrated network security measures. Tier 1 ISPs like GTT Communications provide SD-WAN services that create the foundation needed for seamless Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) integration.
Enterprises across various industry sectors are adopting SD-WAN solutions as a cost-effective way to connect branch offices to data centers and various cloud-based applications. SD-WAN finds compelling use cases in enterprises from retail and manufacturing to healthcare and finance.
Key differences between Enterprise SD-WAN & Traditional WAN
The evolution of network management from WAN to SD-WAN represents a giant leap forward for enterprises.
Let’s look at the key differences between them that lead to a more agile, efficient and responsive network infrastructure.
- Traditional WAN depends on physical hardware like routers, servers, and cables to control and manage network traffic. With network management tied to physical infrastructure, making changes is cumbersome and time-consuming.
- SD-WAN employs virtual overlays that operate on top of the existing WAN network infrastructure. This virtual layer can be easily managed without physical changes to hardware components like wires or router switches. This allows for remote management of the networks from a centralized location and truly revolutionizes how enterprises manage distributed networks.
- WAN architecture relies on manual configuration changes, which are susceptible to human errors and inconsistencies. SD-WAN technology enables real-time, automated configuration changes. This reduces the risk of human error, saves time and also enhances network reliability and minimizes potential disruptions.
- Traditional WANs face challenges when it comes to integrating with cloud services. When WAN connects to the cloud, there is a resultant backhauling of traffic—that is, cloud-bound traffic is routed back to the data center before being sent to its intended cloud destination. This leads to a delay in packet transmission, slowing down application performance and negatively impacting user experience.
- SD-WAN eliminates backhauling. It efficiently routes traffic directly to cloud services, reduces latency and optimizes the performance of cloud-based apps.
We’re seeing an upsurge in enterprises adopting SD-WAN technology. However, many companies face challenges in implementing and managing SD-WAN with their in-house IT teams.
That’s where a Managed Services Provider or MSP plays a pivotal role in bridging a skill gap or providing a missing link to smoothen out the process of moving to SD-WAN. According to a report by Enterprise Management Associates, which surveyed 313 IT professionals, the number of enterprises opting for managed SD-WAN increased from 62% in 2020 to more than 66% in 2023.
Here’s what Shamus McGillicuddy, Vice President of Research at EMA, had to say: “One thing we’ve seen over the years is a continuing shift toward consuming software-defined WAN as a managed service.”
Managed SD-WAN implies that the enterprise outsources the management and day-to-day operations of the entire network infrastructure (including hardware and software) to a third-party service provider.
The EMA report shows that nearly 50% of respondents who chose managed SD-WAN quoted network assurance as their top reason for their choice.
Other reasons include:
- Cost savings
- Existing relationships with service providers
- Ease of integration to Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) services from the same MSP
The Benefits of Managed Enterprise SD-WAN
Managed Enterprise SD-WAN provides automation, centralization and flexibility, which creates a more agile and cost-effective way of managing distributed networks.
Let’s take a deeper look at some of the benefits of SD-WAN:
Centralized network management
Managed Enterprise SD-WAN offers a virtualized network management architecture. A centralized controller manages network traffic regardless of the geographical location of each of your offices. IT administrators can control and configure the entire network from a single, intuitive software interface. They can implement changes across the entire network by tweaking the virtual layer.
Centralized orchestration allows you to enforce policies consistently across all your office locations. It also reduces the complexity of managing separate WANs and minimizes the potential for errors.
Enterprises are constantly evolving—your organization may open a new branch or employ more remote workers. And your network must keep pace! Thanks to its virtualization approach, Managed SD-WAN allows for easy scaling without the need for extensive hardware investments or time-consuming reconfigurations. It provides flexibility and empowers your organization to adapt to changing business needs.
Enterprise networks are highly vulnerable to cyber-attacks. With higher adoption of cloud-based applications, your organization’s security perimeter is no longer limited to a particular data center or server.
Managed Enterprise SD-WAN integrates robust security features directly into the network architecture. This includes end-to-end encryption, traffic segmentation and the ability to enforce security policies consistently across all locations. Centralization makes it easy to enforce security policies from the central controller to the entire network via an application program interface (API).
Enterprise Managed SD-WAN saves costs in various ways. For one, its intelligent automation dynamically routes traffic to the optimal path at a given time. It considers real-time factors such as latency, jitter, and packet loss to switch to a different path, whether it is a broadband internet, 5G/LTE, Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) or a private network.
It features application-aware routing, which ensures that high-priority applications get the resources they need while conserving bandwidth for lower-priority applications.
For example, it will switch to expensive but highly reliable MPLS connectivity for high-priority applications like video conferencing. The system will switch to a low-cost network connection like 5G/LTE for less critical applications or activities requiring less bandwidth, such as emails or file transfers.
Maximize business performance
Managed SD-WAN from an experienced MSP ensures consistent and reliable network performance across all locations. It reduces latency and gives users an experience of high performance for cloud apps. This helps distributed teams to collaborate more effectively in real-time.
Guaranteed uptime, fast speed and seamless cloud connectivity enhance your team’s productivity, improve customer experience and help your team function efficiently to achieve their business goals.
Reduced manual intervention
SD-WAN offers zero-touch provisioning allowing you to set up a network in a new branch office virtually without any IT involvement. It is a wizard-like process that automatically configures your network device as soon as it is connected without any manual intervention.
What To Look For in a Managed Enterprise SD-WAN Service
Once you have decided to outsource your network services management to a partner, the next step is to determine how to choose the ideal partner.
Here are some pointers to help you select the right Managed SD-WAN service:
Seamless integration capabilities
When evaluating a network services provider, ensure that the SD-WAN solution they provide will seamlessly integrate with your existing network infrastructure, including routers, firewalls, switches and other networking components. This will not just prove cost-effective but will also ensure a smooth transition without unnecessary disruption to the existing WAN networks across all your offices.
Discuss the expected Quality of Service (QoS) your enterprise expects and clearly articulate it in a Service Level Agreement (SLA), as this will give you a baseline to measure the service provider’s performance.
Reliable internet access is not the only thing your end-users want. Your IT administrators expect a user-friendly interface to manage and control. And your employees want a seamless experience with no downtime.
Ensure your Managed SD-WAN provider sets down custom rules to prioritize your business-critical apps and services. Review the SD-WAN solution to ensure that automated failover will provide uninterrupted network connectivity and application performance for a positive user experience.
Enhanced security assurance
Review the SD-WAN solution to ensure it provides robust security features such as end-to-end encryption, threat detection and access controls. It should also provide the ability to segment network traffic, ensuring that sensitive data remains protected and compliance standards are met. Furthermore, you’ll want to verify that your SD-WAN solution meets compliance should your industry require it. Find out if the service provider also provides an integrated SASE platform for a seamless convergence of cutting-edge SD-WAN technologies with cloud-based security.
Elevate Your Managed Enterprise SD-WAN Network With GTT
Are you ready to take the next step to elevate your network management to maximize business performance?
GTT offers cutting-edge Managed Enterprise SD-WAN Services for internet connectivity with unparalleled reliability and coverage.
Combining innovative technology with flawless service, we deliver a comprehensive solution that aligns perfectly with your business goals.
Reach out to our Managed SD-WAN experts today and discover how our Managed SD-WAN services drive efficiency and maximize your business performance.