Software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) is a cloud-based wide area network (WAN) architecture that allows businesses to connect users and branch offices to critical applications securely and efficiently.
An SD-WAN network connectivity solution can bring significant agility and cost-saving benefits to organizations versus a traditional WAN architecture or managed multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) solution.
As noted by premier networking and SD-WAN vendor and GTT partner, Cisco, many companies have seen triple-digit returns on investment and double-digit operational savings as examples of the achievable benefits of SD-WAN.
SD-WAN technology provides these benefits through the implementation of:
- Secure, real-time network traffic management
- Centrally managed, user-defined control policies
- Separation of applications from underlying network infrastructure via a cloud-enabled, policy-based overlay
With an SD-WAN solution, centralized application and routing policies use real-time visibility and network performance monitoring for the optimization of critical applications and delivery paths. This dynamic optimization is agnostic of network transport type (e.g., internet broadband, MPLS, VPNs, mobile connectivity) and performed via intelligent routing.
In this article, we will review the high-performance SD-WAN solution components along with seven key benefits of SD-WAN technology delivered by managed service providers like GTT:
- Enhanced business performance
- Cloud-based capabilities
- Assistance in managing network costs
- Reliable security
- Improved business agility
- Seamless integration within SASE
- Centralized infrastructure management
7 Key Benefits of SD-WAN Technology
Businesses, and their users, are dependent on networks that are becoming increasingly more complex to manage. The combination of secure access to business-critical applications, the need for enhanced cybersecurity, network performance, reaching (and securing) remote sites/branch offices, and quality of service commitments require organizations, including governments, to invest in SD-WAN solutions.
SD-WAN provides a manageable, software-defined network (SDN) fabric for the complicated mosaic of IT and operational challenges faced by organizations today. Flexibility, speed, security, and cost control are all inherent benefits of SD-WAN technology.
Enhanced Business Performance
SD-WAN provides the digital transformation necessary to enhance any network-reliant business, especially those with branch locations, multi-cloud connectivity, and reliable, market-driven application performance needs. Industries that stand to benefit greatly from SD-WAN adoption include, but are not limited to:
- Financial services
- Event management
- Speed to market
- Data growth
- Network latency
- Cybersecurity risks
- Decentralized operational support
- Application performance
- Site and service provisioning
Traditional router-based WAN architectures backhaul network traffic from branch offices to a business’s data center, primarily for security purposes. This can severely impact the performance of cloud applications (e.g., MS365, Dropbox, Salesforce) as traffic is then routed from the data center to the cloud.
SD-WAN solves this bandwidth and latency impact with its ability to route traffic efficiently and securely to its destination, based on prescribed overlay control policies. Effectively, SD-WAN and its software-defined networking capabilities transform a typical router-based data center-centric model into a seamless, secure cloud-based routing and orchestration fabric.
Effective Cost Management Solution
A key benefit of implementing an SD-WAN solution across an enterprise is the cost-savings associated with it versus a traditional MPLS-based WAN. These capital and expense savings are both hard and soft (direct and indirect) as referenced by Cisco, Juniper, and other networking vendors:
- SD-WAN supports lower-cost transport types (e.g., retail internet connections, mobility/LTE/5G, VPNs) as compared to expensive, dedicated MPLS connections.
- SD-WAN remote site/branch office customer premise equipment (CPE) is less complex and less costly if not MPLS. (vCPE and virtual firewall software are also supported by SD-WAN.)
- SD-WAN help desk operations and network management are more efficient and less costly as a result of cloud-based automation, centralized routing, and security policies, and reduced backhauling of network traffic.
In addition to networking vendor projections, an IDC survey reflected an expected SD-WAN cost savings of up to 39% by a quarter of its respondents, with two-thirds estimating 5-19% savings. No matter what your expectations may be, maximizing managed service providers such as GTT Communications can help navigate all aspects of your deployments.
The proliferation of network and application security threats across enterprises is endless. And even though traditional MPLS networks are relatively secure, managing them consistently across multiple endpoints (remote sites, branch offices, data centers) and multiple network appliances is an expensive and error-prone task. Likewise, as MPLS circuits and networks grow, so do the potential security risks and the associated operational challenges to mitigate them.
SD-WAN provides a reliable level of security by encrypting and tunneling traffic to data with the ability to layer additional firewalls and security options to create an integrated cloud solution. SD-WAN security, across a vast enterprise of WAN connections, is a critical benefit for businesses dependent on cloud services and apps.
Improved Business Agility
Businesses will benefit from SD-WAN’s flexibility, especially if they implement WAN networks that are:
With its cloud-based automation and centralized orchestration, SD-WAN can seamlessly accommodate site-by-site hybrid WAN designs and various network architecture combinations. The inherent agility of an SD-WAN solution allows businesses to quickly grow and adapt to market conditions without sacrificing network integrity or security.
Seamless SASE Integration
Secure access service edge (SASE) is cybersecurity for protected and secure networking in the cloud. It does this by offering companies a single, centralized view of their network. A SASE solution is complementary to and aligns WAN capabilities with robust security functions such as:
- Secure web gateway (SWG)
- Cloud access security broker (CASB)
- Zero Trust network access (ZTNA)
- Firewall as a service (FWaaS)
A leading research and advisory firm, Gartner, expects that by 2025, 80% of enterprises will have adopted a strategy to unify web, cloud services, and private application access using this security-centric architecture. Managed service providers such as GTT Communications can implement SASE solutions for businesses that want to secure their businesses with an SD-WAN architecture as an integrated component of their cybersecurity framework.
Centralized Infrastructure Management
A key benefit of SD-WAN is the centralized orchestration of connectivity and applications it brings which allows businesses to greatly simplify their WAN operations. The centralized management of business policies and configurations across locations enables true simplicity, and security, at the enterprise scale versus traditional MPLS WAN architectures.
With its centralized cloud management, SD-WAN offers organizations the ability to grow their business and expand their networks with ease and confidence. Simple, scalable connectivity is achieved with an SD-WAN solution from managed service providers such as GTT.
Reap the Benefits of an SD-WAN Solution With GTT
Businesses are dependent on complex networks that are becoming increasingly more complicated to manage. The combination of secure access to business-critical applications, the need for enhanced cybersecurity, the importance of complete network reliability, secure access to and from remote sites/branch offices, and quality of service commitments requires organizations to invest in high-performance solutions such as SD-WAN.
SD-WAN provides a manageable, software-defined network (SDN) fabric for the complicated mosaic of IT and operational challenges faced by organizations today. Flexibility, speed, security, and cost control are all inherent benefits of SD-WAN technology. GTT can deliver those benefits to your business. Contact us today to learn more.
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