Can SD-WAN take digital transformation to the next level?

Software-Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WAN) is becoming increasingly important for businesses as they overcome legacy issues and supercharge their commercial aspirations for the future.
27 December 2018

SD-WAN and its importance to businesses. Source: Shutterstock

As Socrates once said, the secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.

So, in terms of enterprise technologies these days, Software-Defined Wide Area Networks (SD-WAN) is becoming an increasingly important topic for businesses as they try to overcome legacy issues and supercharge their commercial aspirations for the future.

Some have said that 2019 could be the year of SD-WAN. It’s a disruptive time for companies the world over, and perhaps the most significant element in play is the migration of infrastructure to the cloud, in computing terms.

Hosting mission-critical and real-time applications via the adoption of Software as a Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is now becoming commonplace, as organizations look to unshackle business executions and boost productivity.

Most of the decision makers and IT managers are turning towards SD-WAN technologies to become ‘business-first networking models’, where companies can liberate applications to realize the full transformational promise of the cloud.

With IDC predicting that the SD-WAN infrastructure market is poised to hit US$4.5 billion by 2022, organizations are modernizing their wide area networks to provide an improved user experience for a range of cloud-enabled applications.

Legacy network technologies like Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) are still prevalent in most companies globally, and they pose a huge challenge to companies, as setting up new sites in terms of business expansion initiatives can be a slow and laborious affair.

This is where SD-WAN comes into play, as this technology can help companies reduce costs via bandwidth savings.

A global SD-WAN that is fully managed will save CIOs and their enterprise a significant amount on network maintenance and management costs as well, so that IT resources can be tailored to match more business-critical missions.

Compliance issues is another facet of the issue that SD-WAN tackles well. A multi-layer security model can provide enterprise-grade network security, physical security and access control to mission-critical applications on the cloud.

Different geographies will require a disparate approach towards compliance standards, and companies will need to ensure their networks are also secure from any threats that may occur globally as well.

Fundamentally, the main focus behind SD-WANs today is the ability to deliver fast and reliable performance. In some cases, ‘Hybrid SD-WAN’ infrastructures can also supplement pricey and low bandwidth MPLS links with broadband, LTE, and satellite support.

MPLS legacy infrastructure has always been associated with long deployment timelines, high cost and lack of support for cloud access.

On the other hand, relying on congested public networks that have high packet loss rates and fluctuating latencies is also not the way forward.

Experts suggest that advanced SD-WAN platforms are on their way to provide a viable alternative and will simply and consistently segment network traffic across the wide area network to limit exposure and contain security threats as well.

Initial pockets of 5G deployment are expected to become an attractive addition to SD-WAN transport options, which include broadband access, direct internet access (DIA) and of course MPLS.

In fact, 5G could deliver a unique combination of fast deployment, diverse connectivity and high bandwidth that accelerates the adoption of broadband SD-WANs.

Perhaps 5G could also be looked at as the elusive ‘silver bullet’ that promises to revolutionize commercial networks, and accelerate productivity in businesses the world over.

As they say, your business is only as good as your network, at the end of the day.