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How Networking Became an SD-WAN World

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SD-WAN is such a ubiquitous and integral part of our networking lexicon that it is easy to forget it is a relatively new concept. Networkcomputing.com first brought the term into broad discussion with their coverage of the topic in 2014. And yet, five years later, the SD-WAN benefits are so great and apply so broadly that they impact almost every area of today's networks. Frankly, any new large networking endeavor should start with the solution that will include a type of SD-WAN (or preferably Managed SD-WAN) functionality.

(Related: Why Managed SD-WAN instead of self-operated? Learn more about Managed SD-WAN vs. SD-WAN here or just read more on Why SD-WAN is the right choice.) 

So how did SD-WAN come to dominate modern distributed networking? Here are the biggest reasons.

Cost Savings in Technology and Management

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Looking at MPLS vs. SD-WAN, the switch from a SD-WAN solution brings lower cost and higher capacity broadband circuits which can supplement or ultimately displace expensive MPLS circuits. Switching to SD-WAN can double the benefits, providing desperately needed increases in bandwidth while also driving down per MBPS costs.

Our recent Managed SD-WAN work with customers shows a typical saving of 33% on circuit costs when adopting a hybrid network approach by using broadband circuits to meet growing bandwidth capacity needs. This is the type of SD-WAN solution may be right for your enterprise if you want to make gradual moves to full SD-WAN usage.

EIQ Research has estimated that the management savings realized when adopting an SD-WAN solution is nine percent of total IT management spending. By centralizing network management through the SD-WAN management plane, normalizing the management practices away from specialized command line coding, and automating the review and distribution of updates, you can start to understand why SD-WAN is the networking answer. All of these demonstrate how Managed SD-WAN can help to drive down overall network management costs.

Additionally, the automated review and distribution of site changes provided by SD-WAN reduce service desk costs by 21% according to EIQ Research. With the dual-path stability in place to prevent brown-outs and black-outs reduce service desk trouble tickets, and reduction of tickets leads to reduction of expenses.

Improved Network Performance: Think Five Nines Uptime

The optimized deployment of dual-circuit networks delivers an immense improvement in overall network availability. One of our customers, using dual-wired broadband connections, achieved 99.999% uptime, an almost impossible achievement at branch locations using pre- SD-WAN networking tools. The combination of improved availability and greater end-to-end visibility of network performance allows organizations to deliver. A Managed SD-WAN network can provide application assurance, has the ability to monitor and refine networks to deliver specific performance parameters, and adjusts network attributes to ensure a consistent and positive user experience. This is the next step beyond QoS, this is QoE or Quality of Experience.

The system-ized management and operational controls of SD-WAN greatly reduce the likelihood of human error impacting network operations and creates a more agile and resilient network, thereby reducing network faults and providing early identification and easier corrective responses to network issues. This is the SD-WAN solution: experience immense improvement in overall network availability with the optimized deployment of dual-circuit networks. 

Improved Security

The same management features that allow for fine-grained controls and common policy deployment for network behavior also allow for improvements with SD-WAN security. Most secure SD-WAN solutions will offer a robust security layer, providing for system wide management and control of the SD-WAN security settings. This allows for centralized management, system validation of the settings and changes, and automated deployment to ensure consistency and timing that minimizes impact on branch operations.

Many SD-WAN solutions also come with integrated security elements, like a Next Generation Firewall (NGFW) and Unified Threat Management (UTM) suite. These security solutions, designed to work in conjunction with the networking tools, ensure that deployment of a next generation network comes ready right out of the box. In order to meet all the networking and security needs of the organization, it's time to let your secure SD-WAN work for you.

Given how far we’ve come in just five short years, it is certainly conceivable that in just a few more, SD-WAN will be assumed in any future network deployment. And we may even do away with the term, recognizing that every network is an SD-WAN network.

 

About the Author

 

Jeff Bradbury works across markets to help distributed organizations identify trends that are driving digital transformation and adopt technologies critical to connecting their customers, employees, and locations.