By Rob Price
As businesses look to adopt new applications in multiple clouds, the traditional WAN (wide-area network) function no longer works in this cloud-centric world. In recent years, IT has realised that user application experience does not meet expectations, and technology is becoming quickly outdated with the rise in traffic that cloud adoption brings.
Application performance is unpredictable, data is vulnerable management of traffic is becoming more complex, and opening the network to cloud and the Internet exposes major threats and compliance issues. Now more than ever is the time to consider a new network model. Software-Defined WAN (SD-WAN) addresses these challenges.
Here are the top five reasons why your business should leverage SD-WAN:
Conventional WAN technologies have largely been based on private network bearers, such as MPLS, and have been provided by service providers. With the advent of SD-WAN, we can now implement a software based “overlay”, which allows us far greater flexibility in our choice of “underlay” bearer technologies. You may continue to use some of your existing WAN bearers, such as MPLS, but may supplement, or indeed, completely replace these with much less expensive internet-based technologies, such as broadband and 5G. Indeed, any suitable bearer technology can be employed, and controlled by the SD-WAN overlay.
Many of the services our customers now deploy are cloud based, and internet facing. With a conventional WAN, user traffic from remote / branch locations is typically routed across the WAN to a core location, and then broken out via the corporate DMZ to the internet to access the cloud-based service. It makes little sense to route traffic over the WAN to the core, only to then break it out to the internet. SD-WAN addresses this issue by allowing traffic from branch / remote locations to be broken out locally and sent directly to the internet. This gives you high availability, with a more predictable service.
Think of SD-WAN like a sat-nav. Before technologies like Waze and Google Maps, you would get in your car and always drive the same route to your destination. This approach will get you where you want to go, however you might encounter traffic that you weren’t aware of or be forced to take a particular route if the road was blocked. Nowadays, most people will route their journey via some form of GPS, which will give alternative routes to take and avoid congested traffic, making the journey much quicker and more seamless.
Perhaps a slightly less well understood aspect of SD-WAN is the ability to extend the SD-WAN fabric to create connections directly into public cloud (both IaaS and SaaS) environments and apply consistent policy to cloud workloads. You can also use real-time analytics to steer users over the best-performing path for optimal application performance.
Whilst most organisations associate the WAN with site-to-site connectivity, with SD-WAN we can also extend the fabric to support Enterprise Class Teleworkers (ECT). These users would then get the benefit of secure Direct Internet Access (DIA), allowing optimised access to cloud based applications and services. In addition, it is perfectly feasible for an ECT user to utilise multiple network paths, providing both performance and resilience benefits.
Currently, many home users have only a single path (usually broadband), however the advent of 5G will bring these multipath benefits to a far greater number of users. In a post-COVID world, where flexible working will inevitably become “normal”, these capabilities will be highly valuable as they can increase productivity and improve efficiency, while enabling zero-touch deployment and manageability.
Security is an ever-present concern for all organisations in the increasingly digital world in which we live, and the Internet can sometimes be seen as the “wild west”. Basing a significant proportion of your network on internet-based bearers will inevitably raise questions about security, and, of course, these need to be addressed. If your organisation is going to use the internet as a fundamental part of your communications strategy, then you need to make sure it’s secure.
The good news is that the industry is actively addressing these concerns. The concept of a Secure Access Services Edge (SASE) combining SD-WAN, multiple security platforms (Secure Web Gateway, DNS, Web Firewall, Endpoint protection, CASB, etc.) and Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) ensures that we remain as protected as possible from cyber threats.
SD-WAN is proving to be an increasingly popular choice amongst organisations who seek to optimise their wide-area environments in this ever-changing digital world. The last 12 months have proven that the world is constantly adapting and utilising newer technologies to deal with the response to the unexpected.
Logicalis offer a suite of technologies to address our customers connectivity needs, as well as a full set of supporting services, from pre-sales, design and implementation to optimisation and support. So, if you would like to learn more and speak to one of our experts, please get in touch via email: firstname.lastname@example.org today.