Today’s businesses rely on connectivity for survival. Local area networks (LANs) connect devices in a single location, while wide area networks (WANs) connect LANs. However, WAN changes mean a reconfiguration of firewalls, routers, and switches located across town or around the world. Each device has an interface which means moving from application to application when making changes. Software-defined WANs allow those changes to happen programmatically, reducing the time and errors that can occur. In this guide we discuss the benefits of SD Wan and why an SD Wan solution can be good for your business.
What is SD-WAN?
Software-defined (SD) WAN solutions are part of software-defined networking (SDN) that supports different transport technologies. SD-WAN enables network administrators to reconfigure network resources and identify conflicts quickly to maintain optimal operations.
As enterprises grow, they need to connect localized networks, creating wider networks. Dynamic SD-WAN technology enables businesses to connect distributed networks and provide benefits such as:
- Better resiliency
- Improved performance
- Better end-user experience
- Improved security
- Comprehensive cloud management
- Alleviate network complexity
- Segment network traffic
SD-WAN uses overlays to connect LANs, so administrators can push policies from a central location to improve performance and end-user experiences.
SD Wan Benefits 1: Better Resiliency
With SD-WAN networks, organizations can build a more resilient infrastructure. Because SD-WAN does not share the limitations of traditional networks, it can ensure network availability and improved uptime. The technology provides direct links to shorten transit time.
SD-WAN technology supports multiple connectivity options, and it provides automatic switching to provide the best performance. It minimizes downtime because of performance failures. IT does not have to reconfigure connections when increased demand slows the network or lag times lengthen because bandwidth is consumed.
For retailers, a lost connection is a lost sale. With more people using cashless transactions, businesses need resiliency to maintain operations. With SD-WAN’s capabilities, 24/7 availability is possible. If one connection fails, the technology restructures to find a channel to support the traffic.
End-to-end visibility helps network administrators see network activity. They can identify and mitigate problems before they impact the network. Since most application outages begin with a network problem, complete visibility is key to resilient operations.
SD Wan Benefits 2: Improved Performance
As more people work remotely and companies deploy more internet of things (IoT) devices, network demands increase. A traditional network struggles to keep up with the always-changing traffic flow. SD-WAN technology can alleviate bottlenecks that impede network performance because changes occur programmatically.
Load-balancing improves network performance by distributing traffic over multiple links. It identifies upgrade paths for more bandwidth. Traditional networks may have degraded performance because of the round trips required to deliver content to the cloud. SD-WAN transports data directly to its endpoint, improving network operations.
For brick and mortar environments, network failures hurt the bottom line. It’s more than the inability to process payments. There’s lost time while employees wait for the connection to reestablish. If the failure occurs after hours, it can trigger a security alarm. The lost connection means someone has to contact the security company and possibly go to the building to meet with first responders.
Benefit 3: Better End-User Experience
End-user experiences include customers and employees. If employees cannot access network resources, they become frustrated and disgruntled. Productivity plummets. Customers have little patience for technology that is slow or fails to perform. SD-WAN features can help overcome challenges that can impact user experiences.
According to recent surveys by Owl labs and Global Workplace Analytics, about 15% of companies are fully remote. Nearly 65% of employees aged 22 to 65 work occasionally from home. Remote workers will continue beyond 2022, so companies must find ways to ensure network performance for better employee experiences.
Customer experience has expanded to include more than just in-store interactions. Digital interactions also play a part in how consumers judge enterprises. Slow connections create latency issues and jittering displays. Losing connectivity can be catastrophic. With SD-WAN, the technology is continuously monitoring connections to maximize uptime.
Benefit 4: Comprehensive Cloud Management
SD-WAN benefits include direct connections between endpoints and the cloud. With more employees working from home, the more direct the link, the faster the response. Employees don’t have to wait for apps to load or video frames to unfreeze.
With more visibility, administrators can see what may be causing transmission delays or data losses in real-time. Instead of waiting for employees to complain about slow performance, IT departments can fix the problem before anyone knows it existed.
Workloads can vary in hybrid work environments. What percentage of employees are working remotely? Will everyone be in the office at any time? Ensuring performance standards means rerouting traffic or prioritizing applications so critical operations do not suffer.
Traditional networks cannot optimize performance at such a discrete level. They lack the information needed to make those adjustments. With SD-WAN, businesses can adapt to changes in daily operations to improve user experiences.
Benefit 5: Improved Security
SD-WAN solutions connecting to cloud services can leverage advanced security features to support a distributed security model. These features can be applied at the edge for more robust network defenses. Guests can use a separate but secure wireless connection, minimizing the impact on internal operations.
SD-WAN also provides secure, encrypted tunneling across the platform. It can consolidate network and security functions so that companies can protect their endpoints. Given the increase in malware over encrypted connections, organizations need a stronger security posture that checks all traffic coming from endpoints.
What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of SD-WAN Solutions?
SD WAN benefits include all of the following:
- Configuration automation
- Connectivity in hybrid environments
- Direct internet connection
- Intelligent routing
- Distributed firewalls and security
- Enterprise Wan support
- Direct traffic around parts of an network
However, no technology is without challenges, and SD-WAN is no different.
- It has limited visibility in multi-vendor or multi-tenant environments because it cannot provide end-to-end visibility.
- It ignores the correlation of underlay and LANs, which can result in incompatibilities. SD-WAN relies on the underlays for performance stability.
- It may not consolidate the data maintained at different endpoints or transport channels, making it more difficult to understand what is happening across the enterprise.
- Its operational interface may be difficult to use as engineers originally designed it for engineers.
None of these challenges are insurmountable, but organizations need to ensure they are addressed before investing in SD-WAN solutions.
A 2020 survey of US companies found that:
- 52% of businesses have adopted some SD-WAN technology
- 79% of national corporations have implemented SD-WAN technology
- 77% of global enterprises undertaken SD WAN adoption
As the majority of businesses migrate to SD-WAN solutions, companies that lag behind will struggle to compete with the agility and flexibility of the SD-WAN experience. Isn’t time your business invested in SD-WAN?
SD Wan Vendors and Providers
There are several SD Wan providers that would be great options for your business. We list them in detail here. Some of those providers include:
- Crown Castle
- Aqua Blue
- Lightpath Fiber