Top 5 Reasons Businesses are Switching to SD-WAN
In a world where businesses are increasingly utilizing cloud and SaaS solutions, SD-WAN is proving to be the most appropriate approach for enterprise networking. For many businesses, traditional WANs no longer make sense in the rapidly advancing digital landscape. We see this trend reflected in the current market, where SD-WAN infrastructure is expected to have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 32.7% over the next 3 years. The leading growth factors include the emergence of cloud applications, lower capital expenditure (CAPEX) and operational expenditure (OPEX), and the rapid increase in mobile traffic data.
The inherent problems with SD-WAN were first managed with MPLS, a packet-forwarding technology that utilizes labels to make data forwarding decisions. While MPLS was widely adopted in the past, SD-WAN is rapidly overtaking it. SD-WAN is more flexible, has higher visibility, and is more powerful when it comes to managing traffic. For many in the field, the debate between SD-WAN and MPLS is now over. Research firm Gartner strengthened this position when they published their 2018 paper “SD-WAN Is Killing MPLS, So Prepare to Replace It Now”.
There are many benefits to SD-WAN over traditional WANs and MPLS, and it’s the realization of these benefits that is driving businesses to make the switch. In this article we discuss the top 5.
What is SD-WAN?
An SD-WAN is a software-defined wide area network. There are two primary types of networks: Local Area Network (LAN), and Wide Area Network (WAN). LANs are responsible for connecting devices within the office building, whereas WANs connect to infrastructure around the world. SD-WAN is an innovation in the networking space and considered the next generation of WANs. Put simply, SD-WAN utilizes software to make networks smarter, faster, and operate at a lower cost.
Traditional WANs consist of several routers (perhaps tens, hundreds, or even thousands) that communicate with each other over large distances. Each router is made up of a data plane and a control plane. The network administrator is responsible for writing commands for the control plane to tell the data plane how to manage traffic. This is incredibly time-consuming and prone to error. It also means that it can take anywhere from several hours to a week just to deploy new applications to all the network infrastructure managed by the business across their many sites. By contrast, SD-WAN works by connecting all sites to a centrally managed commodity. This means the control plane can be updated for several sites simultaneously, allowing for faster deployment of applications.
What Types of Businesses Can Benefit the Most from SD-WAN?
- Businesses that manage traffic between multiple sites. Particularly when a large amount of traffic is handled, and time delays have a huge impact (retail and banking sectors).
- Businesses with a reliance on SaaS or Cloud-based applications. Most digital businesses now rely on these solutions to thrive.
- Businesses with highly sensitive data that want to silo and protect this data with secure SD-WAN solutions. Businesses in the legal, education, government, health, or tech sectors stand out here.
- Businesses with legacy WANs that are struggling to keep up with modern IT infrastructure demands.
- Businesses with legacy WANs that have an excessively high CAPEX and OPEX cost.
Top 5 Reasons Businesses Are Migrating to SD-WAN
1. Reduced Costs
Provisioning traffic commands on SD-WANs takes a fraction of the time it would take on WANs or even MPLS. By transitioning to SD-WAN businesses can save money on the labor associated with these time-consuming tasks. SD-WANs are also cheaper to implement and maintain. WAN costs typically make up around 10% of the businesses’ IT budget. It’s estimated that SD-WAN could halve these costs.
2. Enhanced Performance
SD-WAN can be easily configured to prioritize business-critical or mission-critical traffic across all sites. This ensures that mission-critical applications are always working optimally, and efficiency is at the forefront of the network. This is done through the centralized control mechanism that determines the best route for the traffic, whether that traffic is 3G/4G/5G, MPLS, or broadband.
3. Increased Agility
Traditional WANs are not fit for a world where applications are hosted across several locations. Applications can be hosted in private or public clouds, in Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions, or an on-premise data center. With the traditional model (like hub and spoke), traffic has to travel a great distance back and forth, and in many cases this results in latency and poor performance issues. SD-WAN solves this problem by connecting all sites directly to the Internet and reducing reliance on sending traffic back to the regional office over private lines.
4. Network security
With SD-WAN mission-critical traffic can be separated from vulnerabilities that exist in other parts of the businesses’ network infrastructure. This is particularly crucial with the widespread adoption of cloud-based services like Office 365 and Amazon Web Services (AWS). These solutions require secure remote access and often host sensitive business data, making robust network security paramount.
5. Integration and Simplification of Network Infrastructure
Typically, traditional WANs need to add several value-add capabilities like Firewalls, DDOS protection, content filtering, IPS, and VPNs that may be deployed by separate vendors. These capabilities need to be consistently deployed across all routers which is time-consuming and prone to error. This can reduce the visibility of the whole network. With SD-WANs all capabilities can be deployed from a central location and greatly reduce the inherent friction involved in this activity. SD-WAN also makes managing networks much simpler due to the ability to see the whole network and deploy changes quickly.
Time to Switch?
SD-WAN is the future of networking for businesses of all sizes. The technology is already vastly improving traffic management in an increasingly online world. Businesses who adopt SD-WAN stand to benefit from increased security, enhanced performance, greater agility, and reduced costs.
With the accelerated adoption of cloud solutions and SaaS, SD-WAN will continue to be the most appropriate approach for enterprise networking. As we move to the future, SD-WAN will enjoy even greater prominence across the entire business landscape.
Outsource IT, specializes in helping organizations improve their user experiences and network performance through our secure SD-WAN solution. Contact your Outsource IT account manager to learn more.