Sweeping changes are happening in the digital realm. As business models evolve, we see the need for network connectivity to change as well. This means improving the use of resources and performance levels while considering the ever-present need for tight security.

Wide Area Networking (WAN) and Software-Defined (SD) networking systems are integral to these modifications. If you are unfamiliar with these terms, now is the time to put together a functional skill set to help you work with SD-WAN.

What is SD-WAN?

The SD-WAN solution connects networks using software rather than traditional hardware. After measuring the traffic, it will find the best route for your data in real-time. A process is known as dynamic path selection. Using broadband and wide area networking connections makes this possible.

An SD-WAN solution makes it possible for businesses to connect to their main office as well as their remote locations. Connecting all sites to a central location in the cloud increases flexibility and enhances control.

SD-WAN makes setting up an internet connection at a new location unbelievably easy.

The Different Forms of SD-WAN Architectures

When setting up your SD-WAN system, you typically can choose from three options.

  1. On-Premises SD-WAN – If you are a company that hosts the majority of your business applications locally, on-prem SD-WAN could be your best option. The architecture can connect remote sites. However, it is not able to connect to cloud services. Having your SD-WAN set at your location can be significantly less expensive than the other architectures.
  2. Cloud-Enabled SD-WAN – As you may expect, this SD-WAN solution uses cloud gateways to communicate with your cloud applications.
  3. Cloud-Enabled Plus Backbone SD-WAN – Using the cloud-enabled plus backbone SD-WAN boosts your system by using the service provider’s nearest Point of Presence or POP. So, if the POP is a high-speed, fibre-optic line, you can expect a major enhancement.

What Types of Connections Does SD-WAN Support?

SD-WAN facilitates several connections, including,

  • Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) Broadband
  • Ethernet
  • Frame Relay WAN
  • High-speed Fibre-Optic Internet
  • Long-term Evolution (LTE)

SD-WAN requires less hardware, thereby reducing initial investments, additions or replacements.

Why Is SD-WAN Needed Now?

Today’s business and IT departments have some challenges they must face. At one time, MPLS circuits helped to guarantee security and consistent connectivity. However, in a cloud-centric world, this does not work. It is common for a business to have SaaS and IaaS applications in several clouds. This practice is inefficient and typically leads to a poor user experience.

Add to the previously mentioned factors,

  • The increase in access cost to have MPLS based bandwidth to support acceptable application performance
  • Increased complexity in branch deployment
  • Difficulties with traditional WAN permitting movement from private to public clouds
  • Cloud usage brings an excessive amount of traffic WAN cannot manage
  • Public clouds increase the unpredictability of app performance and the risk of data exposure
  • Allowing access to vital information can also move companies into non-compliance
  • Inefficient use of company resources if employee productivity decreases because of application performance
  • WAN expenses rise with the use of dedicated and backup circuits

How Can SD-WAN Benefit My Business?

Given the struggles your system likely experiences using traditional methods of connecting, SD-WAN can help your company in many ways.

  • Heightened Security for Your Network – Typical WAN offers acceptable security. However, in an age of increasingly evolved viruses and ransomware as well as skilled hackers, your business needs every security advantage available. SD-WAN provides end-to-end encryption. This controls who can access your data and protects your vital information. Additionally, you can add a firewall to cover your company with an extra layer of security.
  • Save Money – Using SD-WAN solutions for connectivity can lower your costs by allowing your company to use your connections at total capacity. This happens when SD-WAN combines MLPS WAN with broadband. The cost of using SD-WAN is much less than carrier-grade connections.
  • Enhanced Application Performance – Excellent app performance is a vital part of your business. Even your most loyal clients will not wait through delays for long. SD-WAN makes sure that the applications your business needs the most will get priority as it directs applications to connections.
  • Increased Speed – All of your systems and software need the correct amount of bandwidth to run efficiently. SD-WAN combines connections to make all of your apps operate at maximum capacity.
  • Scalability – When you begin deploying SD-WAN, you decide the scope of the solution. You do not need to pay for more than you need for efficient operation.
  • Greater Control of Your Traffic – SD-WAN gives you a bird’s-eye-view of your traffic. You can spot areas prone to slowing and make adjustments to improve performance. Additionally, you can track which applications use the most bandwidth and decide if changes are necessary.
  • Reliability – You can be sure that SD-WAN can easily route your traffic via many channels to keep your efficiency high and your costs low. It effectively eliminates latency and other common network problems. Additionally, it can detect outages and switch to another connection at a moment’s notice.
  • Customisable – You can tailor SD-WAN solutions to meet the unique needs of your business’ IT infrastructure. You can also use more or less bandwidth whenever it is necessary, a great capability for fluctuating loads.
  • Ease of Operations – The SD-WAN solution makes managing your network easier and more efficient. This is because all of the components you need are together in a central location.

Using SD-WAN to connect your stores and employees to the internet is cheaper, faster and easier

What Are the Challenges Associated With SD-WAN?

While SD-WAN can provide numerous benefits for today’s business, it brings along some challenges that companies should consider before deploying the solution within their system.

  • Router Change – If your system needs to run a time-division multiplexer to maintain your network, you must keep your existing WAN router so you can support your SD architecture.
  • Vendors – As with any new product you consider bringing on board, you need to be able to understand the SD-WAN vendor. Additionally, you need a complete account of what you are working with and the services provided. Be sure that you understand the terms and abilities of the SD-WAN solution.
  • Security – You will still need to implement security measures when SD-WAN is in use. This is because there is no on-site security functionality
  • IT Capabilities – Your IT team is a critical part of applying the SD-WAN solution. If your team cannot devote the time or lack expertise, you will need to call in a professional to help, which is typically an expensive undertaking.

A top-notch system such as SD-WAN needs oversight from experienced experts who are responsive and professional. The iCT Group can manage your company’s systems to give you the optimal performance you want along with the exceptional security that you need.