It is difficult to overstate how profoundly the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted network performance. The need to support massive numbers of remote employees with and bandwidth-hungry applications has significantly increased network traffic and intensified connectivity demands. Decades-old WANs designed primarily to support email and web browsing simply aren’t up to the task.
In legacy WAN solutions, organizations provision expensive dedicated circuits or multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) links to interconnect locations, backhauling web traffic to headquarters due to the inherent unreliability of Internet connections. That worked well enough when network traffic was fairly limited. However, the limitations of this approach have become apparent as remote network access, cloud connections and video applications have experienced exponential growth.
In a recent survey, almost half of organizations still using legacy WAN solutions report that they have experienced connectivity issues since shifting to remote work. Respondents reported productivity is being diminished due to slow application response times and other connectivity issues. They also fear a rise in security issues if remote workers turn to insecure Internet connections or devices to do their work.
Software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) solutions address these challenges through the use of software-defined networking principles. SD-WAN gives organizations the ability to dynamically mix and match connectivity options to improve traffic management, optimize application performance, control costs and boost security.
Here are five essential benefits SD-WAN can bring to your company:
- Traffic Management. SD-WAN enables organizations to blend transport types such as MPLS, broadband Internet, cellular and satellite to suit their needs. For example, MPLS offers a highly secure connection for mission-critical data while broadband circuits are more affordable for high-volume but less-sensitive workloads. Software-based intelligence provides automated, policy-driven routing of traffic over the optimal connection.
- Cost Efficiency. By transferring traffic from MPLS connections to broadband Internet links, SD-WAN helps cut telecommunication costs substantially while gaining additional bandwidth. SD-WAN also reduces equipment and administration expenses.
- Application Optimization. SD-WAN is an application-aware technology, which means it can identify and classify apps based on a variety of characteristics and then apply optimization techniques to ensure peak performance. It also improves the performance of cloud-based apps by reducing or eliminating the need to backhaul traffic from the cloud to the data center, which creates latency and reliability issues.
- Remote employees likely won’t have very robust security measures in their home offices. SD-WANs use encryption to secure traffic from end-to-end, and all devices and components are fully authenticated. They also virtualize network functions such as WAN optimization and firewall capabilities, making it easy to manage these functions from a single dashboard.
- Network Resilience. SD-WAN eliminates the conventional WAN hub-and-spoke architectural model in which all critical apps and services are deployed in the data center. Forcing branch office, remote and mobile employees to connect to the main office for all of their Internet connectivity and application access wastes bandwidth and creates a single point of failure.
An increased reliance on remote network access and cloud connectivity is changing network usage patterns in ways that push legacy WAN architectures to their limits. SD-WAN solutions help ensure that your employees have reliable access to the data and applications they need to do their jobs. Give us a call to discuss how an SD-WAN can help you address your evolving business requirements.