The Top Five Reasons Why Organisations Are Adopting SD-WAN
Author Patrick Grillo, Senior Director, Product Strategy, Fortinet
In order to keep pace with emerging market trends, fluctuating customer demands, and increased competition, many of today’s organisations are embracing digital transformation. However, digitally transforming is no easy feat. For starters, traditional network architectures weren’t built to handle the workloads and complexities of most digital transformation initiatives. What’s more, business-critical services are also often distributed across multiple clouds, which can compromise network performance further, especially at branch locations.
As a way to reduce overhead and support new applications and services resulting from digital transformation, many organisations are switching from performance-inhibited wide-area networks (WANs) to software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) architectures.
SD-WAN simplifies the management and operation of a WAN, reduces network complexity, increases network visibility, and leverages lower-cost Internet connectivity. In fact, IDC predicts that worldwide SD-WAN infrastructure and services revenues will see a compound annual growth rate of 40.4% from 2017 to 2022 to reach $4.5 billion.
Here are five real-world business benefits of SD-WAN, which illustrate how this innovative technology can reduce IT headaches – and boost organisations’ bottom line:
1. Improved performance. SD-WAN can be configured to prioritise business-critical network traffic and real-time services like Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and then steer it over the most efficient route. By facilitating critical applications through reliable, high performance connections, IT teams can help reduce packet loss and latency issues, thereby improving employee productivity and boosting staff morale.
2. Increased security. Digital transformation is a double-edged sword. While it can improve customer satisfaction and extend market reach, it can also expose an organisation to significant security risks. That’s a concern, given that 41% of respondents reported an increase in the frequency of cybersecurity events in 2017, according to the U.S. State of Cybercrime survey. The good news is many SD-WAN solutions offer built-in security. However, the basic firewall and VPN functions provided by most SD-WAN solutions are often not enough, forcing IT teams to try and overlay security across elastic and dynamic SD-WAN connections after the fact. A better option is to look for SD-WAN solutions that provide a wide range of integrated security features, such as a next-generation firewall (NGFW), an intrusion prevention system (IPS), antivirus (AV), and data encryption, that can help prevent data loss, downtime, regulatory violations, and legal liabilities.
3. Reduced complexity. Digital transformation initiatives can add layers of complexity to a network. The result is not only a risk of poor network performance, but over-taxed IT teams and the need for locating onsite personnel at remote locations to manage the local IT infrastructure. Fortunately, SD-WAN can ease the IT burden by simplifying WAN infrastructure, using broadband to off-load non-critical business apps, automating monitoring tasks, and managing traffic through a centralised controller. Additionally, when properly implemented, SD-WAN can be extended deep into the local branch local area network (LAN) to ensure that its security and network functionalities can protect locally deployed devices and secure direct connections to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) cloud applications and other online resources.
4. Enabled cloud usage. Organisations are increasingly adopting cloud services. The good news is that SD-WAN enables direct cloud access at the remote branch, thereby eliminating backhauling traffic – routing all cloud and branch office traffic through the data centre – meaning that employees can directly access cloud applications regardless of location, without burdening the core network with additional traffic to manage and secure. What’s more, SD-WAN improves cloud application performance by prioritising business critical applications and enabling branches to connect directly with the Internet.
5. Reduced costs. As organisations deploy an ever-increasing array of cloud-based applications, the amount of data travelling over a WAN grows exponentially, as do operating costs. Fortunately, SD-WAN can reduce this price tag by leveraging low cost local Internet access, providing direct cloud access, and decreasing the amount of traffic over the backbone WAN. To illustrate, nearly a quarter of respondents to a recent IDC survey expect SD-WAN cost savings of upwards of 39%, with two-thirds expecting more modest savings in the 5-19% range.
As digital transformation continues to radically change how organisations do business, it is essential that all parts of the network are aligned to take advantage of new opportunities. Eliminating network sprawl, security risks, and inconsistent performance are among the advantages of migrating to SD-WAN.
Organisations that dive deeper will also find that the flexibility, responsiveness and interoperability that this innovative technology can offer, bring enormous business benefits that translate to a much lower total cost of ownership, and support larger SD-Branch initiatives.
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