July 07, 2017

SD-WAN – why it matters…

When you’re managing an enterprise across multiple locations, time and efficiency matters, which is why more and more businesses are turning to SD-WAN to control their network and traffic. Here’s the brief on SD-WAN and why it’s a rising tide in the networking world… SD-WAN by definition SD-WAN, or software defined networking in a wide…

Drew StaleyBusiness Development Manager

When you’re managing an enterprise across multiple locations, time and efficiency matters, which is why more and more businesses are turning to SD-WAN to control their network and traffic.

Here’s the brief on SD-WAN and why it’s a rising tide in the networking world…

SD-WAN by definition

SD-WAN, or software defined networking in a wide area network, is an appliance or software control method that allows the efficient routing of WAN traffic across large distances depending on business intent.

It basically simplifies the management of a wide area network by separating (decoupling) the networking hardware from its control mechanism.

According to Gartner, who predict a steep rise in take-up over the coming years, SD-WAN can “dramatically” improve the cost and complexity associated with traditional WAN, and features the following characteristics:

    1      A lightweight replacement for traditional WAN routers that are agnostic to WAN transport (i.e. support MPLS, Internet, LTE, etc.) and can physically terminate carrier circuits.

    2      Support for load sharing of traffic across multiple WAN connections in an efficient and dynamic fashion that can be based on business and/or application policies.

    3      SD-WAN solutions dramatically simplify the complexity associated with management, configuration and orchestration of WANs. The level of expertise required to configure the branch is akin to what is required to setup a basic home wireless network with consumer-grade equipment.

    4      SD-WAN solutions must provide secure VPN and have the ability to integrate additional network services (i.e. firewall, Wan Optimization, SWG etc.).

How it’s growing

Gartner explains while traditional WAN technologies and architecture evolve at a slow rate, “the disruptions caused by the transformation to digital business models are driving adoption of SD-WAN at a pace that is unheard of in wide-area networking”.

They predict:

•   Enterprise expenditure on SD-WAN will grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 76.2% from 2016 to 2020.

•   Spending on software-defined WAN products will rise from $129 million in 2016 to $1.24 billion in 2020.

The WAN challenge

WANs allow business to operate over large areas, connecting offices, data centres and branches and enabling them to use the same applications to provide the same services.

However, as the networks expand over greater distances, often utiilising different carriers or transport methods, they can become prone to latency, traffic congestion, data loss and local service outages.

This is compounded by modern business communications and requirements that are data intensive like 4K video streaming and video conferencing, but as in the case of VoIP, require a low latency rate.

SD-WAN addresses these issues by providing a centralised controller for traffic management. This controller takes into account prioritised business policies, managing traffic, routing it through predetermined paths, switching routes when necessary, and increasing bandwidth when required.

SD-WAN products can be physical or virtual products stored on the business premises, in data centres or in the Cloud.

What it offers

For expansive enterprises located across multiple locations, SD-WAN can offer the following benefits:

Speed – With the ability to detect network outages, SD-WAN can automatically ascertain and reroute traffic to minimise downtime, using all available carriers to their full capacity if required.

Security – WAN data can be encrypted as it moves from one location to another, and can also be segmented to minimise the damage of any breach. Attacks are often easier to detect for IT personnel who have a global view of traffic on the network.

Cost – SD-WAN can save expenditure on hardware such as routers, and on costs like IT deployment, while also increasing business productivity.

Flexibility – SD-WAN allows business to readily scale up as they grow, and can be implemented to overlay existing architecture.

Simplified administration – SD-WAN allows IT personnel to implement changes and rectify issues remotely rather than manually onsite.

The final word

SD-WAN may not be suited to all enterprise but for some it can offer very real benefits. The best option is to have your WAN assessed to pinpoint any issues and find the best solution for your business.

About Allstar Solutions

Allstar Solutions is a nationally recognised expert in ICT infrastructure and design including WAN. Our philosophy is to work with business to implement the network you require now and into the future. We will work with you to:

•   Design scalable solutions to support the increasing number of devices and connections

•   Capture and analyse data to gain critical insights and take actions quickly

•   Provide Independent core network design.

•   Create high availability network design Multi-tenanted environments for managed services, including private cloud, public cloud and hybrid solutions.

•   Ensure security design to protect your business and customers throughout your infrastructure.

You can learn more about our services here or contact us for further advice.