The top 5 benefits of SD-WAN technology

It’s taken some time to catch on, but an increasing number of organizations are getting onboard with software-defined WANs. This is the year SD-WAN is expected to take off — and be a major driver for network modernization and multi-cloud deployments.

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Network architectures don’t change overnight. But as we increasingly move toward cloud-based applications, traditional networks don’t always make sense. With software-defined networking, you can route traffic using centrally managed rules — which isn’t just more efficient, but can also lower bandwidth costs and improve the user experience.

Cisco predicts SD-WAN network traffic will grow by a whopping 500 per cent in the coming year, “and our research shows that more than half of business customers who don’t currently use SD-WAN are going to make plans for its adoption,” writes Anand Oswal, a senior VP of engineering with Cisco.

IDC, for its part, predicts the market will grow at a CAGR of 40.4 per cent through 2022, to reach US$4.5 billion. Rohit Mehra, VP of network infrastructure at IDC, says “the emergence of SD-WAN technology has been one of the fastest industry transformations we have seen in years” as organizations modernize their WAN to improve the user experience for cloud-enabled applications.

If you’re still undecided about moving to SD-WAN, here are five benefits to consider:

Cost Reduction

This has been a much-hyped selling point for SD-WAN, but for good reason: Organizations are seeing reduced operating costs, reduced capital costs, reductions in network downtime and gains in the productivity of IT staff — plus, of course, lower bandwidth costs. In addition to direct cost savings, all areas of the business benefit indirectly from the increased performance of applications.

Cloud Capabilities

The ability to recognize and route cloud-based traffic allows SD-WAN to more easily support a multi-cloud environment. It also provides reliable, high-performance connectivity, overcoming a previous challenge of cloud migration. SD-WAN becomes a more efficient network architecture if you’re moving (or planning to move) unified communications services to the cloud. It can also pave the way for future cloud migrations since it can be rolled out incrementally, and you don’t have to rip-and-replace your investments in MPLS.

Increased Reliability

With SD-WAN, traffic can flow over multiple independent links from different providers. The SD-WAN will monitor these links and route traffic over the most efficient one, based on pre-set parameters. This reduces downtime and helps maintain application performance and response time. As organizations increase their use of the cloud, this becomes even more important.

End-to-End Security

SD-WAN technology comes with built-in security such as standards-based authentication and encryption to secure traffic end-to-end (but needs to be interoperable with existing security products). It monitors traffic flows and provides constant visibility, so abnormal activity — whether originating internally or externally — can be easily detected. It also allows for the segmentation and isolation of traffic over unsecured Internet links.

Central Management

Thanks to automation and central management capabilities, the day-to-day management of SD-WAN can save time and reduce the need for localized resources. The ability to perform zero-touch provisioning, for example, can free up substantial time for the IT team. The use of SD-WAN-as-a-Service, or managed SD-WAN, is also growing in popularity and can further free up internal resources.

With SD-WAN, you can reduce costs, support multi-cloud environments, increase the reliability and performance of your applications, enhance security and reduce demands on your IT team.

Find out more about Allstream’s SD-WAN offerings here.

Image: AF-studio/iStock

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