With organization processes and applications becoming increasingly cloud-centric, SD-WAN or Software-Defined WAN is the key to the future of networking. A study of IT decision-makers performed for software-defined networking company Masergy by Altman Solon found that 79% of businesses are currently using some form of SD-WAN, and by 2026 that number will rise to 92%. Of those, 58% plan to use a hybrid access model to balance the benefits and drawbacks of public and private SD-WANs.
Let’s explore different trends in SD-WAN technology and its impact on the future of network infrastructure at a global level.
SD-WAN or Software-Defined WAN is essentially a software technology that resides on top of the internet and on MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching) so that network traffic can be easily controlled and managed from a central control location. With legacy enterprise WANs proving to be complex and expensive, SD-WAN technology is quickly becoming the new standard for businesses.
SD-WAN technology’s automation capabilities program and route traffic intelligently over both physical and wireless technologies, making it relevant to any business that requires state-of-the-art communication technologies. Key benefits of SD-WAN include:
SD-WAN can ensure seamless data flow and derive peak performance from the underlying networks. Application-level control allows critical application traffic to be routed over private MPLS while non-critical traffic is routed over the internet.
SD-WAN allows businesses to invest in low costing underlying networks without losing out on speed or reliability. Augmenting MPLS connections with regular broadband services can see companies reduce costs by as much as 90%.
Configuring a traditional WAN setup for cloud integration can be a painful and lengthy process. In contrast, SD-WAN can be configured much faster.
Centrally managed and controlled SD-WAN architecture allows the IT team to create a more robust WAN framework from the beginning. The centrally managed console brings down monthly manpower requirements and operational expenditure as well. Most SD-WAN solutions are designed to centrally push updates to all branch locations and reduce latency while increasing security.
With such benefits under its belt, SD-WAN technology has overtaken ‘good enough’ telecommunication and network solutions and replaced them with best-in-class options without investment in costly hardware.
The cloud computing craze has settled into a market dominated by a handful of mega cloud service providers. Organizations are operating clouds made up of a collection of:
But they need a reliable and secure way to connect this private infrastructure to their other on-demand infrastructure housed in public clouds. This interconnectivity will only become more critical as business models continue to evolve into cloud-first and cloud-native deployments.
While SD-WAN can meet cloud computing needs efficiently, its current version is just the beginning. Automation, Artificial Intelligence, Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), and its integration with the Internet of Things (IoT) are some innovations currently under development in the industry.
AI and machine learning functions will make SD-WAN more intuitive and responsive to business needs. A self-driving edge network will be able to correct network issues without IT professionals needing to configure fixes manually. This can be an even more significant game-changer for IT professionals than what SD-WAN is currently providing, further lessening the manual, tedious work and freeing up their time for more strategic work.
Let’s look at four trends in SD-WAN technology and how they can accelerate your business over the coming decade.
Unlike traditional WAN, which was purely built on overall performance, SD-WAN is governed by performance based on application. SD-WAN can provide optimized performance enablers based on the user’s definition of the application’s business criticality. These users can also be a particular ‘group of users’ and not necessarily individual entities. For example, SD-WAN can optimize video-conferencing application performance for C-level executives and database access for administrators.
SD-WAN deployments in the future are likely to offer a much greater granularity in application-level management. It will focus on treating data flows according to what is determined by an individual or a group of users as the critical data flows to complete their work.
Artificial Intelligence will be a key driver in enabling advancement in user-level performance management. While AI can automate major functionality, user-based performance policies are likely to increase complexity. We may see new SaaS offerings stepping into this space. More businesses may offload these management tasks to innovative MSPs (managed services providers) or third-party services organizations.
Despite being a “hot market trend,” SD-WAN is still seen as a network add-on rather than a primary requirement. Most of the existing implementations of SD-WAN are deployed inside the confines of an organization’s existing WAN architecture.
Technical architects have started evaluating their existing WAN setup to fully exploit SD-WAN’s cost-saving and high-performance advantages. If this trend continues, then future WAN implementations are bound to assume that SD-WAN deployments will be a part of the setup as well. This is popularly termed the ‘SD-WAN-first’ approach. Organizations adopting SD-WAN today will automatically be able to upgrade to further innovating network solutions tomorrow.
SD-WAN-as-a-Service is definitely a technology trend to watch out for. Any technology implemented as a service can be up and running that much faster. There is no doubt that it takes a substantial amount of effort and time for the IT team to create as well as maintain in-house SD-WAN solutions. Therefore, it is certainly better to hire the services of a third-party provider for managing SD-WAN infrastructure and perform only policy management and creation in-house. This can substantially bring down the manpower required for WAN architecture management.
Most such service providers will be capable of managing the entire gamut of WAN architecture, including routing protocols between office locations, circuit upgrades/downgrades, etc. This is a considerable move from the traditional IT setup, where every aspect is controlled in-house.
Third-party SD-WAN-aaS providers will considerably reduce the everyday fire-fighting on non-critical network issues that the IT teams spend hours to rectify. Such a service model also allows start-ups and small to medium businesses to avail of SD-WAN benefits without increasing their capital and operational expenditure.
Lastly, hybrid cloud computing strategies are being adopted by businesses at a rapid pace. Integration of first-gen SD-WAN technology platforms with these is an interesting move in the network space. These hybrid clouds allow users to connect a private data center with a private or public cloud provider. This allows policy sharing between these two entities to ensure that the operations are identical with respect to administration.
IT teams benefit from the reliability, performance, and security that is ensured even when services are deployed using various cloud service provider networks. Now that a multi-cloud strategy has become a viable option, SD-WAN is slated to provide excellent performance and low latency benefits even across such platforms.
The existing SD-WAN technology should be looked upon as a stepping stone for a more integrated and advanced enterprise WAN management in the future. However, as is the case with most technologies globally, SD-WAN cannot develop in isolation. It requires the underlying infrastructure and architecture to advance to its full potential.
With traditional office jobs giving way to work-from-home and remote-office provisioning worldwide, corporate office spaces are increasingly becoming a trend of the past. SD-WAN is set to go beyond an ‘ease-of-management tool from branch offices to a more comprehensive network solution. Learn more about how you can benefit from implementing SD-WAN in your organization. Contact CarrierBid Communications for a free consultation today!