The dynamic new world of divergent, super-scale data (due to new technology paradigms such as mobile, big data an cloud) has put a lot of pressure on traditional WANs, impacting their consistency and performance. The growing conversation around SD-WAN is a direct result of organizations’ need to build a superior level of connectivity, reliability and performance, while growing and diversifying across markets and geographies. Adoption has been extremely strong, with IDC projecting the market for SD-WAN technology to be north of USD 8bn by 2021.
Simply put, SD-WAN, or Software Defined WAN, is the concept of using software-based controllers that work on top of existing WAN architecture. Based on SDN (Software Driven Networking) concepts, SD-WAN technology is capable of abstracting all network components and define routing policies to improve the efficiency and performance of the WAN. The technology gives enterprises great flexibility to manage, prioritize, optimize and dynamically reallocate network resources extremely quickly.
Here are some of the important benefits of implementing SD- WAN:
Cost Advantage: SD-WAN services can be deployed using standard commodity hardware, or through cloud-based applications. For globally distributed organizations, this provides significant flexibility to build greater operational agility and network availability without having to put more money in expensive WAN technology.
Better Load Management: The software-defined feature has a singular, overriding advantage – of being able to programmatically manage loads and network resources. This is extremely beneficial to organizations that are trying new markets and geographies with unpredictable demands and low budgets.
Capacity Bursting: For highly variable network loads, since SD-WAN services use cloud capabilities, organizations can dynamically scale up or down to manage large fluctuations in network activity. The SD-WAN can also adjust traffic to improve network performance.
Flexible Provisioning and Allocation: Since the network is software defined, it becomes very easy to dynamically provision (or de-provision) and allocate (or de-allocate) network resources and specialized services such as firewalls, VPNs and user-controls.
According to Gartner, an SD-WAN must have four main features:
Support for different types of connections such as MPLS, frame relay and high speed LTE wireless communication
Dynamically select the most optimal path to ensure that loads are managed effectively
Easy configurability and manageability through simple user interfaces
Support for VPNs and other services such as WAN optimization controllers, firewalls and web gateways
Organizations that intend to move their network capabilities to SD-WAN technology need to just make a simple analysis of the cost-benefits in the near-term and the long-run. Some of the key areas of evaluation are:
How effectively does the chosen technology support different types of network requirements – such as MPLS and frame relay?
How simple is the solution to deploy, manage and troubleshoot? What kind of technical skills would be required to manage the solution?
How well does the solution or service provider manage DR situation (in terms of security, availability and restoration of services)?
How strongly are network quality-of-service (QoS) and performance SLAs defined?
What is the solution or service provider’s track record in terms of adherence to SLAs?
CSPs such as Netmagic actually deliver an entire range of SD-WAN services with strong SLA management. With significant experience around managed services, such vendors are ideal for most companies that wish to deploy SD-WAN across their nationwide or worldwide offices.