Traditional wide area networking has remained largely unchanged for much of the last two decades. The result is that most enterprise organizations are utilizing last century’s technology to power 21st-century operations. It’s slower than the modern alternatives, costs more to operate, and doesn’t scale to rapidly shifting needs (as we’ve seen in recent months).
Software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) has the potential to change that. Named the most disruptive technology by Avant in 2019, SD-WAN can be significantly faster than traditional MPLS networks, and cost as much as 75% less when it fully replaces those legacy networks.
Let’s take a closer look at just how much of an impact rapid deployment of a new SD-WAN can have on your organization.
The Practical Benefits of SD-WAN Deployment
A recent IDC study evaluating Cisco SD-WAN solutions found a range of benefits for organizations that had modernized their WAN environments with the new technology. These included:
- An average 2.25x increase to bandwidth with a 65% lower cost for equivalent bandwidth.
- An overall 38% lower five-year cost of operations and 33% greater efficiency in WAN management
- As much as 94% less unplanned downtime compared to the needs of traditional networks
- Average increased revenue per organization of $14.98 million
WAN modernization offers more than just increased performance. It instills a higher level of scalability and flexibility in an organization that helps to not only identify but act on new business opportunities. As a result, SD-WAN implementation is one of the most impactful improvements many of these organizations have made in the last few years – improving almost every facet of their operations.
When SD-WAN Makes Sense
WAN modernization can have an outsized impact on your organization, but there are specific situations in which it is a particularly good match for your efforts. These include:
- Making your network ready for SaaS like Office 365 or Salesforce
- Moving workloads to cloud IaaS like AWS or Azure
- Managing resources across multiple branches
- Simplifying WAN architecture to reduce complexity in management, operations, and consumption
- Better balancing security and application experience for employees with direct internet access in each branch.
In a recent IDC survey, 95% of businesses indicated they are considering a shift to SD-WAN in the next two years, but the sooner you act the more of an impact such a change can have. There are also questions about hardware. What tools and systems are best suited to match your organization’s needs?
For example, Cisco’s solutions come in multiple configurations. Shared capabilities include:
- Layer 3 VPN overlay for hub-and-spoke deployments
- Layers 3 and 7 policy and performance-based routing
- Transport independence across a variety of connection types
- Zero-touch deployment with support for templated configurations
- Highly scalable (10,000+ sites)
- LTE failover
- Virtual platform for AWS/Azure
- Intuitive GUI-based configuration and monitoring
- Programmability through APIs
- Advanced Malware Protection
- Integrated URL filtering
- Integrated security
A secure cloud-scale SD-WAN architecture supports any deployment – on-premise, cloud, or multi-tenant, for any service, via any transport in any location. The ability to leverage all existing resources and create a centralized dashboard to manage services and activity has a profound, lasting impact on those that make the transition. Predictable app experiences, the right security in the right places, and intent-based networking with multi-domain policy vastly improve overall performance and experience.
How Fast Can You Realize SD-WAN Benefits?
This is the biggest question many people have. Large enterprise organizations are used to extended implementations that grow more costly and take much longer than ever anticipated. SD-WAN is designed for rapid deployment and scalability. You can install and bring new branches or locations online in a day, and scale services over time to match the use cases of your organization.
The system can manage thousands of devices simultaneously – whether they are in a single campus environment or distributed across hundreds or even thousands of locations. At the same time, your IT department has complete control over WAN, edge, and cloud connections as a single network. This reduces friction in connecting new locations, users, and services to the network, all while providing the transparency your IT team needs to scale offerings effectively.
Most importantly, core features are built-into the system. Security, for example, is not bolted on after the fact. It is a fundamental part of the SD-WAN implementation, allowing you to centralize your security policies and segment accordingly across the consolidated network. From a single dashboard, you can deploy security to specific locations and devices as needed. At the same time, dashboard features allow you to provide stakeholders with important updates as needed. This includes all applications and infrastructure across your network, application performance scoring, performance forecasting based on specific scenarios, and support in provisioning and changes to bandwidth allocation.
If you are interested in learning more about why so many organizations are considering SD-WAN implementation, and how such a change can immediately reduce costs and improve performance for your company, download our recent eBook: How WAN Modernization Streamlines Innovation and Generates Measurable ROI or book a free consultation and advisory session to start mapping a plan.