This is the first of our new series of posts focussed on addressing the main questions we receive from customers about SD-WAN. Over the coming weeks we will address the most important reasons for choosing SD-WAN and the main considerations for deployment based on our own and customer experiences. To begin with, we look at what is motivating companies to choose SD-WAN.

One of the main drivers for SD-WAN adoption today is the move to take advantage of cloud based services, both Software and Infrastructure as a service. Many companies both large and small have or are about to embark on a digital transformation journey and for most that means a very significant shift to cloud hosted applications and workload. What that also means however is that the traditional wide area network, commonly architected on a hub and spoke basis, is no longer  capable of dealing with the demands being placed on it. Failure to address this issue can result in poor application performance and a ultimately a poor user experience.

The traditional network was designed to carry traffic from remote or branch locations back to a central site, a data centre or HQ, where applications were hosted or from where traffic could be safely forwarded. Modern environments place both applications and workload in many different locations meaning that the traditional network is no longer optimised to deal with the demand. Compounding this, the volume of applications in use is growing continuously and the requirement to optimise the network on a per application basis is therefore critical to meet the need of the modern enterprise.

These fundamental changes mean that networks and in particular the wide area network, must now be capable of providing optimised or where required prioritised performance on a per application or user basis to meet the demands of any cloud migration or digital transformation program.

Previously, approaches such as WAN optimisation and even over-provisioning of network bandwidth were used to try to address some of the problems being experienced but these are both complex and expensive and indeed limited when it comes to dealing with issues such as latency or path optimisation.

In order to understand the network and to properly provision network resources, it is crucial that complete visibility of traffic is available. Traditional management tools typically do not differentiate critical applications and their specific requirements from other traffic types. These tools tend also to lack the dynamic character required to deal with the ongoing changes that occur on a modern WAN. An SD-WAN, on the other hand, provides detailed visibility of all application, user and device traffic and provides a single point of control and optimisation which in turn allows changes to be applied centrally and consistently in accordance with business policies when required.

This central control, coupled with limited and often zero touch on site requirements also addresses the challenges with limitation of network or IT staff and in turn allows companies to more effectively deploy these expensive resources to focus on the successful implementation of the digital transformation strategy and the related cloud migration.

SD-WAN has brought the required flexibility, visibility, security and control that a modern business undergoing various levels of digital transformation and move to the cloud requires.

As we will see in later posts, there are many SD-WAN solutions, adoption challenges and deployment models available. For more information, contact us at: info@iricent.com or on Twitter @Iricent