SD WAN is perhaps the biggest trend in enterprise networking today. Companies of all sizes are looking toward this next generation WAN technology as the only solution that can seamlessly enable cloud migration and digital transformation. Many analysts expect the market to grow exponentially in the next couple of years.
A simple google trend analysis corroborates this hypothesis. Interest in sd wan has more than doubled since 2018. The top three reasons for driving this interest are cloud migration, security, and limitations of legacy networks.
Google Trend – sd wan
A Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD WAN) is a solution that simplifies cloud and data center connectivity for enterprise users. It reduces cost while improving reliability and security by combining various transport technologies like broadband Internet, MPLS, LTE, and Layer 2 private networks.
SD WAN – The Cloud Transformation Enabler
Cloud transformation is an unstoppable juggernaut that is on the top of every CIOs agenda. An often-overlooked consequence of this transformation is the dramatic change in enterprise traffic patterns and the effect it has on the architecture and design of the WAN.
Legacy networks like MPLS pose two critical problems: the cost associated with scaling and the time taken to provision new links. This is where SD WAN has proven its worth with an architecture that can scale while keeping the cost low and performance high.
Further, some SD WAN service providers have also built dedicated off-ramps for popular IaaS providers like AWS, Azure, etc. This accelerates cloud application performance, a critical factor that can adversely affect the end-user experience.
SD WAN – Addressing the Cloud Security Challenge
Cloud adoption has another important consequence – security. CIOs in big and small enterprises are grappling with the security challenges posed by the increased adoption of SaaS applications. In the past when applications resided in the data center, network security was achieved by ring-fencing the data center, an approach that is not viable in the cloud-first era.
As much of the action shifts away from the data center, there was an overwhelming consensus among IT leaders that the ideal place for security is in the cloud and closer to the users and applications. Analysts from Gartner have even coined a new term for this approach – SASE or Secure Access Service Edge (SASE pronounced ‘sassy’). It is a new architecture that combines SD WAN capabilities with network security functions.
The fusion of networking (SD WAN) and cloud security into a single solution is another compelling reason for enterprises to make the transition to SD WAN.
SD WAN & Legacy Network technologies like MPLS
Legacy Enterprise WAN is fast becoming a bottleneck for organizations that are on the digital transformation path. The cost and complexity associated with extending MPLS for a modern digital enterprise are proving to be a stumbling block. In particular, the trombone effect occurs when data destined for the cloud is forced to exit through a central data center after traversing through the length and breadth of the organization. While MPLS may be good for certain types of applications that still reside in the data center, it is wholly unsuited for SaaS and other cloud applications.
SD WAN and MPLS are not either-or solutions. SD WAN is architected to be transport agnostic, and hence it can still use MPLS selectively. The major benefits of SD WAN come from its ability to intelligently bifurcate traffic and route them to the most appropriate transport solution.
SD WAN marks a paradigm shift in the networking world. It signals the end of the single transport solution era. It is a networking solution designed for a cloud-first era bringing together features such as cloud application acceleration, WAN optimization, direct off-ramps to leading cloud service providers, and integrated cloud security.
If the future of enterprises is digital, SD WAN is the foundation on which this future will be built.