Why should you consider SD-WAN (or not)?

Key drivers for SD-WAN

  • The need for more bandwidth

Business is still asking for more bandwidth while CIO’s feel pressure to keep costs under control.  Upgrading expensive MPLS circuits is no longer an option, CIO’s are looking for cheaper alternatives.  Key thing here is finding the right balance between MPLS and internet and even on the latter the choice between dedicated internet access or the cheaper broadband internet

  • Cloud strategy

More and more companies have a ‘cloud-first’ strategy or, at least, end-users are running more and more cloud applications.  This brings a new need from IT organizations for application visibility and control.

  • Flexibility and agility

Business can’t wait for months any more to resolve network issues.  Application behavior and network needs are constantly changing, so there is a need for flexible networks, that can be easily adapted.  Centralized policies that can be pushed easily to the branches are key.

Software Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) has become quickly one of the emerging technologies.  More and more companies are embracing DevOps (Development & Operations) practices to deliver applications faster to the business.  To avoid the enterprise network is seen as a bottleneck, there is the need for building agile networks – this is where SD-WAN comes in the picture.

Why are companies making the move to SD-WAN?

Most companies today are struggling with the need to change their enterprise networks.  A few years ago, applications were hosted in a data center (on-premises or hosted in an external data center), branches were connected via MPLS (or through internet VPN’s) to the HQ and all internet traffic had a break-out in the data center.  This model worked well for many years but is not sustainable anymore.  The widespread adoption of cloud applications and services is driving the demand to other ways to connect the end-users to their applications.

Why the ‘legacy model’ is not working anymore?

By moving applications to the cloud, companies are consuming more internet bandwidth to reach these applications.  In the ‘legacy model’ all traffic coming from the branches needs to pass the network to the datacenter where it breaks-out via the internet to the cloud.  Returning traffic to the branches will pass through the data center as well.  This backhauling internet traffic is no longer acceptable as it impacts the application performance (latency) and, as a consequence, the end-user experience.

SD-WAN creates some new security challenges

With SD-WAN, a big amount of traffic no longer passes through a centralized location.  This means that the central corporate security policies, running from firewalls in the data center, don’t provide an end-to-end security anymore.  Since internet traffic breaks out locally, every branch needs additional security like web filtering, intrusion detection and prevention, … Security shouldn’t be an option, but part of the solution.

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