Businesses are juggling more devices, users and software than ever before, with employees expecting to work from anywhere, on any device. It’s no surprise then, that most organisations have migrated most, if not all, of their workloads to the cloud.
Traditional networks, however, were not built with the cloud in mind, so to meet these new demands, more businesses are making the smart switch to Software-Defined Wide Area Networking – known as SD-WAN.
What is SD-WAN and how does it work?
When a company expands beyond a single location, it needs a geographically large network to connect all of those offices. That network is what we call the WAN – Wide Area Network.
SD-WAN (Software Defined – Wide Area Networking) refers to the use of software to control network connectivity and traffic across the WAN using the most efficient routes.
SD-WAN can enable you to manage your entire extended network, regardless of location – which might be multiple offices or remote workers’ devices. Think of it a bit like a personal Wi-Fi router that connects your entire organisation and all of your locations. If you need to add a new device, you can just plug it in (remotely), and all your network systems and protocols will be fully loaded and ready to go.
Key benefits of SD-WAN
1. Cost savings
Cost savings are a major driver for the migration to SD-WAN. As SD-WAN can be managed from a central location, there is no longer the need for multiple expensive WAN links (a WAN link connects each computer to the main network).
As well as this, the savings come from reduced equipment and maintenance costs, and reduced operational costs due to simplified installation and ongoing management of SD-WAN.
2. Better performance and reliability
Where traditional Wide Area Networks route traffic through a data centre before passing it onto the internet (through a technique called Multiprotocol Label Switching), SD-WAN routes traffic directly through to the internet for secure, faster connections.
You can also set rules for applications you need the most, such as a CRM or VoIP, to ensure they are allocated a certain level of bandwidth and performance at all times. With SD-WAN, you can expect to see more responsive email, without delays due to network latency, more stable VoIP, without dropouts in voice quality and clearer video calls, without fluctuations in video quality. As a result of this, SD-WAN can have a significant impact on business productivity.
3. Easy to manage and upgrade
SD-WAN gives you or your managed services provider, the ability to remotely monitor network performance, for example, to see exactly how bandwidth is being used, all through the centralised point of control which you can access through a simple interface.
SD-WAN also enables faster deployment of upgrades and scalability. Rather than taking weeks or even months, business-wide network changes and upgrades can be done remotely in minutes, and without the need for on site technicians to perform time-consuming configurations at each office location.
4. Boosted security
The good news is many SD-WAN solutions offer built-in security. SD-WAN can easily create pathways for application data to travel along, but it’s also able to quickly and easily shut those routes down.
It can help stop unauthorised traffic from entering your network by covering all your endpoints with end-to-end encryption. The team who manages your network can then rapidly isolate the path where a threat is and prevent the damage from something making its way into your network.
With SD-WAN, monitoring network security is also straightforward and done remotely through the centralised point of control. This has benefits for businesses with multiple locations, that use cloud-based services, or with staff who work remotely, as all network traffic passes through one way regardless of user location.
Did you know SD-WAN can be delivered as a managed service? We recently announced a five-year agreement that adds Vodafone SIP and SD-WAN connectivity into our OneCloud platform.
Experts from Vodafone are guests at our upcoming webinar ‘Becoming Future Ready with SD-WAN’. This is our first public OneTALKS – a new series of webinars led by industry experts from Onecom and prestigious guests from market leading organisations. It’s free to join the 45-minute session on 20th May, just save your seat.
In the meantime, if you’d like a clear assessment of how SD-WAN might be of benefit to your business, contact one of our experts.