Professional services firms that operate over multiple sites and campuses have, until recently, had to rely on expensive Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) or leased lines for connecting remote sites to the central hub location. Both are viable solutions for routing traffic in a telecommunications network, but a reasonably new technology that has been developed over the last 5-10 years is making the process cheaper and easier to implement for multi-site businesses around the world.
SD-WAN, or Software Defined Wide Area Network to use its full name, is a smarter way of determining which path each specific application needs to use for the best performance outcome. Once the SD-WAN has made that decision, it routes traffic through to the ideal WAN path, rather than routing requests through the MPLS.
So, what does that mean for businesses?
Most importantly, SD-WAN has allowed anyone operating a large, disparate network to take advantage of an alternative connectivity option, rather than relying on the pre-existing MPLS. Third parties meanwhile, such as managed service providers, ISPs, and others, can create an SD-WAN network that overlays on top of the circuits the carriers provide.
Five key benefits of using SD-WAN technology
The biggest ways that SD-WAN technology can improve network operations for businesses include:
- Boosting security
Digital transformation is vital to keeping up with the times, and improving working conditions for staff alongside customer satisfaction. A potential side effect however, is the increase in security risks. Thankfully, SD-WAN instances most often come with solutions such as next generation firewalls, encryption, and IPS already built in. Multiple encryption ciphers also give the user options when it comes to security and, what’s more, SD-WAN can be deployed alongside existing security and unified threat management systems.
- Easing complexity
SD-WAN allows any business implementing it to simplify its WAN infrastructure and ease the burden on IT departments. It does this by automating monitoring tasks, managing traffic using a central controller, and using broadband to offload apps that are not critical to the running of the business.
- Accessing cloud usage
The use of cloud services has grown phenomenally over recent years, something which SD-WAN capitalises on by enabling direct cloud access at remote branches. That means that backhauling traffic through the data centre becomes a thing of the past, and members of staff can access cloud applications directly, regardless of where they are in the world, without causing the core network to slow down.
- Reducing costs
The amount money being spent on data thanks to cloud-based applications is easy to lose track of, especially as more and more is sent travelling over the WAN. SD-WAN gives users the ability to reduce this price tag by leveraging low-cost local Internet access. With direct cloud access provided, the amount of traffic sent over the WAN declines and costs fall as a result.
- Improving performance
With SD-WAN you get guaranteed uptime, meaning that customers old and new can always communicate with you when they need to, while configuration allows businesses to prioritise business-critical traffic and vital real-time services like voice over internet protocol (VoIP) devices. By keeping these critical applications running with high-performance connections, packet loss and latency issues are reduced, creating a much improved performance.
Thanks to increased performance and reliability, organisations can stream and host video with greater confidence. The Covid-19 pandemic has drastically affected the way that those in business meet and collaborate, and so it’s more important than ever for virtual conferencing and workload apps to run smoothly without overburdening the network. SD-WAN lets customers aggregate connections from multiple providers, so that video communications platforms never run out of the network resources they need to operate smoothly.