Why SD-WAN is critical to the success of your cloud strategy

Unlocking the stretchy scalability of the cloud is key to most organisations’ digital strategies these days. Whether cloud computing is required to unlock flexible and hybrid working, to deliver exceptional customer experiences, to achieve seamless operations across multiple physical sites – or something else entirely – the cloud enables organisations across any and all sectors to obtain truly scalable and flexible resources.

But it’s not all plain sailing. With that flexibility – and particularly as working patterns become less and less rigid – comes less predictability in terms of network bandwidth and traffic. After all, if staff and customers can log on anytime, anywhere, from any device, then the daily peaks and troughs of network traffic and data use have fundamentally altered.

This is where software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) comes in.

 

What is SD-WAN?

Traditional wide area networks (WANs) are based on conventional routers which were never designed for the speed, scalability and flexibility of the cloud. Typically, all traffic – even if it is destined for the cloud – needs to be transmitted from branch offices to a centralised datacentre where security inspections are undertaken.

By contrast, SD-WANs use centralised control functions to direct traffic across the entire network – including where applications are hosted in on-premise datacentres, public or private clouds.

Why SD-WAN supports successful cloud strategies

This begins to point to why SD-Wan architectures can truly unlock cloud success. SD-WAN leverages organisations’ existing network infrastructure to make each individual application run as efficiently as possible, by routing them across the most appropriate link. Ultimately, they free organisations from complete datacentre dependency. If organisations, for example, want to use a cloud provider like Amazon Web Services, then they can deploy SD-WAN edge devices inside of that cloud provider, whilst still maintaining required connectivity to their legacy datacentres. In turn, this means faster app delivery and a better network performance.

Security is another important consideration. Security is crucial to the success of any cloud strategy, ensuring that flexibility and scalability does not come at the cost of network integrity. SD-Wan architectures enable organisations to implement an additional layer of security, by integrating solutions such as threat prevention, data protection and bandwidth management tools.

Implementing SD-WAN smoothly and seamlessly

How, then, to implement an SD-WAN architecture? The first step is to examine your existing estate, and look at how SD-WAN will integrate into your existing infrastructure. SD-WANs are not a one-size-fits-all solution for all network functionality; you will need to analyse your existing applications and protocols to better understanding your current bandwidth and routing. The key when implementing SD-Wan is to prioritise the packets on your network, and this can only be done if you properly understand your network to start with.

So, you need to map the connectivity flows of all your applications, which will then enable you to set up routing policies for deploying SD-WAN. You should also use the implementation of SD-WAN as an opportunity to update your security policies and really take a future-proofed approach to securing your network.

These are all areas that MLR Networks can help with. So, to explore the possibilities of SD-WAN for underpinning your own cloud strategy, get in touch with us today.

 

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