Digital connectivity is enabling businesses to adopt far-reaching, global growth strategies like never before. However, these strategies rely on the ability to communicate with ease, seamlessly access data in real-time and connect across a variety of applications to maximise value. This immense amount of traffic creates a challenge for the network, an issue that SD-WAN solutions have the ability to solve.
The challenge of rapid digital proliferation
In April 2022, 63 per cent of the global population were using the internet; that amounts to five billion internet users worldwide. This growth is astounding, considering the World Wide Web was invented just 33 years ago. And it’s not just a rapid growth in the number of users. Research reveals that the average U.S. household had a total of 25 connected devices in 2021, up from 11 devices just two years earlier.
In business, many organisations operate via multi-cloud deployments, using a variety of networks and infrastructure. Latency sensitive applications place high demands on bandwidth, while a high-quality user experience is still expected.
Managing traffic volumes and the complexity of connections to offer optimum network performance is incredibly challenging, even for the most skilled IT department. SD-WAN solutions eliminate the complexity and offer a technology that enables your applications to deliver their maximum value.
What are SD-WAN solutions?
Software-defined wide-area networking or SD-WAN is a software-based technology solution that centralises the monitoring and management of wide-area networks.
Overlaid on the existing WAN infrastructure, it can manage any connection type, irrespective of provider. SD-WAN solutions enable network infrastructure managers to create and deploy overarching policies for dynamically routing network traffic at all sites or locations worldwide.
SD-WAN solutions can either be cloud-enabled or edge-enabled. Cloud-enabled SD-WANs connect directly to major cloud providers via an onsite SD-WAN box, which offers improved performance of your cloud applications.
Meanwhile, edge-enabled SD-WAN sits at the edge of the network and involves installing hardware at the branch site with augmented edge security. Edge-based SD-WAN provides more connectivity flexibility, which is useful when working across multiple locations with different suppliers.
What benefits can SD-WAN solutions bring to multi-site businesses?
SD-WAN solutions provide organisations with extensive performance and financial benefits. There is variation in the connectivity options offered by different providers. However, the prevailing benefits include:
Prioritisation of network traffic
With centralised policies to manage traffic across multiple sites, network managers can use SD-WAN to dynamically route traffic across any available connection to the site according to its priority level. Centralised management enables bandwidth use to be optimised and provides better connectivity in the areas that need it most. In addition, SD-WAN offers 'zero-touch' programming at the site level, removing the need for manual and repetitive programming.
Improved traffic speed and stability
More traditional networking technology, such as Multiprotocol Label Switching or MPLS, usually drives traffic through a single path, causing lagging and instability. SD-WAN offers the availability of multiple paths for any type of traffic, selecting the path according to the application and its destination to improve speed, efficiency and stability.
SD-WAN solutions are an affordable way to enhance the capacity and flexibility of an organisation’s network. Direct internet links can be leveraged to support demand without the need for more expensive MPLS links.
Furthermore, SD-WAN solutions offer more time- and cost-efficient connectivity than MPLS. Its optimised, multi-point connectivity allows direct access to cloud and internet resources and secure, local access to the information required.
In comparison, MPLS uses individual connections to each organisation's site, which link to a central data centre, and backhauls traffic for processing and redistribution.
Supporting business agility
SD-WAN solutions allow organisations agility in their connectivity requirements, dynamically allocating network resources and capacity to the applications where they are most required.
Applications identified as having priority can access the bandwidth needed to deliver optimum performance, while traffic from low-priority applications can be rerouted to free up capacity.
Enhanced network security
As with traditional networking technology, SD-WAN still requires security to be overlaid as an additional solution. However, with SD-WAN solutions, standardised security policies and traffic encryption can be implemented and enforced across all network components.
Central management of network traffic via SD-WAN solutions allow companies to monitor security threats, filtering and blocking suspicious traffic without impacting the rest of the network's activity. Any security threats can then be automatically redirected and reported.
Managed SD-WAN solutions
Every organisation has specific requirements, especially when sites are spread across multiple countries, each using different networks and applications. With SD-WAN vendors all approaching the delivery of their services in different ways, using various connectivity options and add-ons, finding the perfect SD-WAN solution for your business needs can be extremely challenging.
Even once an SD-WAN solution is in place, managing and maintaining your hardware can be expensive and time-consuming, requiring the knowledge and expertise of dedicated specialists.
A managed SD-WAN solution takes care of selecting, deploying and managing the technology that ensures your network is performing optimally.
At Hughes, we take a technology-agnostic approach to our managed SD-WAN service delivery, meaning we can orchestrate the best-of-breed connectivity and platform solutions that fulfil your business objectives.
Our extensive experience in managed network services ensures a seamless transition to SD-WAN without service disruption and the hassle-free management of your deployment, leaving you free to enjoy the high availability and quality of service that SD-WAN provides.
To explore how SD-WAN can support your multi-site organisation, please get in touch with our team.