Software-Defined Networking in a Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) has become an increasingly popular solution when it comes to tackling the complexities that come with remote working and cloud-based applications, both of which have surged in 2020 in no small part to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This as Mulla explains is because, “traditional network architectures weren’t designed to handle the workloads or growing complexities that come with the new digital age and lack the visibility and flexibility IT managers need when overseeing an entire network.”
Businesses are leaning into the agility that SD-WAN affords over traditional network solutions, the senior product manager (pictured in header image) explains.
“When critical business processes rely on various Internet service providers or are distributed across multiple clouds, SD-WAN provides overall visibility of the entire network and allows you to improve end user experience, optimise bandwidth usage, bolster network security, and improve cloud application performance.”
Further unpacking SD-WAN’s rise to prominence of late, Mulla notes that traditional WANs are typically quite rigid and make it difficult for businesses to adopt a multi-vendor strategy.
“While these methods offer limited visibility or control over an entire network, SD-WAN gives you the oversight and the agility to manage traffic over each individual connection. It can also result in cost savings as SD-WAN can move non-critical WAN traffic from more costly private MPLS network paths onto lower-cost broadband Internet,” he adds.
In terms of how this benefits the business, Mulla points out that if an Internet connection goes down for example, IT managers can immediately identify which provider they need to contact, while allowing the system to automatically divert traffic to critical applications without having to reconfigure routers or gateways on an individual basis.
Such functionality would prove highly beneficial to retailers with internet-dependent point of sale setups, or really any business on which transactions or capabilities hinge off of constant and reliable internet connectivity.
“SD-WAN helps by diverting bandwidth away from non-critical applications and towards essential functions (like those point-of-sale applications) so that customer experience is unaffected,” says Mulla.
The SEACOM senior product manager also highlights how SD-WAN can play a role in terms of cloud migration. This as managing different cloud environments and integrating them into an MPLS network presents significant challenges for network architects, according to Mulla.
An evolutionary path
“While broadband Internet could provide additional bandwidth at a lower cost for essential cloud services, this solution lacks the security and reliability of MPLS. SD-WAN solves both problems by creating an overlay across any and all connectivity options to ensure that the cloud applications can be managed with the necessary flexibility and security,” he points out.
Sticking with security, SD-WAN as advantages over its traditional counterpart in that respect too, as out of date WANs are no longer an effective solution as they do not have data encryption, visibility, or control. Mulla notes that SD-WAN is on an evolutionary path when it comes to network security.
“More partnerships between SD-WAN vendors and security companies are emerging, bringing built-in security into a company’s network solution. As the SD-WAN ecosystem evolves, many of the inherent SD-WAN security components are beginning to match dedicated security hardware or software solutions as well, which is an important factor to consider when looking at the overall SD-WAN eco-system,” he emphasises.
Looking to the rest of the year, Mulla stresses the importance of businesses looking for the right fit in terms of SD-WAN, as not all are created equal and each vendor’s offering carries with it different pros and cons, so identifying the correct partner is key.
“Many organisations that do want to move over to SD-WAN are unable to do so because they are tied up in long-term contracts with VPN or MPLS providers. Buying your way out of them is not always an affordable option, but you can try negotiating to gradually shift contracts from traditional VPN network solutions to Internet connectivity instead. That way, businesses might not have to delay cutting data traffic costs and adding vital improvements to their network until their contract runs out years down the line,” he concludes.
With the current business landscape showing no signs of changing from its unpredictable state, SD-WAN looks to be an increasingly important networking solution to adopt.