Why Cloud-Based Enterprise Is Embracing SD-WAN

Businesses that need to relay data to staff from various locations across the world are switching to SD-WAN (Software-Defined Wide Area Networks).

Where traditional WAN (Wide Area Networks) rely on conventional routers, SD-WAN is a cloud-based, virtual network. Tech and IT experts agree that it’s a more intelligent way to build a WAN.

Benefits include increased productivity, improved end-user quality of experience, accelerated business initiatives and lowered costs.

A relatively recent innovation, SD-WAN, is improving rapidly. Companies like Bell, winner of five awards at the Cisco Partners Summit 2018, are working to develop the tech. One of the Cisco Summit awards included awarded to Bell included Architectural Excellence: Enterprise Networking.

Geographically distributed, cloud-first enterprises of all sizes are embracing SD-WANs at an accelerating pace as they come to recognize the tech’s ability to deliver an easily attainable, tangible ROI. 


How does an SD-WAN enable the new cloud-first model?

Traditional WANs were never architected for today’s cloud-based enterprise. The old router-centric model requires backhauling all traffic—including that earmarked for the cloud—from branch offices to a hub or headquarters data center and back again.

This backhauling causes delays, which impairs application performance and leads to poor user experience and lost productivity. Employees are likely to complain that their business apps run faster at home or on their mobile devices than at the office.

Applications are increasingly cloud-based, which is where SD-WAN comes in. The new model can be used to connect users to applications across any WAN transport service, including MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching, a secure routing technique), 4G/LTE (Long-Term Evolution) and broadband internet services. These applications might be hosted in on-premise data centers, public or private clouds or third-party SaaS (Software as a Service) solutions such as Workday, Office365 and Dropbox. Enterprises can also leverage a combination of transport services.

Using software and a centralized control function, SD-WAN directs traffic across the network. Where the old model didn’t recognize differences in traffic, SD-WAN recognizes priority, quality of service and security requirements in accordance with business needs. In the old router-centric model, the control function is distributed across all devices in the network, with routers simply directing traffic based on TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol), addresses and ACLs (Access Control Lists).

SD-WAN’s more streamlined traffic performance means increased application performance. Savings come from leveraging lower WAN transport and infrastructure costs. For example, businesses can augment or replace MPLS with broadband, thereby significantly increasing WAN bandwidth while lowering overall costs. Sending SaaS and IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) traffic directly across the internet delivers the best application Quality of Experience for end users.


Security and SD-WAN

In the traditional WAN model, traffic would go through a hub or data center. There, advanced security inspection services would be applied.

In the SD-WAN model, many cloud applications and their providers natively apply robust security measures. Accessing these “trusted” applications directly from the branch provides the needed security to protect the enterprise from threats.


How to apply SD-WAN to your business

Historically, the internet was an amalgam of networks that wasn’t secure or reliable enough to meet business needs. Nor did its performance support time-sensitive or bandwidth-intensive business applications. So, enterprise has been reluctant to adopt more broadband internet connections for WAN services.

But with enterprise SD-WAN, broadband services can be more safely and efficiently used. Ideally, an all-in-one SD-WAN platform unifies SD-WAN, firewall, segmentation, routing, WAN optimization and visibility and control functions. By monitoring applications and transport resources, an SD-WAN can also quickly adapt to changing conditions.

As more enterprise business solutions move to the cloud, networking architecture is evolving to keep up with the changes. SD-WAN is the next step for enterprises that are ready to embrace a cloud-based model for a new level of flexibility and control over provisioning and delivering network services — enabling a simplified network infrastructure that optimizes operations and reduces hardware expenditures.


Are you looking to learn more?

Bell VNS offers a catalogue of virtual network functions delivered as software to a single device installed at the site. This fully managed SD-WAN solution helps to intelligently route applications and improve their performance on the WAN – putting actionable insights at the center of your wide-area networking strategy. Visit the Bell Business Markets website for more information.