It is rapidly changing the role of the enterprise network in digital everything. Businesses aren’t going to be able to drill through walls and claim the office where they can install more switches. SD-WAN and other heroes have arrived on the scene. As technology advances, so does its application case. It will become more than a high-speed, software-defined network.
How did the Network become Software?
Software-defined everything is appealing because it allows you to build something in software, and then roll it out without any constraints. SD-WAN was first introduced to the market because it was more efficient than MPLS and promised ease of deployment. While the main driver of its popularity was its cost, businesses need to balance its use with a solid business use case. It is unnecessary to have dedicated MPLS connections for small offices in different locations. Fiber is ubiquitous today and many cities are connected. SD-WAN can often be a cost-savings option, but it’s not always a good idea. The reason fiber is used has changed from being a cost-saving tool to being more agile.
SD-WAN is software-centric and allows users to quickly respond to change (with agility). Applications flow, firewalls and security are all part of the network’s routing. Because it allows for automation and self-service, agility is vital. Users today want to control their environment and be less dependent on service providers. SD-WAN, by its very nature, simplifies the management and operation of the WAN.
SD-WAN brings your systems closer to IT. This agility allows teams to log in and make changes as they go along with network policy changes. It is not a software platform, but it can be used to build mobile apps. This meant that it took some technical knowledge to get it working optimally. SD-WAN has advanced and is much easier to deploy.
What does SD-WAN fix?
We aren’t building huge datacenters that connect multiple countries with complicated MPLS networks, just as we don’t feed hungry mainframes from the basement. SD-WAN is simplifying IT teams by simplifying the cloud. Why? Because SD-WAN uses a cloud-native architecture and doesn’t require centralizing IT resources before it can access the cloud. Although you can access the cloud using your MPLS network you will need to centralize all IT assets first.
SD-WAN allows you to move your branch offices directly to the cloud, without any need for centralization. This is a major mindset shift for IT professionals who are still attached to complicated routing topologies and their tin. This is a shift in network or IT operating models, but it’s also a driver for SD-WAN’s success in the future, as it provides customers with the agility and flexibility that they desire.
Talk to any user of hyperconverged architecture in their datacenter and they will tell y you that legacy networks are often the ones preventing cloud-based data center deployments. Traffic is slowed down by aging networks, and they are responsible for creating latency in places where it shouldn’t. This is another reason to use SD-WAN.
Businesses with SD-WAN in play saw immediate benefits when workers moved quickly from the boardroom to their living rooms. Security was the first. The second was security. It was a lot like purchasing accessories for the prom gown after you have bought it. It’s easy to add it wherever you need it. Some are useful, others are for your peace of mind. Others are there because you have to. SD-WAN enables security and networking operations to converge, making the management of security and network operations intrinsically part of the software layer. Security is now part of the fabric.
Second, agility. Users who work from home require network agility. IT teams need to have better control over networks that connect people’s offices, homes, and clouds. Security is better when there’s more control.
Where to Next?
SD-WAN solutions offer incredible scale and will be able to deliver real-time, on demand connectivity.
SD-WAN solutions must also be improved in the “looks”, allowing for greater functionality and ease of use. This will require the addition of tools like AI and machine learning that will help to expand the intelligent edge.
These networks will become more intelligent in the near future. Apps will begin to complete their own SLAs. Networks will be able to better understand where packet loss is occurring and how it can dynamically be corrected.
In summary, SD-WAN’s evolution is certain and will be influenced by many factors. Looking ahead to 2022, we can expect agility, on-demand and fluid bandwidth innovations. Cloud-native security and security enhancements will also be happening.