It’s no secret that cloud connectivity is becoming a must for modern businesses as they connect to employees, consumers, machines, and other businesses anywhere, anytime. With the rise of edge networks and our collective digital transformation, Frank Cittadino, SVP, Edge Services at Zayo Group, discusses the journey to date, the current state of the art, and the future benefits of SD-WAN.
A key component of modern connectivity, SD-WAN enables “anywhere operations” and enables direct end-user-to-cloud traffic with speed, performance, reliability, and security. How did we get to the point where SD-WAN became critical to business operations, and what does the future hold?
The trip so far
Before SD-WAN came to the fore as a network solution, the communications infrastructure was piecemeal. Organizations had an MPLS network in physical locations, different fiber connections to hyper scalers and a VPN connection to the end user. With the growth of digitization and cloud computing, operations beyond physical, centralized data centers began. The market shifted towards cloud because 1) MPLS operates an expensive and inefficient hub and spoke design and 2) MPLS hides from the cloud because it is based on private networks and not on an open encrypted network. Enter SD-WAN, a more modern solution for evolving businesses that offers a cloud-first model, last-mile circuit remediation, automated network control with strong security, and an enhanced economic model. As our society evolves,
Edge networking is a hot topic, and technology built where customers are—at the edge—can unlock the power and value of the cloud. What is driving this growth? Users want solutions that deliver data quickly and ubiquitously across the enterprise. Technologies like SD-WAN that unlock multi-cloud opportunities, enhance security options, take us away from legacy hub-and-spoke networks, and enable greater productivity at lower costs with greater customer satisfaction.
Three advantages of SD-WAN
Even before the global pandemic brought about rapid digital transformation, companies realized that software could improve processes and speed up manual tasks. But that was still physically connected in a world where people were mostly in the office every day. Now the question is, “How do we stay connected from anywhere in the world?” SD-WAN offers flexibility, security, and economic solutions that didn’t exist before.
As public cloud providers entered the mainstream, they didn’t interfere with enterprise private networks. It worked, but it was prohibitively expensive, time-consuming, and lacked capacity. Startups started introducing software and immediately opened up avenues for network connectivity, like Uber and Airbnb did for transportation and travel. With software built at the edge, where the customers are, organizations can leverage the scalability and value of cloud connectivity to increase agility.
SD-WAN creates a large network of connected devices – how to protect private data from hackers? SD-WAN protects data with a mix of essential features including:
- IPsec encrypted tunnels for transferring information between sites
- Micro-segmentation to separate less secure traffic from sensitive information
- Threat detection services built on the secure edge to identify and mitigate threats
The introduction of software to the WAN that can improve the quality of a commodity circuit was a game changer. SD-WAN has taken circuits costing thousands of dollars a month and given them the characteristics of a secure leased line at a fraction of the price by improving packet behavior in the face of problems such as latency, packet loss or jitter. Software saves valuable resources by increasing network performance and has improved last mile performance by over 30% on the most common network problems.
In today’s business environment, there simply isn’t time to deal with a costly, inefficient, fragmented communications infrastructure. company needs hen speed, performance, reliability and safety to be competitive. SD-WAN optimizes traffic and strengthens network connectivity by enabling a single global overlay going directly from the end user to the cloud. The software facilitates the location-independent connection from a laptop, a retail store or a product showroom that gives businesses an edge.
Key considerations for SD-WAN
While the widespread adoption of SD-WAN is more of a when than if, it still poses challenges for organizations:
Setting up new routers and dedicated connections to the hyper scalers is inefficient and requires a workaround for routing traffic from the edge to the cloud. In a standard routing environment, this is more difficult.
Legacy network systems like MPLS tend to be complex due to a lack of automation, while modern options like SD-WAN are much more abstract and less consolidated.
Security can be an afterthought, not a part of integral design in legacy routing environments. SD-WAN security is built into every step of the architecture, resulting in a more assertive security posture.
When moving from legacy networks to software-driven solutions, it’s important to ask a few additional questions:
- With my global architecture, is over-the-top or network-based right for me?
- How do I improve my digital transformation roadmap with SD-WAN to better leverage cloud architecture and improve end-user experience?
- Which applications need support and how can I secure these applications with the many security options available?
The future of SD-WAN is multi-cloud
SD-WAN is moving in the same direction as the rest of our world – cloud-native and cloud-delivered. Given the myriad capabilities of the aforementioned cloud – performance, economics, reliability, security, and scalability – multi-cloud is likely to be an important goal for SD-WAN. As many employers permanently adopt a hybrid or remote workplace model, cloud-native technology becomes desk-top; It is powered by 5G, a key mobility driver to connect users to overlays and hyper scalers via the cloud. 5G supports secure, reliable global connectivity.
Many may now feel that they have heard everything about digital transformation. But in reality, digital transformation is a never-ending process. Breakthrough technologies are changing the way we live our daily lives. It’s not always clear what the next big breakthrough will be, but we do know one thing: software is the future, and the cloud will bring it to life. For businesses, top SD-WAN Vendors is changing the game. Those who embrace a high-performing, reliable, and secure software-driven connection will gain a competitive advantage now and for years to come.
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