The transition to businesses using cloud-based applications is driving the need for a new approach to their IT network management.
Traditional wide-area networks (WANs) were not designed to work with the cloud. They can introduce a lag that affects the user experience and reduces productivity. That’s where software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) comes in.
The SD-WAN market grew by 50% in the fourth quarter of 2020 and continues to expand in 2021. The shift to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the need to manage a large number of network connections.
What is SD-WAN? What are the benefits of SD-WAN over traditional WAN? Read on to find out how SD-WAN can increase productivity while reducing costs.
Wide-area networks connect enterprise IT operations in different locations. They link corporate networks with international offices, data centers, and remote employees. They can connect to any user on any device. WANs are hardware-based and managed via routers.
SD-WAN is the next step in the development of WAN technology, implementing software-defined networking (SDN) in a WAN.
SD-WAN shifts from a device-based approach to managing networks with software. SD-WAN solutions allow IT staff to manage distributed networks from a central point.
Wide-area networks use highly reliable Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) circuits. But they backhaul traffic to the central office or data center before relaying it. This generates high volumes of traffic. And it causes delays in connections between the user and the cloud.
SD-WAN avoids lag by sending traffic straight to the cloud via the most efficient circuit. Software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers tend to operate high-capacity, secure circuits. This enhances application performance.
Types of SD-WAN
There are two main types of SD-WAN configuration: active-active and active-passive. Both create network redundancy to ensure continuous uptime. What is the difference?
An active-active setup uses two or more continuous WAN connections. How? Data traffic travels over the most appropriate connection depending on the real-time status of the network.
The SD-WAN prioritizes traffic based on the best route for the application. That limits data losses and maintains a high-quality user experience.
An active-passive setup uses a single WAN connection with a secondary circuit as a backup. If the active connection fails, the traffic switches to the passive circuit.
Benefits of SD-WAN
There are many benefits to businesses using SD-WAN solutions to manage their networks. Let’s look at five of them.
Quality of Service (QoS)
SD-WANs enable continuous monitoring of a range of connection types. This includes MPLS, broadband, long-term evolution (LTE), 4G, and WiFi.
The software tracks the network to identify congestion or outages. It then directs traffic over the most efficient route, limiting data packet losses. This improves the user experience, and in turn, increases employee productivity.
Such redundancy is crucial for business continuity if a connection goes down.
SD-WANs were designed to work in a cloud-first environment. So, they offer a better quality of experience for SaaS applications. They work best when they use MPLS as one of the circuit types rather than replacing it.
One of the reasons enterprises use WANs rather than the public Internet is data security. SD-WANs offer increased security, as IT managers have centralized control. They can configure devices throughout the network all at once. And they can apply the most up-to-date applications and security patches.
SD-WAN security integrates virtual private networks (VPNs). These create encrypted tunnels between each point on the network. It also includes features like firewalls and filtering. That reduces the likelihood of malicious attacks exploiting weaknesses. This is especially important as the number of end-users connecting to the network grows.
SD-WANs can also segment traffic based on application and security needs. This allows businesses to apply different levels of security to different types of traffic. They can also isolate and contain security threats without affecting other applications.
The benefits of SD-WAN security are becoming evident as businesses face more malicious attacks than ever before.
SD-WANs are cost-effective because they streamline network management. In what ways? They reduce the need for expensive hardware routers as the software takes over. And they reduce the number of costly MPLS connections needed as they send data over public links.
The virtual, centralized control also means there is less need for IT staff to configure physical devices on-site.
Using software to manage the network allows IT teams to set up network devices automatically. How? SD-WAN uses zero-touch provisioning (ZTP) for remote configuration. That allows teams to create new connections in hours rather than days or even weeks.
Automation allows businesses to become more agile. They can respond to changing network requirements as they grow.
SD-WANs are flexible as they direct traffic over the most optimal connection path. How? They give priority to mission-critical applications and send other traffic over secondary routes.
IT managers can configure networks to prioritize video and voice traffic. In that way, they can maintain call quality even when network bandwidth varies. This is becoming critical with remote workers using video conferencing to stay in touch.
SD-WAN solutions like Sevone monitoring give IT departments increased visibility into the network. This helps to identify and fix connectivity issues. It can also ease the transition from an MPLS-based WAN architecture to a hybrid approach that is more suited to today’s business needs.
Make the Transition to SD-WAN to Improve Productivity
The benefits of SD-WAN are becoming clearer as businesses shift towards remote working.
Employees are using cloud-based applications more and more to communicate and collaborate. SD-WAN aims to address the shortcomings of older technology in this new model. Businesses can manage and monitor networks from a central point. This reduces costs while enhancing security.
If you are looking for more ways you can increase productivity in your business, check out the technology section of the blog.