Using the Internet to capitalize on productivity is an going effort for companies, universities, and government agencies already, with software helping drive the latest generation in products. This shift means most companies are looking for some type of digital transformation, but often are uncertain how to go about it successfully.
Software-powered digital tools help companies scale their services, and react to potential day-to-day roadblocks in a significantly more efficient manner. Ideally, new digital products should optimize routing and reduce network latency between users and the cloud services they log into and use on a daily basis. The obvious SD-WAN value proposition is focused on the network becoming smarter, while assets are optimized without adding a pile of expensive new equipment into the mix.
Traditionally, implementing wide area network (WAN) hardware in the headquarters and remote offices proved to be expensive and time-consuming. WANs often used both public and private circuits paired with proprietary hardware to create an infrastructure which could be accessed by employees. Network administrators struggled with multiple tools required to monitor traffic to ensure the database remained online and functional.
Realistically, network optimization is a dynamic task that will never directly end, but can be managed a lot faster, easier, and cheaper using an SD-WAN instead of a traditional WAN network.
However, the rapid rise in software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) has created an ideal method for businesses to adapt to decentralization, with workers physically dispersed in remote offices and working from home.
SD-WAN presents a highly-configurable software-based offering capable of routing network traffic across the WAN. Deploying an SD-WAN is easier since the automation tools don’t force IT workers to be sent to offices to constantly babysit the networks. And multiple WAN connectivity types are now transferred into a lone virtual product that makes maintenance a much easier endeavor.
All application network data is monitored and tracked for performance, with automated reports sent back to IT managers. However, the SD-WAN can be configured so business needs can be prioritized and additional bandwidth is allocated to high-volume locations. This scalability is a major selling point to maximize the potential of their network. It’s important to remember that not all network traffic is going to be the same, and the subtle differences should be appreciated.
Even for companies with current SD-WAN deployments, there always tends to be some changes and modifications that can be made here and there. For example, some IT teams are adding traffic screening solutions at the entry points of their networks, which helps further secure their networks from outside intrusion. This flexible security is especially helpful with an increasing number of workers functioning in the cloud.
In today’s office environment, many companies turn to multi-protocol label switching (MPLS), though is significantly more expensive than SD-WAN. Its agility means SD-WAN can route traffic using current MPLS circuits, in addition to LTE, broadband, and other public Internet outlets. Also, embracing cloud computing or a hybrid approach of on-prem and cloud-based services also helps reduce overall incurred costs.
Companies look for strategies to improve worker productivity and customer satisfaction, so the lure of being able to reduce workload on IT teams is appealing. However, IT managers must work with vendors to outline the strategy to make sure network data is properly prioritized.
Looking ahead, growth of the SD-WAN market should only increase further, with the market expected to increase from $1.4 billion in 2019 up to $43 billion by 2030, according to predictions by Prescient & Strategic Intelligence. The migration from MPLS to SD-WAN is already underway – and will continue – though all new implementations should be done carefully.
Software will continue to be a major innovator in how companies deploy their hardware solutions, as evidenced by the rapid adoption of SD-WAN technology. The speed and agility of SD-WAN solutions may shift in the future, but it’s up to IT managers and decision makers to clearly outline their goals – and what steps they believe are necessary to keep their network infrastructures running efficiently.
The primary objective should always be to offer a simple business-class, secure and robust network for employees to take advantage of.
SD-WAN will remain an important piece of the puzzle to help companies with their successful digital transformation efforts. The potential business value cannot be ignored, and can help facilitate the delivery of cloud solutions to remote workers in a streamlined manner. Don’t be afraid of the software-driven digital transformation, but practice due diligence to properly research the pros and cons involved.
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