6 Benefits of SD-WAN Technology

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Networking is the backbone of multi-site organizations. Given its importance, it shouldn’t be a surprise that geographically dispersed businesses are looking for ways to streamline and improve their network connectivity.

As the needs of businesses change, they require more sophisticated networking solutions that are faster, more agile, and most importantly, secure. This translates to a rapidly evolving network infrastructure market which is led by SD-WAN.

According to research from IDC, SD-WAN technology is poised to grow at a compound annual rate of just over 30% to reach a market of $5.25 billion by 2023. As traditional WAN technologies struggle to meet the productivity demands of today’s cloud-first business market, SD-WAN is increasingly becoming the go-to for technology leaders. In addition to the simplicity and visibility provided by a virtual network, there are multiple benefits that SD-WAN provides.

In this blog, we explore SD-WAN’s advanced capabilities that make it the go-to solution for network architecture in the coming years.

What is SD-WAN?

1. Cost Control

Although implementation of SD-WAN may require a significant initial investment, the features of the technology allow for greater cost control and long-term savings over time. Additionally, with the innate flexibility of SD-WAN, you can utilize less expensive connections, such as internet or LTE.

2. Enhanced Security with Strong Encryption

With cyberattacks increasing at an alarming rate, organizations are scrambling to find ways to secure their data and protect their users. This means that they need to protect any possible gaps in their infrastructure that criminals can exploit. One key component of networking security is encryption. SD-WAN allows for the encryption of any data that is being transmitted adding a layer of data security to existing security solutions like Antivirus and firewalls.

Additionally, SD-WAN can provide network engineers with the ability to isolate security breaches by segmenting data flow. This means if a cyberattack takes place, an IT manager can segment that breach by isolating it to a particular device or network group, thus preventing it from spreading to the rest of the organization.

3. Greater Flexibility Through Policy & Traffic Routing

With cyberattacks increasing at an alarming rate, organizations are scrambling to find ways to secure their data and protect their users. This means that they need to protect any possible gaps in their infrastructure that criminals can exploit. One key component of networking security is encryption. SD-WAN allows for the encryption of any data that is being transmitted adding a layer of data security to existing security solutions like Antivirus and firewalls.

Additionally, SD-WAN can provide network engineers with the ability to isolate security breaches by segmenting data flow. This means if a cyberattack takes place, an IT manager can segment that breach by isolating it to a particular device or network group, thus preventing it from spreading to the rest of the organization.

Think of it like a highway – where trucks are assigned the right lane and cars are assigned the left. They are only allowed to travel in the assigned lane no matter the traffic conditions. This wouldn’t really make sense during office hours where there are less cars, but trucks still can’t use their lane, resulting in a traffic jam – think of this as traditional WAN. Alternatively, if these rules were removed and vehicles were allowed to flow in both lanes, traffic would be able to move faster and more efficiently. This is the kind of flexibility that the dynamic decision-making capability of SD-WAN provides.

4. Private WAN Capabilities on Public WAN Infrastructure

The nature of public WAN means that the data being shared is vulnerable to being accessed by ISPs or even hackers. In other words, public WAN isn’t very secure. Private WAN allows organizations to better secure their data and communicate between sites without any intrusion from external entities. Thanks to SD-WAN, security levels of private WAN can be achieved on public WAN infrastructure, thus increasing security.

5. Secure Cloud Access

Applications have become the core of business operations today. Poor application performance directly translates to a drop in productivity, which can compromise business revenue. It’s no secret that Cloud technology adoption is rapidly increasing. Most organizations use some kind of Cloud service like Microsoft 365 or Google Suite for their collaboration and productivity needs. SD-WAN technology allows for faster communication with these Cloud services.

However, not all SD-WAN solutions are created equal – some (like Fortinet’s) come with advanced features and provide better overall performance. An example of this is the advanced firewall capability provided by Fortinet’s SD-WAN solution that increases the security of Cloud communications from branch sites.

What is an Advanced Firewall? An advanced firewall is one that has increased security capabilities like intrusion protection, web content filtering, and antivirus, all of which boost an organization’s security posture.

Having an advanced firewall (in this case, FortiGate) at a branch site allows you to communicate with Cloud services directly from the branch with the same high level of security available from your data center. For example, a company has a branch in Ottawa, but their data center is located in Toronto. Traditional WAN would require network traffic to go from the Ottawa branch to the data center in Toronto and then to the internet. This is known as network backhauling and leads to poor Cloud application performance. Instead of having to direct traffic through the data center, the local advanced firewall allows to conduct Cloud communication (e.g. Zoom calls, Microsoft 365, G Suite) directly from the Ottawa branch; all done in a secure manner, without latency or bandwidth availability being a concern.

6. Reduced Complexity & Greater Control

With a rapidly evolving workplace comes increased complexity. Digital transformation requires implementation of new technology that boosts connectivity and productivity, increasing the complexity on networks. With traditional WAN, organizations stand the risk of poor network performance and overworked IT teams. SD-WAN can help businesses lighten the load with greater control over their WAN infrastructure. The centralized control capabilities of SD-WAN allow for automated monitoring, traffic management (as mentioned above), and offloading non-critical business applications.

Conclusion

The Workplace of the Future is going to be increasingly dependent on technology, and from a business leader’s perspective, SD-WAN is the clear choice to boost network connectivity. The cost because the benefits of incorporating evolving tech practices into your business are evident through improved performance, flexibility, security, and cost control. This is also applicable to organizational connectivity.

As organizations expand, so too do their connectivity requirements. With a growing network and the limits placed on connectivity by standard WAN technology, software-based WAN is the next step in networking. The features described above can put you as an IT Manager or business owner on the forefront of technology.

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