SD-WAN - what is it?

You may have heard about SD-WAN, one of the fastest-growing tech sectors. In fact, Research and Markets estimates that the global SD-WAN market is poised to reach $7.1 billion by 20261.

The reason is simple: software-defined WAN allows organisations to extend their network capabilities to branch offices, mobile and remote users, and into the cloud quickly and easily.

But what exactly is SD-WAN and why might it be a strong option for your business? Let’s dig in.

What is SD-WAN?

SD-WAN is a software-defined wide area network. Unlike traditional WAN networks, which have been mainly based on private network or MPLS (multi-protocol label switching) technologies, SD-WAN is an overlay solution that provides intelligent routing of a business’ application traffic to optimise user experience and can make use of both internet and private network links used to connect a business' datacentre, head office, and branch sites.

Traditional WANs are based on conventional routers. At organisations where SaaS, teleconferencing, and remote working have become more popular, WANs have often delivered a poor user experience — blame it on the fact that traditional WANs backhaul all traffic, even what’s meant for the cloud, from branch offices to a data centre hub. The strain can lead to bandwidth bottlenecks and degraded application performance, frustrating employees, and leading to lost productivity. Enter SD-WAN.

SD-WANs allow businesses to use whatever data service links and technologies that are available at their sites, including MPLS, internet, and 4G/5G, instead of being forced to use a single specific one. In fact, the best SD-WAN solutions seamlessly merge different data link technologies, allowing each site to get the best performance and uptime.

Since SD-WAN doesn’t rely on a single network link like traditional WANs, there’s a lower risk of a link outage taking down your entire network. Instead, SD-WAN re-routes application traffic to the next available link, reconfiguring itself across the network to maintain optimal throughput and user experience. SD-WAN solutions can be transport- and carrier-agnostic, so organisations can deploy them over high-speed public internet or wireless connections, including satellite.

Simplified management, higher performance

SD-WAN optimises mission-critical business processes such as email, ERP, IP-telephony, and cloud-based services with carrier-grade speeds. IT and network managers can deploy new services, add new users, devices, and branches more easily and rapidly compared to traditional WANs.

It also simplifies the management and operation of a WAN by decoupling the networking hardware from its control mechanism, so control of the overall WAN service is via a dedicated portal and the network links become multiple pathways to deliver application traffic to optimise user experience.

The International Data Corporation estimates that the Australian SD-WAN infrastructure market will have an annual growth rate (CAGR) of 29.6% (from 2021 to 2024)2. SD-WAN is an innovative approach to networking that can help businesses save on bandwidth costs through efficiencies in their underlying links, eliminating complexity, and increasing capacity.

A key feature of SD-WAN is that it allows enterprises to build higher-performance WANs using commercially available internet data services at branch locations. This is achieved through direct access to SaaS and cloud applications which reduces network latency and potential bottlenecks, which can traditionally occur where traffic was sent to a head office or datacentre.

Security and SD-WAN

Many businesses are leaving their SD-WAN architectures vulnerable to misuse and attacks. Over the 2020–21 financial year, the Australian Cyber Security Centre received over 67,500 cybercrime reports, an increase of nearly 13 per cent from the previous financial year3.

SD-WAN alone doesn’t address security; security must be added. This is a result of the overlay network which is created and having more threat points to manage. To establish and secure an SD-WAN branch office, IT and network managers must install, configure, and maintain both the SD-WAN appliance as well as a firewall. Some SD-WAN vendors will integrate security capabilities into the SD-WAN device. However, we often see businesses utilise multiple vendors with different licensing models, adding further complexity into the solution.

Managed SD-WAN from Vocus tightly integrates all the networking functionality inherent in SD-WAN with the security features of a next-generation firewall. It’s built on Fortinet’s market-leading Secure SD-WAN technology. It incorporates security services to detect unknown attacks before they can corrupt your network, and advanced threat protection to defend against known exploits, malware, and malicious websites.

Compelling SD-WAN solutions offer integrated security that works in unison with intelligent networking to ensure application performance is optimised, any threats are mitigated in real time, and businesses have visibility and rich insights into their wide area network.

Network visibility and analytics

Having visibility of underlying network performance and analytics are critically important for SD-WAN deployments. It is important that IT staff have insights into the health of their network links and visibility of how application traffic is being routed through the network so that they can make informed decisions to optimise performance.

With the rising volume of cyber-attacks, it's important that your business is protected from the latest threats and malware, with the ability to review past logs and incidents, and take corrective action. With Vocus' Managed SD-WAN solution, our experts will proactively monitor the health of your network, addressing issues as they arise and, often, before you even notice them.

Who SD-WAN is most beneficial for?

Vocus Managed SD-WAN is perfect for businesses of any size that need scalable and professional management of their WAN. We will design and implement your solution, as well as provide ongoing support and monitoring of your services across your sites.

When you’re ready to add Managed SD-WAN to your IT solution, speak to us by clicking the link below or contact us on 1300 991 386.

  1. Global SD-WAN Market Research Report 2021-2026. Research and Markets. 2021.
  2. Australian SD-WAN Infrastructure Market Landscape 2020. International Data Corporation. 2020.
  3. ACSC Annual Cyber Threat Report 2020-21. Australian Cyber Security Centre. 2021.