Is SD-WAN right for your business?

Posted on January 16, 2019

Sd Wan

Software-defined wide-area network (SD-WAN) is rising up the charts like a rocket. The reasons are simple: it’s an automated approach to enterprise network connectivity and allows organisations to make the best use of software defined technologies, to optimise network performance.  

SD-WAN usually creates a hybrid network model for businesses, combining public broadband, private network links (or MPLS) and high-speed wireless communications. The technology is smart because it routes your data traffic in the most efficient way, depending on network conditions. This brings plenty of flexibility and cost-effectiveness, but also some challenges your team needs to consider before diving in.

Streamlining your IT

SD-WAN is appealing because it simplifies your network management administration. It’s much easier to manage than legacy WANs, by basically moving network management to the cloud. Like most new virtualised technologies, this means your business isn’t relying on a physical network all the time but a combination of network paths and routing.

For this reason, SD-WAN is particularly useful to businesses that have multiple offices or locations. For instance, your IT team can enjoy network-wide control and visibility through a centralised interface. The system can communicate with all network endpoints without the need for external technology or additional protocols.

What are the challenges?

While SD-WAN has clear benefits, there are some companies that are proceeding cautiously. That’s fair enough because your business needs to be ready for SD-WAN and only an expert network provider can guide you through the process.

One of the main hurdles is understanding the transition to both physical and virtualised technologies. The automation of a virtualised environment is great, but it’s also a cultural shift for many teams. For example, in moving to SD-WAN, what would the impact be to your everyday processes?

It’s critically important for businesses considering SD-WAN to define and understand what they’d like to achieve from the technology.

There are currently numerous vendors offering SD-WAN based solutions within the market and without careful consideration and testing it’s very easy to get lost in the technology and benefits offered by each product set.

Get the planning right, and ensure you have clear objectives and addressed network architecture under the software layer, and there are real benefits to be had.

Of course, different companies will have their own challenges given that their technologies are at varied stages. There’s also the question of overall business readiness because SD-WAN moves the responsibility of service to the customer side, away from the carrier.

And here is where the risk creeps in. Any SLAs for your network can be compromised when routing is bypassed via SD-WAN.

By contrast, a carrier will be responsible and optimise traditional WAN routing, making it operationally simpler than managing a wider-reaching network with virtualised paths. Again, a network expert is needed to help with this assessment and can determine if SD-WAN will work for your business, or just amplify the mess that’s already there and cost you a lot of money in the process.

What’s next?

But there is definitely a place for SD-WAN with, the potential benefits, when defined and properly architected, SD-WAN’s popularity will continue to grow. In fact, researchers like IDC are reporting a huge uptake of this technology. Indeed, many businesses are already enjoying the advantages of SD-WAN, which include support for multi-tenancy, scalability and improved access to cloud-based applications.

There’s also the fact that in the past, a large infrastructure upgrade would require hands on IT support and therefore plenty of downtime. However, SD-WAN gives a business control immediately and centrally. There are clearly many pluses, should your organisation also feel comfortable with the challenges.

Our team at Vocus can help you to understand if your business can realise the benefits of a move to SD-WAN. Give us a call and talk to one of our experts today on 1300 88 99 88.

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