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Is SD the WAN We’ve Been Waiting For?

Glenn Akester

Network Architect at Node4

There’s always a bit of a song and dance about new technologies. What can we say? We in the industry like shiny new things, and that’s what drives us to innovate. The question for most of these new solutions, however, is whether the customers are as enthusiastic as vendors, after the dust has settled and it’s all installed and running.

Are they, to stick with the musical theme, dancing all the way to the bank, due to significant cost savings and performance improvements? Or are they feeling Les Misérables with its performance? (Sorry – we’ll stop now).

So where does SD-WAN sit within this spectrum? For the most part, it offers some real benefits. Whilst it won’t be the best thing since sliced bread for every single business and won’t necessarily offer massive cost savings, a huge amount will benefit from improved flexibility, security, control, visibility and manageability when deploying this new and improved WAN solution. One reason for this is that businesses will no longer have to rely solely on MPLS but can also utilise broadband, 3G and 4G, making the most of every bit of bandwidth at their disposal, without compromising on reliability and only using MPLS for high priority traffic.

Blending internet with MPLS allows direct access to public cloud and SaaS services, supporting cloud first IT strategies. This is an area where there can be cost and time savings as there is no requirement to use centralised internet bandwidth from the data centre unless absolutely necessary.

The fact that SD-WAN can be centrally managed is huge. Application updates can be made just once, saving time, chance of human error and making the business more agile, competitive and responsive to opportunities.

Setting up a new branch or remote office can also be organised in minutes using a combination of automation and zero touch provisioning, it’s clear to see the ROI that this delivers. It allows for a leaner team, which can easily be achieved when no IT staff are needed to visit a new branch to set it up. It also means that remote locations can be delivered at real speed.

This is also a brilliant benefit for any businesses interested in M&A as it allows two companies to merge their networks with minimal lead times.

Central management means that the solution’s next-generation security function is also easier to manage, there is a consistent security policy in place, and a full suite of next generation features at each branch, this is important as all branches now have direct internet connectivity. These features can also be used to provide internal segmentation and secure communications between branch sites. Alongside this, end-to-end network visibility means engineers can spot and alleviate problems quickly. This improves performance and thwarts any problems before you or your customers feel them, helping to bullet-proof your profits and brand. The software itself minimizes disruption by monitoring the network, then segmenting parts of it which are experiencing a flaw and intelligently rerouting traffic to make the most of what is available based on the application.

If you’re unsure if it’s worth the change for your business, get in touch and we can talk you through the pros and cons that SD-WAN will deliver to you, given the solutions that you already have in place.

At Node4, we know that none of our customers are the same, so we avoid suggesting that every solution and product makes sense for you. To out-perform competitors, you need the exact tech configuration to help you meet your business goals, and if you don’t yet know what that is, we’re happy to help you out.

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