You may have heard of the term “SDWAN” recently and how it is touted as the next big thing in wide area network (WAN) management. Because conventional enterprise-class WANs are consistently being plagued by high bandwidth costs, infrastructure complexity, and numerous performance speed bumps, more and more businesses are now looking into this alternative, which promises to deliver improved agility, better performance, and lower costs. But what exactly is SDWAN, and why is it suddenly gaining the attention of businesses?

SDWAN—otherwise known as software-defined wide area network—is a smart approach to WAN deployment that takes advantage of virtualization in order to overcome the challenges presented by legacy WAN methods such as using MPLS networks. Although SDWAN features can vary from one vendor to another, SDWAN products have common features that make them better, in general, compared to traditional wide area network approaches. Here are some of these features:

They Are Transport Agnostic and Use Bandwidth Efficiently

An SDWAN works by dynamically routing network traffic such that they opt for the best paths according to the current status of the network. Instead of just relying on costly leased MPLS circuits, SDWAN can use less expensive services like broadband for sending and receiving non-critical data, which typically constitutes the bulk of corporate data. A good SDWAN vendor can provide consistent WAN built on and routed over any transport service, whether MPLS, broadband, 4G/Long-Term Evolution (LTE), VSAT, and so on.

Because of the efficient use of bandwidth, your business can enjoy more bandwidth in multiple locations. You’ll be able to leverage this transport-agnostic performance to effectively use bandwidth-intensive applications for the benefit of your business.

They Reduce Network Complexity

One of the biggest challenges being faced by organizations that rely on traditional WAN deployments is operational and infrastructural complexity. Such legacy WANs use a variety of devices and appliances connecting through different links. As such, networking personnel can spend many months making manual configurations and implementing even basic modifications to control requirements. This inefficient method serves as a major roadblock to the deployment of new applications, the provisioning of new branches, or even the implementation of new policies and services across the enterprise.

With SDWAN simplifying the configuration and orchestration processes, provisioning time is considerably reduced. Vendors typically employ zero-touch provisioning procedures that help drastically lower the operational costs associated with device activations and maintenance.

They Are Cloud-Ready and Cloud-Optimized

The dynamic, bandwidth-intensive, and complex requirements of today’s cloud-based and real-time applications means that traditional WAN set-ups where traffic is backhauled through the enterprise datacenter is no longer optimal.

Because SDWAN provides easy access to applications through the cloud, there is reduced necessity to create dedicated links to enterprise data centers. Controllers can be hosted in the cloud so that end-users can simply log in to a central dashboard and efficiently manage all aspects of the SDWAN lifecycle, beginning from initial provisioning to ongoing monitoring and upgrading.

In Conclusion

With SDWAN, enterprises can take advantage of an abstracted, more efficient, and more optimized wide area network that streamlines IT processes and helps improve their bottom line. While the benefits of low-cost enterprise-class bandwidth coupled with security, simple provisioning, and easy management may tempt you to quickly migrate to an SDWAN, it is important to first consider the unique needs of your business. This will help you ensure that you really are getting the right solutions that will be advantageous to your organization.

By Kar

Dr. Kar works in the interface of digital transformation and data science. Professionally a professor in one of the top B-Schools of Asia and an alumni of XLRI, he has extensive experience in teaching, training, consultancy and research in reputed institutes. He is a regular contributor of Business Fundas and a frequent author in research platforms. He is widely cited as a researcher. Note: The articles authored in this blog are his personal views and does not reflect that of his affiliations.

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