Although inflation and supply chain disruptions dominate the economic landscape, consumer expectations continue to grow, demanding an accelerated digital transformation from organizations of all sizes. Faced with financial and supply limitations, companies must find ways to maximize their technology expenditures to deliver the best return on investment. Every dollar must contribute to their short-term survival and long-term viability.
Software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs) are a technology that can optimize infrastructures to address today’s business challenges. SD-WANs can benefit an organization through improved performance, enhanced security, and simplified management. With their ability to support multiple connection types simultaneously, SD-WAN solutions can deliver cost-effective Internet of Things (IoT ) connectivity with end-to-end visibility for greater flexibility and agility.
Consider the top eight benefits to understand how SD-WANs can support business needs.
1. Improved Performance
SD-WAN separates network control from the underlying hardware. Centralized management and policy control enable SD-WAN applications to prioritize business-critical traffic in real time without impacting overall network performance.
With SD-WAN, network traffic is not restricted to one transport method, such as multiprotocol label switching (MPLS). Instead, the application can route messages over various communication channels, including multi-cloud environments. While SD-WAN delivers on-premise control of MPLS, 5G, and the internet, it also works in the hybrid space to address growing demands for higher performance.
Unlike conventional networks, SD-WAN can securely route traffic to the cloud without going through a central on-premise connection. Traffic from remote locations can be sent directly to a cloud-based application, increasing the speed at which data is sent and received. A centralized control panel lets network administrators set policies to secure critical communications.
Related: SD-WAN and SASE: How Do They Relate?
SD-WAN technology assesses the availability of each channel to determine the most cost-effective way to transport traffic in real time. For example, the network could route the communication through a wireless or broadband connection if MPLS is unavailable to deliver priority data. Alternatively, the application might send the request over MPLS at a reduced speed if it is a low-priority transmission. Flexible connectivity allows an SD-WAN to operate at maximum efficiency.
2. Reduced Cost
Companies that rely on cloud-based SD-WAN platforms do not need to invest in WAN hardware, saving on purchase and maintenance expenses. They also save on operating costs as network management is moved to platform providers. SD-WAN can facilitate a hybrid environment through deployment at different segments of the architecture, allowing companies to realize some SD-WAN-provided cost savings.
SD-WAN technology can automatically send traffic through the most cost-effective path based on routing policies. Adjusting traffic flow dynamically can make network management more efficient and increase productivity while reducing telecommunication costs. With more capacity, network traffic flows more smoothly, thus reducing support calls that IT must field.
IT departments can spend less time managing and troubleshooting network operations with a software-defined configuration, freeing them to address higher-priority tasks. IT can interact with the hardware remotely, making adjustments through a centralized orchestrator. Reducing network management complexity increases network reliability and lowers operating costs.
3. Simplified Management
Most organizations construct their networks to keep pace with their growth. That means starting with a single location with a network of firewalls, routers, and VPN concentrators. IT staff configure each device individually whenever a change is required. Keeping track of the changes and ensuring no conflicts are created adds to your personnel’s time spent on network management.
When a second office opens, the LAN becomes a WAN connecting two locations with similar local hardware. While network administrators might interact with devices remotely, they often have to be onsite to reconfigure and test the changes. Traveling between locations only increases the time to make a policy change. Traditional WANs make it difficult for companies to achieve the agility needed to remain competitive.
SD-WAN applications reside above the hardware layer, allowing administrators to establish policies from a centralized panel and deploy them across the network. The devices respond to the rules, eliminating the need to manage individual devices separately. As network infrastructures expand to include hybrid environments and multiple endpoints, IT staff need SD-WAN tools to simplify the complexities for more reliable operations.
SD-WAN gateways use different connection types to balance workloads and improve performance. A centralized view of connectivity simplifies administration and facilitates troubleshooting when challenges arise. With the increased move toward cloud environments and ongoing deployment of hybrid infrastructures, organizations need a single panel that enables quick adjustments to changes in network operations.
4. Enhanced Security
SD-WAN technology supports next-generation firewalls and in-transit encryption to protect a company’s network and data. Unlike more traditional configurations, SD-WAN can encrypt information when transmitted, making intercepted data unusable by bad actors. While virtual private networks (VPNs) provide security, they do not enforce granular security policies once the user is authenticated.
When a user is allowed access through a VPN, there’s no restriction on what can and can’t be touched. Because cyberattacks are becoming more sophisticated, cybersecurity experts recommend a zero-trust architecture. This security model requires user authentication each time a resource is requested. SD-WANs can support this more detailed approach to security, enabling more robust security defenses.
Zone-based firewalls are another security practice that SD-WANs support. Access is segmented according to roles. An IoT device can only connect with specified network destinations based on its assigned role. This role-based access control limits access to protect against cyberattacks that could compromise the entire network. Zone segmentation limits the damage malware can do if it passes security defenses.
SD-WAN capabilities position organizations to move to secure access service edge (SASE). This cloud-based security solution delivers advanced security features to SD-WAN implementations. It uses SD-WANs technology to separate traffic that goes to the cloud so it can be sent to SASE. This process allows security policies and controls to be applied to remote traffic headed for the cloud.
5. IoT Security
Every IoT device is a potential entry point for a cybercriminal. Yet, few mandatory security standards are in place, leaving compliance up to the manufacturer. To date, only California has a law regarding device security and privacy. As a result, organizations undertaking an IoT project must consider how to secure devices at the edge.
SD-WAN solutions often include security capabilities, although more companies are looking at solutions that incorporate SASE to increase security at the edge. By routing IoT traffic through SASE, SD-WAN platforms can add an additional enterprise-wide layer of protection.
To provide enhanced security, an SD-WAN solution should include the following features:
- Anti-virus, malware, and spyware software
- Encryption and inspection of in-transit traffic
- Intrusion detection
- Web and application filtering
Zoning is especially valuable in an IoT deployment as each device is a possible entry point for a cyber threat. Containing a threat in a zone protects the infrastructure from widespread compromises.
6. Increased Flexibility
SD-WAN offers transport flexibility by supporting multiple telecom technologies such as MPLS, 5G, or broadband. Its ability to route traffic to numerous channels provides redundancy that ensures data is transmitted reliably. With load balancing, SD-WANs can increase uptime and maintain consistent performance.
SD-WAN can quickly scale to address changes in demand. In hybrid environments, demand is in flux depending on whether your staff is onsite or working remotely at any given time. SD-WAN can adjust automatically to ensure traffic is routed as efficiently as possible.
SD-WAN technology enables effective disaster recovery plans. When local connections are damaged, SD-WAN can switch to cellular communications to keep business-critical traffic moving. The technology provides flexibility not only during normal operations but also during unexpected disruptions.
7. Manageable Hybrid Infrastructures
Managing WAN connections spread over a cloud, and on-premise infrastructure increases operational complexities. Multi-cloud architectures may not share the same administrative control. Some cloud providers may grant administrators comprehensive rights, while others may not. Securing a WAN can be challenging when cloud services provide varying visibility.
SD-WAN virtualizes the management and control processes, streamlining administrative tasks from the network underlay. Network automation with varying circuit types can be complex unless SD-WAN technology is available. Otherwise, network management involves more IT resources as configurations must be tailored to each cloud variation.
By decoupling management efforts from the underlying infrastructure, SD-WAN simplifies network management from a central location. Companies have control and visibility over an entire network regardless of the architecture. They are no longer tied to vendor-specific tools for monitoring or maintaining their networks. SD-WAN gives organizations comprehensive control over their hybrid infrastructures.
8. Cost-Effective IoT Initiatives
IoT deployments vary by industry, with some markets, such as security, reaching a global market revenue of $1 trillion by the end of 2022. Contrast that revenue target with the worldwide utility market’s annual income of $41.8 billion for the same period. While the growth rate may vary significantly from industry to industry, the primary reason for IoT deployment does not.
Cost savings is the primary driver for 54% of enterprise IoT projects. For companies looking to reduce the cost of an IoT initiative, SD-WAN technology can simplify IoT deployment and mitigate risk, resulting in significant cost savings.
With zero-touch provisioning, SD-WAN technology automates connecting IoT devices. It simplifies management by providing a single view of the entire network. This centralized control allows staff to more easily manage access control, device security, and network communications.
As a cloud-managed service, SD-WAN deployments do not require on-premise staff to have different management capabilities. Team leaders can perform onboarding more efficiently and at a lower cost due to automation. With a centralized view of the network, administrators can assess network performance in real time, regardless of the complexity.
Real-time visibility across an infrastructure enables quick problem resolution and seamless delivery of new or updated security policies. These capabilities ensure resilience when addressing the dynamic traffic flows of an IoT implementation.
The SD-WAN Advantage
SD-WAN technology addresses the need for short-term cost savings and establishes a foundation for long-term viability. Organizations can realize long- and short-term benefits such as the following:
- Enhanced End-to-end network infrastructure visibility enables performance monitoring in an on-premise, multi-cloud, or hybrid architecture.
- Monitoring that ensures consistent speed and availability across an enterprise.
- Application awareness and managed bandwidth for network optimization of critical applications and services.
- SASE capable of more secure deployment of IoT devices.
- Hybrid orchestration to optimize performance.
- Cost savings for IoT deployments.
Most importantly, SD-WAN provides the flexibility needed to compete in today’s environment.
Its ability to rapidly add IoT devices to your network and reconfigure connections increases organizational agility. Whether onboarding a new sensor or changing a security policy, SD-WAN solutions allow businesses to manage their infrastructure quickly and cost-effectively.
SD-WANs enable smooth transitions from on-premise to cloud connectivity. A hybrid infrastructure supporting a remote workforce gives businesses a competitive edge when recruiting and retaining employees. Incorporating SASE minimizes the risk associated with remote employees.
By adopting SD-WAN technology, businesses can increase network reliability and reduce performance issues such as high latency. It saves money by routing traffic through the most cost-effective channel without compromising critical business operations. Its centralized network panel simplifies the management and monitoring of daily activity.
BCM One offers SD-WAN services to organizations looking for hassle-free implementations. We assign a project manager to every deployment to ensure a smooth onboarding process, and our support staff is always available 24/7 to answer questions or address any concerns.
Our team works with customers who want to incorporate existing infrastructure, such as unified communications, into their SD-WAN configuration. We aim to design and deliver a cost-effective solution that maintains the required performance levels. With end-to-end visibility, you can monitor your network performance through a single interface. Contact us to learn how your company can benefit from SD-WAN technology.