The Role of SD-WAN in Enabling Digital Transformation

Modern business initiatives require mission-critical applications to operate at the network edge, requiring high performance and availability. SD-WAN enables businesses to deliver these services at the lowest cost, with greater agility when adding new branches or sites.

The software element of SD-WAN allows the control functions of a network to be virtualized and managed remotely, replacing costly physical hardware. This enables policy changes to be pushed and enacted quickly.

Improved Business Performance

Modern business initiatives such as migration to cloud platforms, Big Data analytics, and IoT require significant bandwidth. Poor or inconsistent network performance can hinder employee productivity and impact the bottom line. SD-WAN is a smart choice for improving the performance of these mission-critical applications and providing the reliability needed to support digital transformation.

The software-driven SD-WAN architecture combines different WAN connection types like 4G, 5G, broadband, and leased lines into one seamless service that prioritizes traffic and improves application performance using intelligent routing and path selection. This also reduces configuration errors that can wreak havoc with the performance of the business.

Another way that SD-WAN improves performance is by reducing packet loss with a built-in retransmit function that provides backup information, called parity, to repair damaged data. This function automatically redeploys network resources to ensure critical applications have the capacity.

Like at Versa Networks, SD-WAN enables businesses to connect to the cloud more reliably by leveraging direct Internet connections rather than traditional hub-and-spoke networking approaches. This eliminates the inefficient backhauling over MPLS, which eats up expensive bandwidth and adds latency to cloud-bound traffic. It’s an easy way to enable cloud-based WAN connections that decrease costs and deliver improved performance. A reliable WAN connection is crucial to ensure employees can access the company’s applications and files, even remotely. An unplanned outage can cost an enterprise $300,000 or more in lost revenue and productivity. An SD-WAN can provide unstoppable uptime by combining a secure overlay with diverse access and failover.

Improved Customer Experience

Connecting with employees remotely, sharing files, and accessing applications are crucial for productivity. However, if those connections suffer from poor performance or are interrupted by poor connectivity, it can impact the user experience and hamper productivity. This is where SD-WAN comes in.

While many traditional enterprise security solutions backhaul traffic to a central site to perform advanced security inspection, SD-WAN enables the safe use of public Internet transports for cloud-bound traffic, resulting in lower costs and improved bandwidth performance. In addition, it allows businesses to add new sites more quickly and easily by enabling them to rely on affordable MPLS and broadband links while also providing additional capacity with SD-WAN link load balancing.

Another critical aspect of SD-WAN is optimizing application and session performance, which can help improve the customer experience. By operating at a granular session level, SD-WAN can ensure that critical sessions get priority over other less-critical ones, even as network resources are moved dynamically to handle unexpected traffic loads.

For example, Comcast Business recently helped an educational institution deploy a new high-bandwidth connection with SD-WAN that cost-efficiently uses existing MPLS and public InternetInternet to deliver the speed and reliability needed to support student productivity demands while also improving connectivity across sites. This enabled them to continue to have their anytime, anywhere promise for staff members and students alike.

Improved Security

A reliable network is critical to employee performance and productivity. But, if your network is slow or prone to cyberattacks, it can lead to a significant loss in revenue and leave your business vulnerable to data breaches. SD-WAN provides advanced security to safeguard your data and help you achieve the performance you need for digital transformation.

Traditional WANs require backhauling application traffic from remote offices to central data hubs for detailed security inspection, which could be more efficient and affordable. SD-WAN offers a software-centric process that eliminates this bottleneck to deliver greater agility and cloud access.

The centralized management system of SD-WAN allows IT teams to monitor all applications across multiple locations and ensure they are delivering on the desired performance levels. This will enable them to prioritize applications and improve the quality of users’ experience by routing applications and data through the best available paths across WAN links.

Unlike traditional networking hardware, which has its control mechanism, SD-WAN decouples the network hardware from the control pane using an overlay network. This allows IT to connect less “smart” low-cost switches at branch offices to the SD-WAN controller and let the network connection determine the best path for each application in real time. This also makes it possible to add a new link to a location and bring it online with zero-touch provisioning in just minutes without needing an IT specialist at the branch.

Reduced Costs

With centralized management and automation features, SD-WAN makes deploying new sites easier, reducing operational costs. Centralized policy management and zero-touch provisioning make it simple to push profiles and configurations to onsite routers, minimizing the need for manual, time-consuming onsite work.

Secure connectivity with the InternetInternet is another critical feature of SD-WAN that significantly reduces costs. As an enterprise-grade network, it can encrypt data so only intended recipients can read it. This protects information from prying eyes, whether in transit over the internet or even public Wi-Fi networks at coffee shops and hotels.

SD-WAN also saves costs through application performance improvements, bandwidth efficiency, and redundancy. It improves bandwidth efficiency by enabling the WAN to use direct internet connections at the site level rather than backhauling data to and from headquarters over costly MPLS links. It also offers WAN acceleration and application optimization that reduces protocol inefficiencies, which can cause latency, packet loss, and other network problems.

Redundancy is built into SD-WAN by allowing it to connect over multiple sources at the site, including broadband Internet, LTE, and wireless LANs (Wi-Fi). This enables enterprises to build a secure overlay that can automatically failover between these connections, increasing availability and reducing the need for costly MPLS circuits. It can also provide a backup link with a private connection to the cloud, which helps eliminate data loss in an outage at a local ISP.