SD-WAN can help overcome legacy network management challenges, facilitate innovation, and unlock value and efficiency in IT infrastructure.
For large organisations, network complexity can mean IT and business leaders end up spending too much time on manual configuration or management, and not enough time taking advantage of the network as an enabler of growth and innovation.
A software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) helps tackle this complexity, revolutionising how distributed networks are provisioned and managed. The business benefits can be immediate.
Organisations now need to be extremely agile to develop the products and services that meet rapidly evolving customer expectations, while at the same time being secure, scalable and meet regulatory requirements.
To help meet these challenges, enterprises can build ‘best of breed’ systems that combine different applications and services, accessing a mixture of public and private clouds, as well as traditional data centres, connected by different public and private networks.
In this type of environment, network solutions that are inflexible can hold a business back.
Network challenges can also become greater over larger geographic areas. Organisations are sometimes forced to resort to “best effort” technologies to connect branch offices, using point-to-point network connections to address “last mile” network access challenges outside major population centres.
Methods including multi-protocol label switching (better known as MPLS) have been used in these situations, potentially using different suppliers that may have had different access technologies available depending on the location. As a result businesses can end up with connections that lack flexibility.
Other challenges such connections present include an inability to define – and guarantee – standard configurations across the network, which can be important for security enforcement or prioritising network traffic based on data types.
All of this can mean inconsistent application performance at different sites. Business processes, and the security measures protecting them, have to be adjusted to allow for the differences, which in turn can affect customer experience and business process performance.
How SD-WAN changes the game
SD-WAN offers many operational benefits not seen with traditional network architectures, including centralised management, end-to-end security, and more real-time traffic visibility. It’s also an enabler of digital transformation, being more responsive, flexible and cost-effective than traditional network management3. Being software controlled means it can also open the door to automated management, which can reduce the need for manual intervention.
Software-defined networks centrally control traffic and can use multiple connection types, including public internet and private services, to access applications and to connect branches and end customers, wherever they are located.
Additionally, SD-WAN can be overlaid on existing networks, meaning a migration to more modern infrastructure can be done gradually and in-line with business requirements.
Reconfiguration is simpler, making it easier to optimise the IT set-up as requirements change. Adding new sites (including branch offices) and end points to share the existing infrastructure and have consistent configuration is also less complicated. Firewalls, for example, no longer need to be individually configured at each site.
SD-WAN also provides a lot more flexibility in the way organisations manage the performance of their business applications across the network – a real boost in today’s hybrid working world which increasingly relies on access to cloud-based applications.
With traditional WAN, the standard process is to tag certain types of data to activities and applications. To implement these priorities across an enterprise, network devices at every location may need to have policies updated, making changes more time-consuming and difficult.
In contrast, SD-WAN makes configuration simpler and faster by using centralised data management. Data can be prioritised and then automatically routed using the most effective connection for the application. SD-WAN can also monitor the network for congestion and other issues, steering data away from problems that may slow it down.
It helps get you the right data in the right place at the right time.
“business nbn® helps enable broad flexibility for businesses to transform to SD-WAN solutions, with the capability to run over traditional MPLS systems in a hybrid mode to reduce disruptions" #*
David Wells, Executive Manager - Sales Solutions, business nbn
A platform for innovation
SD-WAN has many inherent advantages, but its performance can be better supported if it is combined with business-grade network infrastructure and services.
Plans from service providers powered by business nbn include network features and speeds that can help enable flexibility and agility. These plans can offer a range of business-grade options, including prioritised data over the nbn network, symmetrical upload and download speeds, and enhanced service level agreements between nbn and service providers.*,^
As part of its mission to build Australia's digital backbone, business nbn's fibre initiative also means that more organisations, in more locations around Australia, have the option to get a business-grade Enterprise Ethernet+ service from a service provider that supports and enables their SD-WAN solutions.*
Find support for your business
Running SD-WAN over enterprise-grade network infrastructure or services, decision makers can worry less about the “pipes” and instead focus on the business outcomes.
SD-WAN deployments can allow organisations to make better use of existing IT assets by simplifying management and simplifying the migration path for future upgrades. It can also dramatically improve application performance by recognising the importance of data and optimising its passage through the network.
With a comprehensive network strategy, organisations can augment or replace legacy MPLS connections to help reduce CAPEX investments and move network costs to an OPEX model6. Expanding the network to new locations can be done easily7.
By helping get more out of tech infrastructure, SD-WAN can help businesses focus less on network performance and more on business performance.