For larger businesses and enterprises, SD WAN is being heralded as something or a revolution in networking technology. Traditional network infrastructures weren’t created with modern day digitization and cloud-based applications – so a network overlay that can account for centralized ways of working and different connection types can be a game-changer.
If you’re considering SD WAN, or you’re just curious about what the tech is and what it offers – take a look at the five significant benefits it could bring to your company.
What is SD WAN?
SD WAN is a type of software that overlays your business network. It works with virtually every protocol and device and essentially offers a software-based control system that can handle everything from typical networking settings thought to physical switches that would otherwise take an on-site engineer to adjust.
Clearly, this shifts the power of your network to a more central location – and configurations that were once impossible now become routine as the software unifies and simplifies.
So, what are some of these benefits in reality?
As you’ll be well aware if you’ve tried to hold a board meeting video call – not all data on your network has an equal importance. With today’s reliance on video calling, this fact has become starker than ever before – your board meeting call might drop completely, simply because there’s a large file transfer taking place between two end users on the second floor.
So, what does SD WAN do to prevent this? The answer is, it gives real, network wide CoS (class of service) control. How it offers this will depend on your unique network design – but it could be that it creates a dedicated ‘tunnel’ between the necessary devices – with a dedicated amount of bandwidth that cannot be touched by other processes. Alternatively, it could simply be there, running in the background, helping your mission critical devices to avoid congestion through certain network paths.
The result is better uptime for your most crucial applications – and since downtime can cost a business so much – this is an essential part of staying on your feet in today’s marketplace.
Data security has, for obvious reasons, taken up less time in the headlines since the world’s fallen under the Covid-19 pandemic – but a lack of media coverage doesn’t mean the problems gone away. In 2020, it’s predicted that 76% of businesses will be targetted in a cyber attack – now, whether any of those are successful is another statistic altogether – but it shows that there are criminals out there, trying hard to compromise your company’s IT networks.
So, how does SD WAN help your defenses? In effect, it helps to reduce the negative impact of security on your end users and customers. The sad truth is, no one likes security until it’s proven to have protected them – so, slower processes that have firewalls and security infrastructure to blame are a hindrance because they’re simply not considered important until they’re needed.
SD WAN systems often have built in security systems that integrate without speed issues – sandboxing, AV, encryption, and so on – but more so, they’re working dynamically to make sure that systems are running as quickly as possible. If a firewall is backing up data and potentially pausing the use of an application for an end user, SD WAN will find a way to move the data quicker. It might only be seconds of lost time – but from a very real, customer or end user point of view, it could be the difference between a good experience and a bad one.
It’s important to say up front that SD WAN is not considered a cost-saving purchase – if you’re looking to simply reduce your budget, SD WAN will not do that – but in terms of a secondary benefit that comes with the wealth of networking benefits – there could be some cost reduction seen in certain areas.
One of the biggest cost saving side effectives of SD WAN is the intelligent and fluid way that data can be moved around a network over geographical distances. So, do you need a high cost enterprise grade dedicated circuit to get the best possible speed? Possibly not – as SD WAN can leverage local internet to create its own data channels. Infact it’s not just local internet or broadband connections either – even 4G channels can be used to create bandwidth and ease the burden of data on the core IT infrastructure.
Simplification of your network
Complexity = costs in the world of IT. With more complexity comes the need for more staff, more outsourced support, more travel to external sites, slower fixing of issues, and more complex paths for data to potentially get lost in.
SD WAN effectively simplifies the WAN infrastructure. Why strain your central network when you can send lower priority data down it’s own internet paths? Why increase a workload for IT staff when you can unify and automate monitoring jobs and control everything from one central location? Again, there are very few people who would invest in an SD WAN system just because it makes things simpler – but it’s another positive side-effective that runs alongside the core product benefits.
Smoother cloud use
Virtually every business now uses a cloud-based application somewhere in their workflows – and, even if they didn’t at the start of 2020, you can bet that the global shift towards home working has forced the hand of those who are slow to adopt.
Again, SD WAN makes it possible to control class of service while at the same time allowing end users to directly access cloud-based applications. For businesses with branches that work with centralized applications, this is invaluable – as end user experience and customer facing experience are not hindered in anyway. What’s more, SD WAN can make the working-from-home situation infinitely easier too – so even if you’re working with domestic standard internet connections, your network overlay can make the most of the situation and give your end-user all the speed and application access they would have sitting at their desk in your head office.