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SD-WAN Decoded: Network Management for Modern Businesses

March 22, 2024

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The landscape of network and security is experiencing a significant transformation. Think of network and security changes like a giant puzzle. Many of today’s data communication tools are becoming obsolete. Old pieces break all the time, people find new ones to fit in, and everyone’s running around trying to solve it. Most problematic networking solutions are inflexible, manually operated, and vulnerable to security breaches. Enterprises battling with outdated, rigid systems with bumpy user experiences need updates. But who will eventually connect all the pieces? 

The Case for Replacing Obsolete Networking Solutions

IT infrastructure teams are not only vital in managing the physical hardware that supports systems and networks, but they also need to consistently focus on security, automation, and improving user experiences, which is no easy feat. The IT sector was among the first to jump on the AI bandwagon, but the innovation didn’t stop there. From multi-cloud software, Network as a Service (NaaS), and open-source frameworks to SD-WAN and secure access service edge (SASE) are just some of the tools in their tool belt. In 2024, we can expect to see more open markets, which are driven by legacy product developments and vendor consolidation.

As enterprises update infrastructure with better networking solutions, they must back the work up with solid AI-powered security measures. Or else, the lack of a strong security architecture might mean production halts, investigations, and even reputational harm. Late detection can increase costs by up to 3,000%. Integrating infrastructure, AI, and up-to-date data communication systems is necessary for businesses that want to scale, stay safe, and be ready for cyber threats. That is how security architecture has become the groundwork for future networking. The trend has resulted in security vendors gaining popularity over Juniper, HPE Aruba, and VMware in the SD-WAN arena. But, detecting and fixing security vulnerabilities requires a big budget. In response, proactive security measures save money, so let’s look at how networking with SD-WAN does just that.

Proactive Networking with SD-WAN

Managing a Wide Area Network (WAN) has consistently cost a pretty penny without much flexibility. But that’s where the SD-WAN technology comes into the spotlight. SD-WAN, or Software-defined wide-area networking, allows proactive responses to real-time network assets. It relies on network devices that can be programmed remotely, which enhances agility, increases routing speeds, reduces costs, and improves overall network performance.

SD-WAN also adds another level of automation to business, which additionally reduces costs, especially when it comes to managing enterprise network connectivity. It is an appendix of software-defined networking (SDN). Businesses implementing software-defined wide-area networking create a smart hybrid WAN in record time. 

SD-WAN is a technology that combines different services such as business-grade IP VPN, broadband Internet, and wireless services to help you manage your applications cost-effectively and efficiently, especially when it comes to cloud-based applications. The technology automatically and dynamically forwards your traffic across the most suitable and efficient WAN path based on various factors such as network conditions, application traffic security quality-of-service (QoS) requirements, and circuit cost. You also have the option to set routing policies, giving you more control over your network.

SD-WAN is gaining popularity among businesses for its financial and operational advantages:

  • Lowers WAN operating expenses (OpEx), 
  • Cuts down capital expenses (CapEx), 
  • Scales down the overall total cost of ownership.
  • Facilitates agility for the organization and increases responsiveness speeds to keep up with IT advancements.
  • Enables safe, high-performance networking that eliminates bandwidth penalties you can get with Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS).
  • The improved network system automates the setup for VPNs, firewalls, security, WAN optimization, and application delivery control, further simplifying business operations. 
  • Unlike MPLS, SD-WAN connections allow load sharing and adjusting traffic flows to match network conditions.
  • Zero-touch provisioning (ZTP) allows businesses to scale deployment in several locations at once, installing devices such as firewalls, wireless access points, routers, and network switches with no manual intervention.
  • Encrypts WAN traffic and segments the network, increasing security and minimizing damage in case of cyber attacks.

Future-Proofing Networks: Trends and Predictions for 2023-2027

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused some leaders to delay their SD-WAN release dates. But all the factors listed above suggest that SD-WAN is a network trend worth investing in. According to a 2023 report by Technavio, the market will grow at a steady rate of 29.7% per year from 2023 to 2027. Statistics say that the North American market will play a big part in it, driving 36% of the growth in the foreseeable future.

Technavio also recognized cloud-based SD-WAN as another growth driver. The trend shows that many networking professionals are currently examining how to reduce costs while scaling operations at a desired rate. The report predicts that mergers and acquisitions will decrease the SD-WAN market size.

The globalization of IoT and telecommuting, combined with the rise of SaaS, have contributed to SD-WAN’s rising to its prominent spot in the market. It seems only a few months ago, WAN was a perfectly viable option for enterprises. Still, WAN replacement isn’t without flaws and requires monitoring tools to ensure it meets the standards needed for frictionless network connectivity and availability. 

Regardless, even if the market is small and stable, established companies will continue to introduce new products. We are already witnessing a company that targets smaller firms interested in SD-WAN for less than 100 USD entry per site—a price that turns heads, even for the most well-off customers.

The report also recognizes possible challenges, such as the shortage of people with SD-WAN skills, which could slow deployments. On the other hand, if SD-WAN continues to prove itself as an in-demand networking option, more professionals should feel encouraged to learn and maintain the necessary skills to show themselves as marketable to current or potential employers.

Proactive SD-WAN Monitoring for Enterprises

More and more companies are adopting SD-WAN technology to support cloud-based operations. As we explained in this article, a robust and customized SD-WAN deployment plan will provide value to your organization, but there is a potential blind spot in the “last mile” of their networks. If companies don’t resolve the issues surrounding that blind spot, it will lead to poor performance, project delays, and a bad user experience. That is where monitoring solutions become central to identifying potential issues and improving overall network performance.

Giving your service provider relevant details will help them identify the issue promptly and solve it with as little effect on your operations as possible. Dedicated SD-WAN monitoring tools are essential to keeping your business up-to-date and in adherence to SD-WAN Service Level Agreements (SLAs). Furthermore, monitoring your new network system will help you identify and address “last mile” performance issues affecting end-users while you gather actionable insights to resolve internal network challenges. Finally, collaboration with service providers makes troubleshooting ISP-related issues a quick and easy fix.

Future-Proofing Networks the SD-WAN Way

Networking and its unavoidable companions, extensive security measures, are evolving at the speed of light. Modern businesses keep fighting an uphill battle with solutions that were state-of-the-art last year but are now becoming outdated in a matter of months. SD-WAN technology remedies that pain point with its proactive approach to network management for now. 

At this rate, we don’t know how long this new networking framework will last, considering its predecessors were knocked out after a few rounds. But for the moment, SD-WAN dynamically adjusts to network conditions, optimizes routing, and reduces costs. And by leveraging the agility and efficiency of SD-WAN, enterprises are promised to stay ahead of the curve, and future-proof their networks.