SD-WAN, or Software-Defined Wide-Area Networking, is a technique for using software to make wide area networks more intelligent and flexible. It typically begins with connecting sites directly to the internet over commodity broadband links instead of sending all traffic back to a regional office via private lines (which often are based on older, expensive technology known like MPLS). Configurations and access policies are centrally managed and easily applied across all sites, removing the need to manual administer each WAN device individually.
Why is SD-WAN Important?
Digital transformation, the use of modern, cloud-based applications and technologies to empower new ways of doing business, is driving changes across every industry. The first step for many organizations is to ensure that their increasingly distributed workforce has safe, fast, always-on access from every appropriate location. Unfortunately, traditional ways of connecting widely dispersed stores, branch offices, and remote offices often aren’t up to the challenge. Old hub-and-spoke networks built on private links can quickly buckle under the strain of Office 365, video training and teleconferencing, just to name a few examples. In such environments, IT faces a big challenge: how to optimize network performance without getting stuck on an endless treadmill of throwing money at the problem, upgrading hardware, and reconfiguring the network over and over.
Today, organizations need agile, flexible and cost-effective IT solutions if they want to compete effectively. They need solutions that are easy to implement, that are scalable and that meet the needs of growing businesses. Also, in a world where downtime can affect both reputation and the bottom line, they need to be confident that the networking solutions they choose are always on.
An SD-WAN solves these problems and more, especially with new approaches that also bring enterprise scale and security. That's why it's becoming one of the most popular networking solutions available today.
The Difference Between WAN and SD-WAN
Just a few years ago, organizations looking to enhance their existing WAN environments would need to invest heavily in special network links, network equipment, and expertise in setting it all up. Then, they would often spend days and even weeks configuring the equipment to function properly on their network.
SD-WAN works differently. It lets organizations use whichever inexpensive internet service provider (ISP) connections are available at each location rather than requiring specific, expensive ones such as MPLS lines obtained from telecom providers. Many SD-WAN solutions even mix and match different connection technologies and ISPs intelligently, boosting the overall performance of the network at each site. Configuration of all locations is done centrally, eliminating the need to manually edit setup files on each device. Administrators have full visibility across the entire network, not just a “peephole” glance into individual WAN routers, so they can understand what is happening and respond faster to incidents and potential problems.
The Benefits of SD-WAN
Many businesses or government agencies look to SD-WAN to reduce or eliminate their dependence upon slow, costly MPLS lines (Learn more about SD-WAN vs MPLS). However, that’s just the start of what SD-WAN can do for organizations :
Lower Connectivity Costs – SD-WAN can reduce ongoing operating expenses by switching from expensive MPLS lines to commodity broadband like fiber, cable, DSL, or even mobile technologies.
Higher Performance for cloud apps – With SD-WAN, new lines can be added quickly and easily to sites that need more capacity. And, by connecting sites directly to the internet, SD-WAN reduces the bottlenecks and delays that are common in older WANs.
Multiple Link Resilience – Traditional WAN environments usually have a single network link going into each location. With SD-WAN, multiple links from different ISPs can be used, eliminating a single point of failure that could take the network down.
Greater Agility – When you are opening up new branch offices, time is money. SD-WAN allows you to set up reliable and secure networks fast, using whichever ISPs are most appropriate to each location.
Optimized Use of Resources – SD-WAN enables you to intelligently assign key applications to different links, including internal lines as well as Internet connections, assigning different Quality of Service (QoS) guarantees to each. This lets you apply the right resources in each situation to maximize performance and productivity while minimizing cost.
Combining SD-WAN with Scale and Security
Early SD-WAN implementations focused primarily on connectivity for organizations with dozens of sites. But, new enterprise-focused SD-WAN solutions are making it possible to have more than 1500 sites managed on a single pane of glass and building in the same full next-generation firewall (NGFW) security that’s needed wherever your network touches the internet.
Transitioning to SD-WAN With Confidence
Moving to an SD-WAN solution can help you control costs, enhance business agility and accelerate cloud initiatives with confidence. But no matter what type of network environment you choose, it needs to be secure. With cyber attacks and data breaches on the rise, it is imperative that you protect your data, reputation and bottom line with best in class IT solutions.
Forcepoint Secure Enterprise SD-WAN allows you to safely and efficiently extend your network from your data centers and headquarters out to your remote branch offices and into the cloud. In addition, it gives you seamless control access over web content and enables you to decrypt traffic, all while safeguarding privacy. For distributed enterprises looking to enhance performance and scalability without compromising security, Forcepoint Secure Enterprise SD-WAN enables you to connect and protect your people to the data and applications they need simpler than ever before.