Software-defined networking in a wide area network, or SD-WAN, is shaking up the networking industry as it promises optimised user experience and reduced cost. Networking is progressing and becoming ever more sophisticated at speed, and IT professionals are perpetually looking for the best method to ensure their businesses are operating as efficiently as possible.
Approximately fifteen years ago, SD-WAN started as a way to quickly improve communication flows between different physical locations on an enterprise network and cloud-based data centre. This technology has matured from a quick way to increase bandwidth to a full set of tools for a complete overhaul of existing network infrastructures. With several market analysts now claiming that the SD-WAN market is growing at an impressive CAGR per year (IDC states this market will already surpass the $8 billion mark by 2021), it represents today a tremendous opportunity for Telcos and IT Service Providers.
Typically, across a wide area or a long-distance network lines are more expensive, and bandwidth is limited. Since in the past data traffic flew mainly from the branch offices to a central location where most of the applications resided, multi-site/branch businesses have invested heavily into traditional MPLS networks. Many have tried using lower-cost connections, but reliable access to applications has typically dictated the requirement to pay for high-quality links backed by service level agreements. But with the progressive move to the cloud of both data and applications, the situation is changing. For offices and businesses with 10, 15, or 100 locations, SD-WAN is more of a necessity because it can help solve bandwidth and network monitoring issues. While large corporations can address several needs with SD-WAN, even customers with a single location using SaaS applications can benefit from line redundancies, network visibility and additional security features to limit outages and other IT risks.
SD‐WAN uses software and cloud‐based technologies to simplify the delivery of WAN services to branch and head offices through virtualisation. It enables the deployment of Internet‐based connectivity rather than more expensive private links. Provisioning and new connections (be it new lines or new hosts/clients) are implemented in real-time. SD-WAN also provides application awareness, a detailed understanding of what is happening on the network, allowing the latest generation network devices to use that information to dynamically adapt the infrastructure to the real needs of the organisation thanks to Dynamic Multipath Optimisation algorithms.
MSPs and Telcos might have SMB customers complaining about applications not starting up as they should at their branch offices or running faster when they work remotely, or similar. Infrastructure Managers at these companies often react by just increasing bandwidth. However, this isn’t the real issue. While most people aren’t looking from the very start for SD-WAN, they have to find a way to optimise their network performance. This is exactly where Telcos and MSPs can bring their knowledge since SD-WAN can help increase service levels, decrease downtimes and deliver a better user experience. Regardless of an SMB to have geographically distributed branches or just a main seat, many of them find it difficult to build enough skills internally and keep staff trained. That’s why SMBs tend to ask MSPs or their Providers to provide SD-WAN as-a-Service, including management and real-time monitoring of the new network infrastructure on a day-to-day basis.
SD-WAN is not the only technology companies should look at. Still, it will most likely be a part of any future network they invest in, since the future will be about how communications over a network happen. SD-WAN is one of the currently most powerful tools to gain this visibility.
You are an MSP or Internet/Network Provider and wish to offer from day one full-featured SD-WAN services to your customers? Please do not hesitate to contact us!