IT is changing and growing at a faster pace than ever. In order to remain competitive, enterprises must be able to scale and adapt quickly. This is as true in the WAN as it is anywhere else within the enterprise. While many modern enterprises have already realized that SD-WAN is needed to meet the performance and flexibility demands required in modern business, selecting the right SD-WAN offering can be a real challenge.
While there are a number of SD-WAN solutions to choose from, only SDWaaS is uniquely capable of delivering the performance and agility required for enterprise environments.
Let’s dive into the importance of agility and WAN performance in the modern enterprise and explore the benefits SDWaaS with this context in mind.
The importance of agility to the modern enterprise
Competition between businesses and expectations from consumers are greater than ever. This means that in order to thrive, enterprises must be able to iterate, innovate, and adapt rapidly. Whether this means adding functionality to a software product, rolling out an IoT initiative, providing enhanced service to your customers (e.g. as an MSP), or any number of other opportunities; the costs of not being able to “strike while the iron is hot” are high. If you don’t quickly exploit an opportunity, you can be sure your competitors will.
The custom hardware and the WAN as a bottleneck
Often, IT infrastructure is at the heart of innovation. Whether it is driving collaboration and development, or actually part of the service itself (e.g. for MSPs, SaaS apps, etc.), having the underlying network infrastructure in place to facilitate your progress is a must.
Unfortunately, many enterprises find that core pieces of their network and WAN infrastructure consist of customized hardware. Why is this a problem? Because rollouts that depend on significantly modifying the infrastructure can take months or even years. If the hardware you need is available on the market, and you’re aggressive in sourcing it and planning the rollout, a few months is realistic. If you have to wait for new functionality to be added by way of a hardware change, firmware update, or new operating system, time to market could realistically be measured in years. This can mean huge bottlenecks preventing improvements and innovation for enterprises and service providers.
How is this solved? By taking a software-defined approach to networking and the WAN. Doing so decouples your dependence on custom hardware and enables the use of commodity servers and whitebox switches. With a software-defined paradigm, fundamental change can happen in weeks with proof of concepts being done in days.
How SD-WAN brings agility and performance to the enterprise WAN
How can enterprises enable this software-defined approach on their networks? By moving away from a hardware-based approach to network and WAN connectivity and adopting solutions like SD-WAN and SDN (software-defined networking) to decouple their network performance from any given piece of hardware. SDWaaS is particularly useful here as it is a holistic WAN solution that not only enables policy-based routing and the use of multiple transport methods (xDSL, 4G LTE, etc.), it also helps reduce dependence on expensive and complex appliances for connectivity and security. Since it is truly cloud-native, SDWaaS brings the scalability of the cloud to the WAN. Additionally, it is able to do so without compromising reliability as SDWaaS providers offer a private, SLA-backed backbone that is supported by Tier 1 ISPs.
What about NFV?
At this point, if you’ve been keeping up with WAN trends over the last few years, you may be asking where NFV (Network Functions Virtualization) fits in. For a time, it seemed like NFV was the tech that was going to bring agility to the enterprise WAN. However, disjointed standards and single-vendor solutions have led to less than stellar results. The NFV of today looks very similar to managed and hosted firewalls of the past. As customers still need to pay for and manage a number of cloud or hardware appliances, NFV does bring the agility and scalability enterprises need.
However, where NFV failed, SDWaaS (sometimes referred to as cloud-native SD-WAN) can succeed. This is because SDWaaS offers a full security stack baked-in to the underlying WAN infrastructure. This means, with SDWaaS, enterprises can maximize their flexibility without compromising their security.
SDWaaS helps enterprises avoid bottlenecks and optimize performance As we have seen, customized hardware can create bottlenecks that stifle innovation and performance enhancements for enterprises and service providers. If you are dependent on hardware updates and new hardware rollouts in order to be able to innovate, you can expect non-trivial bottlenecks along the way. By shifting away from a hardware-focused paradigm and adopting technologies like SDN and SDWaaS, enterprises and service providers can help ensure that they are capable of scaling and innovating at speeds that keep them ahead of the curve in today’s competitive business landscape.