Networks Europe Jul-Aug 2019 - Page 47

SD-WAN By Stephen Lawrence, Sector Director for Enterprise, SSE Enterprise Telecoms Using software-defined wide area networking to achieve more secure, flexible and efficient networks Having properly optimised networks in place is key to the success and growth of modern enterprises, especially when 89% of organisations say they have adopted, or plan to adopt, a digital-first strategy. However, as research by SSE Enterprise Telecoms has found, the majority of IT decision makers are frustrated with their current network platforms. Only 22% of businesses say they’re likely to renew contracts with their existing provider. They mention concerns and key frustrations being cost (43%), security (34%) and inflexible contract terms (33%). As they hunt for better alternatives, nearly two in five businesses are also looking to have their security concerns allayed. However, in order for enterprises to achieve more secure, flexible and efficient networks, a new approach is required. With the emergence of software-defined wide area networking (SD- WAN), those aspirations could soon become a reality. Understanding the technology SD-WAN is a software layer which simplifies the delivery of WAN services to branch sites. Regardless of the underlying network in place, whether dark fibre, Ethernet or business broadband, SD-WAN enables network managers to slice up routing using a transport agnostic device installed at branch sites. This gives network managers complete visibility of the network, establishing and prioritising the fastest and most appropriate routes for data transfer, and the network as a whole can then be optimised for maximum performance and productivity. Improved control also means additional security benefits. Using SD-WAN allows businesses to segment their applications based on granular security policies, making sure the right security protocols are used for relevant sites, data types or users. For example, a Financial Services organisation will have a large amount of sensitive and personal data travelling through its network every day. In this case, SD- WAN would enable it to segment applications appropriately, therefore minimising the attack surface. An additional benefit of SD-WAN is that it simplifies the delivery of WAN services to branch offices. Although a small piece of hardware is still required to be installed on-site, this can be done without the help of an expensive engineer. From that point onward, an SD-WAN portal can be used to control and optimise connectivity. With a third of enterprises keen for a more flexible, adaptable solution, this simplicity should be highly appealing. Although 31% of those asked revealed they were concerned about the cost of a new network platform, all of these benefits combined will help to drive greater efficiencies and deliver savings over time. While efficiency benefits will vary across businesses, depending on the underlying connectivity they have, the ultimate point is that SD-WAN offers IT managers the opportunity to understand their networks better, meaning they can improve performance, and experience significant productivity benefits as a result. A controllable, flexible & secure solution An array of benefits arises with SD-WAN adoption – one of the most significant being improved visibility. Without visibility, businesses aren’t able to accurately assess how their network is working as a whole – whether that’s performance, bandwidth suitability or gaining an awareness of which connectivity is being used most effectively. SD- WAN gives network managers a deep understanding of all these areas, arming them with real-time intelligence to make enhancements to network performance. Therefore, SD-WAN is a solution that improves both flexibility and control, making it especially useful during times of organisational change, such as during mergers and acquisitions, or the opening of new branch sites. Although SD-WAN is a relatively new solution, 50% of those who are already using it mention that, as a result, they have experienced increased control and more flexibility. 47