Is now the right time to move to SD-WAN?

Jakub Szkandera
Chief Technology Officer
Jakub Szkandera
Chief Technology Officer

The Network of the Future - Available Now

The traditional approach to wide area networking is to use dedicated private MPLS VPN solutions. These types of networks are costly, and do not offer the flexibility or adaptability that is increasingly important in today’s highly competitive business environment.

Businesses need to be agile enough to rapidly adopt new technology to ensure that their existing consumer base is engaged and to allow them to take opportunities to expand when they are presented. It is undeniable that the cloud is the engine of innovation when it comes technology, and lack of flexibility and agility in standard WANs makes optimal consumption of these services difficult.

A new model is required to both reduce the cost of opportunity and the cost of operation when it comes to WANs.

SD-WAN

SD-WAN offers an ideal solution to both problems.

Internet access is widely available across Australia, and for a fraction of the price of carrier-based MPLS WANs. The increasing availability of NBN connectivity will improve both the availability and reliability of access.

The use of Internet-based SD-WANs offers direct paths to consumption of SaaS and IaaS services. This optimised access has the potential to vastly improve user experience and allow the more rapid uptake of innovative cloud-based technologies.

Alleviating Concerns

The concept of SD-WAN has been floating around for a number of years, and adoption has been slowed due to several concerns. These are addressed here.

Management

One of the key differentiators of SD-WAN is the ability to have underlying access provided by any carrier. In fact, the greatest cost savings from SD-WAN can only be realised when the underlying carriage is chosen from a broad range of carriers The concern with this model is the overhead involved with the maintenance of these disparate relationships. Enterprises are reluctant to give up the relative ease of dealing with a single point of contact for their WAN needs.

The solution for this problem is to use a third-party managed SD-WAN service. This third party operates as a single point of contact and maintains all the relationships with the downstream access providers and deals with the day-to-day operations of the WAN. Until recently there have been very few organisations offering fully managed SD-WAN offerings outside of the big carriers, but this has changed. Basis Networks are now able to offer nation wide managed SD-WAN using industry leading platforms and best fit carriage, for a fraction of the price of the main carriers.

Reliability

MPLS VPNs are incredibly reliable, and there are understandable concerns with the use of cheaper, potentially unreliable network access. However, most carriers have noted the demand for highly reliable business-grade access and have flooded the market with highly competitive solutions. The introduction of NBN is also expected to vastly increase the reach of these reliable, high-bandwidth products.

The purchase of business-grade connectivity is recommended, as is the procurement of redundant services, however a mix of underlying carriage of various capabilities can be implemented and managed by the SD-WAN platform. Even the expected costs of having redundant connectivity is anticipated to be significantly lower than the equivalent redundant MPLS WAN solution.

Security

MPLS VPNs are secure by nature, so how does an SD-WAN solution ensure that an equivalent level of security is achieved? How does SD-WAN deal with securing distributed public Internet access?

SD-WAN overlays are transmitted over secure tunnels, maintaining the privacy of communications between participating facilities. Any solution platform worth considering will have a good degree of security capability builtin, delivering the necessary controls to regulate access to the Internet and to cloud services.

Evidence

SD-WAN is not new, but major enterprises have been slower to adopt the technology over the past couple of years for a number of reasons. These include running down the time of existing carriage contracts, and also a hesitation to jump on board until the technology is proven. There are now many great examples of large-scale enterprise deployments in Australia, so this should no longer be a blocker to progressing with your network of the future.

The high-profile move of Australia Post from their legacy MPLS WAN to a new managed SD-WAN solution should help to illustrate the growing maturity and acceptance of SD-WAN. If an enterprise with the scale, complexity and vast geographic footprint of Australia Post makes the leap to SD-WAN, shouldn’t your enterprise do so as well?

Summary

SD-WAN costs will almost certainly be reduced to a fraction of  existing WAN costs when deployed using best fit underlying carriage and industry leading SD-WAN platforms, while at the same time offering much higher bandwidth and optimal paths for cloud access.

Together, these effects can benefit the bottom line of an enterprise through both operational cost reductions, and a better ability to leverage cloud services.

Higher capacity services as well as optimised access paths equate to a much better overall user experience, and consequently improved productivity.

The use of a partner such as Basis Networks to manage the SD-WAN solution does not impose any additional overhead. A partner will operate in much the same manner as your existing relationship with the incumbent carrier but for a better network experience.

If you would like to learn more about our managed SD-WAN offerings, or need consulting advice to do an SD-WAN assessment and ROI, please get in touch.