Why you should consider SD-WAN for your business

Tom Allan
Managing Director
Tom Allan
Managing Director

Why you should consider SD-WAN for your business

Software Defined Wan is not a new concept. It first appeared in Australia about three
years ago and has steadily been gaining traction in the market since then. And
rightfully so. In this article, I will discuss if, how, and why SD-WAN can
provide value for your organization.

What is it?

SD-WAN simplifies
and improves the way businesses connect their sites to the corporate network by
using software to control and deliver network communications over (sometimes)
alternative carriage services.

The business problem

Traditional
WANs are expensive and slow, and the widespread adoption of cloud services has
resulted in networks that are incapable of delivering the performance and
security that is required by applications used by today's businesses. Further, the
old data centre centric model for hosting corporate applications and
providing Internet connectivity to branch locations is becoming less valid. More corporate applications are moving to the cloud, resulting in flows between
end-users or customers and the services they consume being sub-optimal and
costly to provide over the WAN, and negatively impacting the end-user experience.

The business solution

What if you
were able to tell your business that you were going to improve the end user
experience for your workforce when accessing their critical applications, enhance security across the
enterprise, increase branch site network resiliency, dramatically reduce your
carrier costs, and simplify the continued adoption of cloud services? These are all examples of capabilities that an
SD-WAN solution can provide, and great reasons you should be looking into how you can
leverage this technology. In this article I will highlight the key benefits I am seeing for our customers, and discuss some areas you should understand before putting your SD-WAN business case forward.

What are the
key benefits?

There are
many benefits to SD-WAN, and each vendor tends to focus on variations of
the same underlying value propositions. I find the following benefits are most interesting
to our clients:

– Connect
your branch locations securely and directly into your public cloud services
without transiting your WAN and data centres. This is key as you adopt more SaaS and cloud services and need your users to get the best possible performance via the most direct path to those resources.

The network
understands business language and uses this to make decisions, rather than basic
technical metrics. Write policies that allow traffic based on what your business actually needs.

– Deploy WAN connectivity to new sites in
minutes rather than months, and use whichever underlying carriage is best for
your sites. Get a site up and running fast and with ease.

– Replace or complement traditional WAN services
and leverage cheaper connectivity options for dramatic cost savings. Manage
your WAN from a single platform to reduce operational overhead. We have seen huge savings by moving to this model.

- Gain visibility into network traffic across
your enterprise to understand application and user behaviour. No more guessing what each site is doing on the network.

– Centrally manage your WAN and achieve
complete control over communications between your sites. Implement changes
across the environment instantaneously and without carrier input.

– Leverage high-speed Internet services to
securely connect branch locations to the corporate network via the SD-WAN for
bandwidth hungry applications and use policies to meet application performance
SLAs or route critical traffic dedicated links.

– Use SD-WAN to easily provide intelligent
resiliency at the edge of the network, combining network links and selecting
the best path for your applications. No more complicated manual configuration to achieve rapid failover capability.

– Encrypt all communications across your
network by default.

– Many SD-WAN solutions are integrated into
appliances that deliver other branch network capabilities, including security,
wireless, switching, routing, remote access. This makes it a great option for
branch offices, stores, etc. where cost, space, and manageability are
important.

SD-WAN has value for almost all of our customers, however not all benefits are available to all businesses. 

Things to
consider

While it would be nice if all benefits were achievable by all customers, realistically there are constraints that should be considered when evaluating
what value SD-WAN will bring to your organisation.

Where
are your branch sites located?
 

If the majority of your branch sites are located in regional areas with
limited carrier options, then you might not get some of the cost savings that can
be made from using cheaper, faster, network links. However, you may still get
value from using alternate services for resiliency or improved performance from
localised Internet breakouts. Conversely if your sites are primarily located in
capital cities or overseas, then it’s likely that

How do you manage your carrier services? 

If you currently manage a single
carrier for all WAN and Internet services and want to continue to do so, you
may miss some out on the carrier independence that SD-WAN can enable, and
therefore some of the cost and performance benefits. An SD-WAN solution often
gives the best results when you move to a multi carrier underlay. If you are
worried about managing multiple carriers, consider a managed SD-WAN solution
from an independent provider such as Basis Networks.

What capability do you have in your network
team?
 

SD-WAN
platforms are simpler to manage than legacy network equipment, but you still
need to perform a migration to your new solution and up skill your team to the new platform.

How
advanced is your cloud strategy?

If you have all your apps and data within your own data centres and
secure Internet traffic through a central place and wish to keep this architecture, then you won’t get as much
value from localised Internet breakouts at the edge. For those already
consuming SaaS applications such as o365 for their users or moving in that
direction, then there is likely a big advantage.

How comprehensive is your security architecture? 

Do you have a security platform
that can give visibility and control into a distributed network model? If not,
you may need to consider how you will secure and manage traffic when it no
longer goes through the data centre. Some SD-WAN solutions will take care of
this for you, and others can be complemented with security solutions that
provide control across your enterprise.

Do you have critical application performance
SLAs? 

SD-WAN allows
you to utilise any underlying carriage to securely connect your sites. In many
instances, high-speed Internet services are great for this purpose, however if
you have latency sensitive applications you may want to keep an MPLS network where
metrics such as latency can be guaranteed. In this instance, an SD-WAN can
provide exceptional value through the use of policies that stipulate that specific
traffic uses the MPLS, while other less critical traffic may use lower cost
services.

Who is going
to benefit most?

The
verticals I have found that get a high return on investment in a short time
frame include retailers, hospitality, construction, healthcare, and mid
enterprise customers with distributed office locations. That being said, our
larger enterprise customers are also having great success with SD-WAN, often deploying
it in conjunction with a traditional MPLS WAN for critical services (hybrid
WAN). Regardless of which industry they are in, the customers who have
benefited the most from SD-WAN deployments tend to have similar profiles:

·       Numerous branch sites predominantly
located in capital cities.

·       Some have overseas offices requiring
secure WAN connectivity.

·       Most have adopted (or are about to
adopt) multiple SaaS applications such as o365, Box, Salesforce, or have
corporate applications in the cloud and need the best performance possible for
all users.

·       All are looking to improve application
performance.

·       All want to pay less for WAN
services.

·       Most are looking for an easier way
to manage their network.

As you can
see, these attributes are common to many businesses and this is why SD-WAN is a
technology I believe everyone should be looking in to.

Where do you
start?

Before
jumping on the SD-WAN bandwagon, it’s important to evaluate how and why your
business may benefit, the potential ROI, and how the solution will be deployed
and managed. At Basis Networks, we are leaders in optimised connectivity, cyber
security, and network intelligence solutions with SD-WAN being a technology that
we have extensive capability in. We assist our clients with their journey
through a number of different services offerings, including:

 – to determine how SD-WAN would be used to
provide value to your business.

– including an assessment of viable
carriage options, deployment models, and ongoing operational models to
determine the best solution and expected ROI.

– including vendor analysis and
recommendations, technology consolidation, cloud connectivity, security, deployment
and management.

– deploy an SD-WAN into your
network to a number of nominated sites to prove which benefits will work for
you.

– partner with the leading SD-WAN vendors
in the Australian market and provide competitive pricing and rapid turnaround.

– cutting over to a new SD-WAN
solution and changing carriers takes careful planning and execution. We have
refined this process over many iterations and are confident we can do it faster and with less impact than the competition.

 - solutions to provide an end-to-end alternative
to single carrier WANs.

We also have numerous SD-WAN specialists who are available to augment our customer teams, to assist wherever they are in their SD-WAN journey.

Conclusion

Whether you
are looking to improve the end-user-experience, simplify the adoption of cloud,
increase agility, or drive down WAN costs, SD-WAN is a technology solution you
should be looking in to.

I recommend
investigating how it may benefit your organisation now and not waiting until
your existing WAN contracts are due for renewal, as the best deployments
maximise the capability of the platform and are not used simply as a WAN
alternative and its easier to do an evaluation when you aren’t also trying to negotiate a multi-year
WAN contract at the same time.

Contact
Basis Networks for a chat about how we can help with your SD-WAN strategy.

Basis Networks

Basis Networks are industry leaders in the delivery of intelligent connectivity, cyber security, and network intelligence solutions for Australia’s businesses.

Our highly effective approach to helping our customers deliver on their digital business initiatives has resulted in being recognised by CRN as the fourth fastest growing IT company in Australia, and the 24th fastest growing company in Australia by the Australian Financial Review, for the 2017 financial year.