Before the cloud brought about software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN), but after frame relay stopped being the standardized WAN technology, most enterprises used multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) to connect to their WAN. MPLS is still the most popular form of WAN connectivity today, but with data- intensive applications on the rise this may be changing.
WAN pipes are maxing out on their speeds, and bandwidth demand is not slowing. According to Aryaka Network’s State of the WAN report of the Americas, 29% of all connection speeds in 2016 were 100 MB and above, up from just 8% in 2015. A similar trend is tracking globally, but IT budgets are not rising to meet the tide.
To make up for this discrepancy between bandwidth need and stagnant budget, IT directors and CIOs are looking for new ways to connect to the WAN.
Cloud and Virtualization
The answer seems to be found by tapping into what is causing the need for increased bandwidth -- cloud and virtualization.
MPLS architecture was designed with the intent to provide access to data center-based applications. However, enterprises are running more cloud-centric applications over their WANs, which MPLS was not natively built for. With a spike in cloud application usage, it makes sense that WAN design should also change.
PC world explains it this way: “While MPLS provides branch users with direct access to an application housed in the data centre, it can create a circuitous and more expensive path for branch users accessing cloud-based applications.”
SD-WAN has found a way to answer the needs of enterprises using cloud platforms on their networks. It connects to the WAN with a virtual overlay on top. SD-WAN overcomes many of the WAN complaints including cost, bandwidth on demand, and direct access to the cloud.
Although it seems a hassle to overhaul your legacy branch architecture, SD-WAN lets you use a hybrid model -- a softer approach. It does not gut your existing network, and allows you the flexibility to add in branches as they come out of contract. You can start small and deploy SD-WAN to just a few branches and the data center. As contracts expire, you can add them into your network. This sort of elasticity is an earmark of what will be expected from technology solutions of the future.
Check your network for vulnerabilities and invest in security. As enterprises begin to deploy SD-WAN, multiple sources of connectivity will be recommended for your network. It’s not unusual to see MPLS, LTE, and broadband all bonded together in an SD-WAN solution.
Because of the varieties of connections, there needs to be a robust ecosystem of security. There have been known vulnerabilities with LTE networks and security concerns with broadband as well. Having secure VPNs in place with end-to-end encrypted tunnels and running penetration tests can ensure you are not trading security for flexibility.
To see how SD-WAN can help your business, contact MHO Networks today.