SD WAN: Why it's time to rethink traditional WAN infrastructure
The underlying technology and architecture of the Wide Area Network (WAN) has seen little change over the past ten years. The underlying principle of connecting a remote site to a central site, through either expensive MPLS or leased lines, continues to be used by the vast majority of organisations world-wide.
However, while WAN technology has remained relatively static, everything around it has changed significantly. We now deploy software in the cloud and consume applications as cloud-based services. We leverage cloud communications, IP telephony and video across all sites. End-users are far more mobile and expect to access rich media content from any device in any location, and we face a far greater threat from cybercriminals.
Are traditional WANs outdated?
It is not a question of whether traditional WAN technology is fit for purpose, but more a question of whether there is a better way. Advances in Software-Defined Networking (SDN) has given rise to the Software-Defined WAN (SD-WAN) and this opens up far more possibilities.
Rather than considering the WAN as something that backhauls everything to head office or a central location, it should be considered as something that connects end-users, regardless of their location, to the services they need. These services may be the Internet, central systems and data, or cloud-based SaaS applications.
The WAN should no longer be thought of as what connects your infrastructure together, but an integral part of your infrastructure. Something you manage as part of your complete network and most definitely a component that you secure.
So, what are the benefits of SD-WAN?
By adopting an SD-WAN architecture such as Cisco SD-WAN (Viptela) or Cisco SD-WAN (Meraki) opens up the opportunity to dynamically align your WAN infrastructure to the needs of each location and each end-user. In doing so you reduce both connectivity costs and management overhead. Here are just some of the benefits delivered by SD-WAN.