Opinion Piece: SD-WAN drives the work from home experience into the future

By Navinder Singh, GM at In2IT Technologies

The world of work has fundamentally changed over the last two years, with Work From Home (WFH) now firmly entrenched as both normal and desirable. This shift away from the secure networks of a closed office environment, toward more open networking using various cloud services and public internet, has been something of a challenge. The Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) has seen increasingly widespread adoption to address this challenge, particularly with overlying technologies such as the Secure Access Service Edge (SASE). This is an opportunity for the next phase of growth of the multi-cloud, enabling more services to be easily accessed from the cloud and driving WFH into the future.

The next generation of networks

Every business is unique, and their network requirements, particularly around performance and reliability, are no different – especially when it comes to facilitating a remote workforce. SD-WAN offers a next-generation solution to this challenge, enabling the use of multiple access technologies and multiple security protocols, to create an aggregated solution that meets the needs of any business.

SD-WAN simplifies networks by reducing the cost and complexity of infrastructure, improves speed at remote locations, and enables security policies to be consistently applied across the network. WAN services can be rolled out quickly and easily to remote sites for enhanced agility, with configurations to ensure business-critical traffic is given priority for improved performance. SD-WAN also facilitates the use of flexible Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) across the network or at specific sites as needed, and improves security with a wide range of integrated security features to help prevent data loss and downtime.

In addition, SD-WAN lowers complexity, reducing the burden on IT by simplifying WAN infrastructure, and reduces cost by leveraging local internet access and providing direct cloud access. This in turn enables cloud to become further entrenched for greater WFH support, because cloud services no longer need to be routed through a central data centre. Ultimately, SD-WAN offers greater flexibility, visibility and control over networks while lowering costs.

A platform for growth

The most important aspect of enabling WFH is security, which makes networks critical, and SD-WAN, with SASE on top of it, enables a plethora of ‘as a service’ offerings, including firewalls, security, privacy and more. It also forms a solid foundation for the implementation of Zero-Touch Networks (ZTN) which ensures enhanced security with identity and access management, while minimising the need for human intervention.

SD-WAN is effectively an umbrella technology, and a platform upon which a variety of next-generation services, including security and accessibility, can be built. This underlying technology enables the integration of cloud security applications into business networks, to facilitate WFH in a secure, agile, compliant and completely scalable manner.

The legacy challenge

The migration of legacy systems to next-generation technologies always poses a challenge, and in this case may require a significant amount of effort. It can also be a costly exercise to migrate existing networks onto an SD-WAN infrastructure, because this new protocol uses virtualisation extensively, which may not be supported by existing infrastructure. This would then mean that the entire backbone would need to be overhauled.

It is also vital to have Quality of Service (QoS) enabled when migrating to a new network protocol, to ensure that priorities for network traffic are configured correctly. As SD-WAN is all software-driven, this last element is more critical than ever. In light of these challenges, it has become increasingly important to have the right IT partner on board to ensure that migration and transition is properly planned and can run smoothly.

Supportive partners ensure success

With any technology transition, having an experienced partner that understands both technology and business is instrumental. The ultimate goal of SD-WAN is to enable flexibility and easier management, which requires a well-planned and well executed migration. A trusted IT partner will ensure that the promise of SD-WAN, including cost savings, improved performance, enhanced reliability and increased cloud readiness, are actually delivered.

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