Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN) is a wholistic WAN paradigm that includes connectivity, orchestration and management. Connectivity can be using broadband Internet, 5G/LTE, MPLS or a private dedicated layer 2 network. By centralizing control in the cloud and combining functions at the edge, customers gain greater flexibility and performance combined with better economics. SD-WAN can also be delivered as-a-service, so networking can be consumed the same way as cloud services.
The traditional enterprise WAN had one purpose, connect branch offices to the headquarters where the data centers resided. Enterprise-wide applicatons and data was hosted in the data center. Users accessed these applications and data over MPLS links.
Organisations are in the midst of their cloud and digital transformation initiatives. These initiatives have created the need for a more robust, cloud-first Wide-Area Network (WAN). The cloud (public, private, and hybrid) is a key enabler of digital transformation in modern enterprises. Businesses now expect a cloud-like experience — better performance, more agility, operational simplicity, and greater responsiveness — in practically all facets of their operations. The cloud isn’t a destination; it’s a journey and an experience. Adoption of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications such as Microsoft 365, Salesforce, 8x8, and WebEx is putting ever-growing performance demands on legacy WAN architectures. At the same time, enterprises are migrating their on-premises applications and workloads to public cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offerings and placing still greater demands on their WAN architectures. As organizations continue to migrate to the cloud, the biggest challenges with their WANs are cost, complexity, and performance. One observation is that cost is no longer a top-three concern, speaking to the fact that the return on investment (ROI) of WAN transformation efforts is now better understood.
This migration has also resulted in the strong adoption of what many call the “cloud consumption model,” an OpEx versus CapEx-driven paradigm, one of consume versus construct. This model delivers the flexibility, velocity, and performance required by the modern (that is, digitally transformed) enterprise. But in following this path, they can’t leave the WAN behind. Thus, the application of the cloud consumption model to the WAN, or what’s called the network consumption model. Just as the public cloud providers take responsibility for the physical infrastructure, creating a point-and-click environment for a host of services, the network consumption model does the same for the WAN. This is the essence of the cloud-first WAN.
What IT Leaders Should Know About the SD-WAN Market
Read this white paper to understand industry analysts’ predictions about the growth of the SD-WAN market and why they matter to IT leaders preparing for digital transformation initiatives.