This blog was written in partnership with the IDG Editorial team.
Organizations are increasingly embracing digital transformation to keep pace with emerging market trends, fluctuating customer demands, and increased competition. But traditional network architectures weren’t built to handle the workloads and complexities of most digital transformation initiatives. More troubling is that business-critical services are also often distributed across multiple clouds, which can compromise network performance further, especially at branch locations.
No wonder then that savvy network operations teams are turning to software-defined WAN (SD-WAN). SD-WAN benefits businesses by reducing overhead costs and increasing network performance. SD-WAN solutions cut out expensive routing and cut down on hardware costs while offering your business the flexibility to access multi-cloud services. Businesses are adopting SD-WAN to reduce overhead and support new applications and services resulting from digital transformation. This innovative technology not only simplifies the management and operation of a WAN but also delivers a number of real-world business benefits.
Here are five ways SD-WAN technology can boost the bottom line – without the IT headaches:
- Improves performance. Not all network traffic is created equal. Luckily, SD-WAN can be configured to prioritize business-critical traffic and real-time services like Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and then effectively steer it over the most efficient route. By facilitating critical applications through reliable, high performance connections, IT teams can help reduce packet loss and latency issues, thereby improving employee productivity, and boosting staff morale. This is performance with business impact.
- Boosts security. Digital transformation is a double-edged sword. While it can improve customer satisfaction and extend market reach, it can also expose an organization to significant security risks. That’s a concern, given that 41% of respondents reported an increase in the frequency of cybersecurity events in 2017, according to the U.S. State of Cybercrime survey. The good news is many SD-WAN solutions offer built-in security. However, the basic firewall and VPN functions provided by most SD-WAN solutions are often not enough, forcing IT teams to try and overlay security across elastic and dynamic SD-WAN connections after the fact. A better option is to look for SD-WAN solutions that provide a wide range of integrated security features, such as NGFW, IPS, encryption, AV, and sandboxing capabilities that can help prevent data loss, downtime, regulatory violations, and legal liabilities.
- Lowers complexity. Digital transformation initiatives can add layers of complexity to a network. The result is not only a risk of poor network performance, but over-taxed IT teams and the need for locating onsite personnel at remote sites to manage the local IT infrastructure. Fortunately, SD-WAN can ease the IT burden by simplifying WAN infrastructure, using broadband to off-load non-critical business apps, automating monitoring tasks, and managing traffic through a centralized controller. Consider looking for an SD-WAN solution that can also integrated into the local branch infrastructure to drive security and management deep into the local LAN.
- Enables cloud usage. Organizations are increasingly adopting cloud services. The good news is that SD-WAN enables direct cloud access at the remote branch, thereby eliminating backhauling traffic – routing all cloud and branch office traffic through the data center – meaning that workers can directly access cloud applications regardless of location without burdening the core network with additional traffic to manage and secure. What’s more, SD-WAN improves cloud application performance by prioritizing business critical applications and enabling branches to directly communicate to the Internet.
- Reduces costs. As organizations deploy an ever-increasing array of cloud-based applications, the amount of data travelling over a WAN increases exponentially, increasing operating costs. Fortunately, SD-WAN can reduce this price tag by leveraging low cost local Internet access, providing direct cloud access, and reducing the amount of traffic over the backbone WAN. According to an IDC survey (forecast), nearly a quarter of survey respondents expect SD-WAN cost savings of upwards of 39%, with two-thirds expecting more modest savings in the 5-19% range.
Additionally, when properly selected and deployed, SD-WAN functionality can be extended deep into the local branch LAN to ensure that security and network functionality can protect locally deployed devices and secure direct connections to SaaS applications and other online resources. Eliminating network sprawl, security risks, and inconsistent performance are among the advantages of migrating to SD-WAN. But for organizations that dive deeper, this innovative technology can offer enormous business benefits that translate to a much lower total cost of ownership and support their larger SD-Branch initiatives.
Fortinet’s Secure SD-WAN solution includes best-of-breed next-generation firewall (NGFW) security, SD-WAN, advanced routing, and WAN optimization capabilities, delivering a security-driven networking WAN edge transformation in a unified offering.
See Fortinet's SD-WAN reviews to find out how other businesses are using SD-WAN to their advantage.
Read these customer case studies to see how Warrior Invictus Holding Co., Inc. and the District School Board of Niagara implemented Fortinet’s Secure SD-WAN to alleviate network complexity, increase bandwidth, and reduce security costs.