The cloud revolution has ushered in the greatest transformation of business operations and workflows in history. Cloud applications are now the foundation of most organizations, which has greatly enhanced business productivity and collaboration. And these essential applications need to be efficient and reliable—which is why SD-WAN is becoming one of the most successful networking functions in decades. Fast and reliable business applications running on agile, secure network connections is the name of the game.
The recent shift to a mostly remote workforce accelerated SD-WAN adoption as more organizations adopted multi- and hybrid cloud compute and services models. According to a report by IDG Research Services and Masergy, over 90% of organizations expect to eventually adopt an SD-WAN solution. And the Dell’Oro Group, Inc. expects SD-WAN technologies to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 24% over the next five years, to the tune of $4 billion by 2025.
As it happens with new technologies that spark interest in the industry, the SD-WAN market became overcrowded with vendors purporting to offer the best solutions. But not all SD-WAN solutions are created equal. Vendor selection can only be best made after clearing away the clutter and focusing on priorities. Organizations need to evaluate their current network infrastructures and understand what it is they need from an SD-WAN solution. I recommend these things to consider:
Of course of utmost considerations is cost. The total cost of ownership (TCO) for SD-WAN can be hard to deduce. What may seem like an affordable solution can overwhelm IT staff with its limited configuration options or lacking support for use cases. And if you are attempting to build your own security overlay, cost and resource needs could spiral out of control very quickly.
With a fully-integrated SD-WAN solution, organizations should expect 100% ROI in three years, and some customers will be able to achieve that after only one year of implementation. Regardless, your chosen SD-WAN solution should immediately deliver ROI benefits attributed to things such as reducing infrastructure costs, transitioning from static, more expensive MPLS connections to more flexible and affordable broadband, and consolidating SD-WAN, a wireless controller, routing, and built-in LTE connectivity into a single solution.
Taking into account all of the aforementioned items, here are a few more things to consider when evaluating an SD-WAN solution:
Performance: Because today’s businesses run on applications, users need reliable access and speed to get the work done. Your SD-WAN solution must allow the quickest access to cloud-based applications without sacrificing any performance for security. SD-WAN should be deployed on a platform that was specifically built for speed.
Rapid deployment: An integrated, single-pane-of-glass orchestration and management console can ensure that connections, configurations, advanced routing functionality, and protections are easily configurable and visible and work together as a single, fully integrated system.
Easy expansion to all edges: SD-WAN offers much more than just connecting branch offices to cloud services or the core network. SD-WAN can also run natively in every major public cloud environment, be able to scale to support large data centers, sit on a WFH desktop, and be deployable to every corner of the network. This can enable fast and secure connections from anywhere to anywhere, to all edges: WAN to LAN (SD-Branch), OT, data center, and cloud (SASE).
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