SD-WAN has been making the news for quite some time now and it looks like it’s here to stay. According to a recent IDC report, SD-WAN adoption is growing and fast. With 70% of surveyed organisations planning to adopt SD-WAN in the next 18 months. This shift to SD-WAN is of little surprise with so many benefits including cost savings, consistent security and reduced complexity, according to IDC.
However, there seem to be many unanswered questions still out there about SD-WAN and it is high time the record is set straight. Fortunately for you, we have answered the six most common questions asked by enterprises.
What is SD-WAN?
“What is it?” is the most common question asked by organisations we speak to even today, so let’s start with the basics and define exactly what SD-WAN is. Software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) is an alternative approach to the traditional WAN connections. Instead of hardware, SD-WAN uses software and virtual network overlays to take advantage of available WAN connections to connect enterprise networks over multiple sites in different locations. SD-WAN offers compelling advantages including reduction of both hardware and software costs, network operating expenses, increased reliability, availability and flexibility, faster provisioning and improved application performance.
More on SD-WAN: What is SD-WAN and why is it critical to your IT strategy?
Can we really use internet bandwidth for an enterprise network?
The answer is quite simply absolutely!
The rapid development of technology and especially the growth of optical fibre communication has enabled the rapid improvement of bandwidth speed and performance in the past few years. Business-class high-speed Internet bandwidths with speed at even 1Gbps are available and can be used for enterprise networks.
How does SD-WAN save you money?
SD-WAN reduces a company’s dependency on MPLS so effectively lowers the operating costs by relying less on expensive private links and using inexpensive public connections instead. The cost of MPLS per Mbps can be up to 100 times the cost of bandwidth, depending on geography; and even with MPLS costs dropping down, the price of broadband Internet is still much cheaper with the price gap between MPLS and enterprise-class Internet being as high as 30%, Gartner estimates.
Additionally, Gartner predicts that enterprises will need 28% additional bandwidth in order to meet the demands of modern application usage (compounded annual growth rate); so on top of the cost-savings described above, companies will be able to afford more bandwidth than they currently can relying on MPLS.
Furthermore, the increased flexibility, visibility and control with SD-WAN mean that the network becomes easier to manage, operate and maintain. SD-WAN helps mitigate costs in provisioning remote sites, lowers the expenses associated with scaling or adapting network resources and also cuts time spent on ongoing network management.
Can we fully replace our MPLS network with SD-WAN?
Yes, you can, this comes down to choice and what you think is best for your business.
SD-WAN can fully or partially replace the existing MPLS connections. The MPLS replacement doesn’t need to be done all at once, a phased transitional approach is often the way most organisations go. Since SD-WAN is a disruptive technology and with many stakeholders relying on MPLS for decades, some IT Managers prefer to create a hybrid architecture by keeping some of their MPLS connections, replacing 50% to 80% of them in order to validate SD-WAN’s performance and reliability.
There are Enterprises which are more familiar with the technology and are happy to completely replace all of their existing MPLS connections with SD-WAN to maximise the benefits. If you are interested to hear more about these organisations and exactly how we helped them with this transition please contact us for further insight.
How easy is it to test the platform in your environment?
At RDC we understand that it is essential to rigorously test an SD-WAN solution in your own environment before committing to it. A POC (Proof of Concept) is not a complicated exercise and is the best approach.
With a large number of successful global POCs and installations of our recommended solution Silver Peak, we can help you execute a successful POC so you can fully grasp the benefits of SD-WAN adoption.
Do I need to wait for my network contract to end before looking at SD-WAN?
There is no need to wait. As SD-WAN acts as a virtual overlay on top of your existing MPLS network you don’t need to wait until the end of your contract to deploy it. SD-WAN can be adopted without uprooting your entire network or ripping out the old MPLS connections. In this situation, SD-WAN is simply going to improve and enhance your MPLS infrastructure until the contract expires.
We hope this article has been of interest, if you are considering SD-WAN adoption or there are any questions you often hear about SD-WAN that are not in our top 6 please do get in touch.