Perhaps you are an IT expert who is already well versed in software-defined wide area networking, or SD-WAN, but if you are like most busy IT professionals or business executives you might be a little too distracted with the challenges of running your company today to spend a lot of time looking over the horizon at emerging technologies. Either way, it is time for you to take a closer look at SD-WAN.
Decline of Hub & Spoke Networking
In recent memory, the client server model has been dominant for companies of all shapes and sizes. In this configuration, data is stored within a company data center and then accessed by workers in branch offices via a hub-and-spoke data network. The data center was the hub and branch offices were the spokes of the data network, and the architecture was clean and efficient. Internet services were best efforts in nature with few real-time applications like voice and video running across them.
Enter the internet and the proliferation of cloud based services. CRM, ERP, UCaaS, cloud contact center, data servers, business continuity, and network tools are all available in the cloud. We see an increasing number of companies who are embracing a cloud first strategy. According to a recent Forbes article, this number stands at 52% of organizations and is poised to grow from there. From a network architecture standpoint, hub and spoke is sub-optimal in the cloud age, because traffic flows from the Internet into the hub location and then to the branch via one of the spokes, before returning to the Internet by traversing back through the hub, passing over the WAN a second time and using much more bandwidth than is necessary. For organizations running important applications online, the cost of upgrading their WANs to accommodate the traffic could be very expensive, especially where MPLS is the primary technology in the current architecture.
SD-WAN as a Solution
With SD-WAN, an expensive MPLS network can be augmented or outright replaced with broadband, for a fraction of the cost. Usually the mere mention of using broadband for business applications causes IT professionals to cringe, but there are also hybrid options where mission critical or real-time apps like VoIP and video use the private IP service and all of the best-efforts traffic moves directly to the public internet over a broadband connection. In this way, the SD-WAN can be a boon for the network by lowering costs and improving user experience as it brings an entirely new architecture and replaces the legacy network with something much more dynamic and efficient.
Will it work? Uh, yes. Look at the smart money flooding into companies like VeloCloud and Aryaka. Gartner predicts that SD-WAN will grow dramatically, from virtually nonexistent a few years ago to nearly 30% of the WAN market over the next three years.
As with any emerging technology, there are a handful of things you should look for when your company is evaluating SD-WAN solutions.
- Dynamic Bandwidth Allocation. This allows for optimal traffic and efficiencies.
- Transport-Agnostic. Your SD-WAN provider should support different types of connectivity including MPLS, Ethernet, cellular and broadband for example.
- Network Overlay. Your SD-WAN provider should create an overlay that abstracts the current WAN.
Regardless of what you thought in the past and where your network is today, SD-WAN is a promising technology that you should take a hard look at as you plan and refine your company’s IT roadmap.
Altus is the premier choice for cloud-based business communications, providing companies with flexible and secure technologies that help employees and customers stay connected more easily. Whether looking for basic voice service, comprehensive unified communications, or contact center, business executives trust Altus to deliver the latest features and functionality without costly capital spending programs. As an FCC-registered service provider, Altus offers enterprise-grade performance across its secure, geo-redundant carrier platform. Start communicating better with Altus. For more information, visit www.altusuc.com or call toll free 866.922.4001.