Software-defined wide-area network (SD-WAN) solutions transform an organization’s capabilities by leveraging the corporate wide-area network (WAN) as well as multi-cloud connectivity to deliver high-speed application performance at the WAN edge of branch sites. One of the chief benefits of SD-WAN is that it provides a dynamic path selection among connectivity options—MPLS, 4G/5G, or broadband—ensuring organizations can quickly and easily access business-critical cloud applications.
SD-WAN solutions have become increasingly popular as organizations request fast, scalable, and flexible connectivity among different network environments, and seek to lower overall total cost of ownership (TCO) while preserving user experience. But the wrong SD-WAN solution can significantly inhibit an organization’s ability to quickly adapt to changing business demands, not least because it creates new security headaches.
A full SD-WAN solution has several key requirements. First is that, although SD-WAN is often considered a replacement for traditional branch routing architecture—and it is—effective SD-WAN solutions go well beyond branch office needs, with functionality that can extend to home office, teleworker use, and among distributed clouds. SD-WAN solutions should also be available in virtual versions available for multi-cloud environments and set up to enable sufficient Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) adoption.
SD-WAN considerations should also include intuitive orchestration, zero-touch deployment options, the ability to prioritize critical applications, and the ability to self-heal. Finally, SD-WAN solutions must include integrated security—SD-WAN by itself is another conduit for attackers to breach networks if not properly secured—and offer comprehensive analytics and reporting.