Cloud initiatives, digital transformation and bandwidth-intensive real-time applications such as collaboration platforms are impacting the way enterprise-wide area networks (WANs) are built, driving the need for software-defined area networks (SD-WANs).
A successful unified communications (UC) project as well as an entire organization’s unified communication and collaboration (UCC) transformation could hinge on SD-WANs, which enable the connection of all an organization’s locations, including their various public and private clouds, in a secure fashion. SD-WANs unlock unprecedented application visibility, control, and protection across all the available transport circuits, delivering the highest quality experience for employees and customers alike.
How is an SD-WAN different than a regular, legacy WAN?
SD-WANs save money while offering superior capabilities. Organizations can build a resilient, smart and application-aware network for a fraction of the cost and time of setting up a legacy WAN.
SD-WANs are far more economical, saving both time and money
Traditional WANs are built to provide enterprise businesses a resilient and quality-of-service (QoS) enabled path. Building a traditional network comes with a wait time of up to 120 days, during which carriers produce the custom multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) circuits. Then, highly skilled (and very expensive) expert engineers must architect, install and operate the network, which can take additional time and add cost.
With SD-WANs, clients can leverage the most cost-effective bandwidth available without compromising QoS delivery. SD-WANs enable businesses to eliminate carrier dependencies and leverage a variety of circuits — like DIA, MPLS, 4G or 5G, and broadband — to establish cloud connectivity. By using all available circuits, organizations attain optimal bandwidth usage and make better use of their investment. Organizations can bring up SD-WANs in minutes and establish the application delivery fabric right away, giving them the ability to leverage SD-WAN instantaneously, thus reducing the time spent spinning up new offices.
SD-WANs has robust failure detection
The majority of enterprises configure their networks in an Active/Standby mode where the standby circuits are engaged when the primary circuit fails. Not only is that a wasted investment, due to circuits standing unused, but even more concerning, it means that customers usually don’t uncover that their secondary circuit was down or setup incorrectly until the primary circuit fails — which is too late.
An SD-WAN allows organizations to use all of their circuits and their entire bandwidth. If any of the circuits should fail, the network detects the service degradation (brownout), autocorrects the issue and routes service to operational circuits. This built-in failure protection is a critical piece of the digital workplace because it prevents users from experiencing any effects of a circuit failure. That means conference calls, video chats, and internet service continue on with business as usual, even if one of the circuits is out of commission.
What types of businesses benefit from an SD-WAN?
The answer is simple: Any business that has two or more locations and uses more than one interactive application (such as UCC voice or video products) or cloud application will benefit from an SD-WAN. Some of the most common business drivers for SD-WAN adoption are cutting costs, improving user experience and supporting specific needs of applications that operate on the cloud, like Office 365 and even unified communication as a service (UCaaS).
In fact, leading SD-WAN platforms have specific features geared toward UCC. The network has the ability to recognize voice and video collaboration applications and appropriately prioritize them across the circuits. Beyond prioritizing, the network can also trigger and protect voice traffic to a much higher degree than a legacy MPLS network.
A superior UCC environment hinges on support from a superior network infrastructure
SD-WAN technology will only continue to gain importance as enterprises continue to move toward the cloud for their communications solutions. SD-WANs allow enterprises to leverage all of their network assets across a variety of applications to experience high levels of quality and service reliability. When pairing SD-WANs with UCC solutions, enterprises are able to deliver a superior level of quality and service to users in a more budget-friendly and efficient manner.