Technology is a universe characterised by rather intimidating jargon, which can make it tough for business leaders to identify and choose the right solution. As a company that bridges the gap between your connectivity needs and the inherent complexity within IT, it is important to both clearly define the jargon and the solutions we offer.
Taking a closer look at the software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN), it is easier to understand this as a specific application of software-defined networking (SDN) technology -applied to WAN connections. These connections are used to connect enterprise networks (including branch offices and data centres) over large geographic distances.
For example, a WAN might be used to connect branch offices to a central corporate network, or to connect data centres separated by distance. In the past, these WAN connections often used technology that required special proprietary hardware. Today, more of the network control is moved into the “cloud,” using a software approach. This has multiple benefits for savvy and forward-thinking businesses.
What does SD-WAN mean for your business?
Today, enterprise customers are demanding more flexible, open and cloud-based WAN technologies – rather than seeking proprietary or specialized WAN technology that often involves expensive, fixed circuits or proprietary hardware. We seek to bring the best of cloud-based WAN technology solutions to your business, enabling both agility and flexibility.
For example, many of the new SD-WAN offerings can be used to improve and secure Internet connectivity, making the solutions more competitive when compared to expensive legacy WAN technologies (such as T-1 or MPLS). In some cases, SD-WAN technology uses Internet broadband connections to replace more expensive solutions. In addition, smart Virtualization technology can apply security and virtual private networking (VPN) technology to broadband Internet connections – making them even more secure and attractive to the enterprise user.
Importantly for your business, SD-WAN also has the advantage of removing potentially expensive routing hardware by provisioning connectivity and services via the cloud. Naturally, emerging SD-WAN technology can also be more flexible and tailored to business needs. For example, because SD-WAN connectivity can be controlled through cloud software, a customer might be able to scale up or “burst” connectivity during times of peak demand.
Customer Wins: Cost, Reliability & Security
In essence, the main goal of SD-WAN technology is to deliver a business-class, secure and simple cloud-enabled WAN connection – with as much open and software-based technology as possible. This can be used to deliver basic WAN connectivity, or it can be used for premium business services such as VPN, WAN optimization and applications delivery control (ADC).
Today, many nimble start-ups are going after the potential in the SD-WAN market, which is shaping up to be worth billions of dollars. Many of these start-ups have slightly different approaches to the market, although innovation is always the key driver.
Looking at this market, start-up Silver Peak has focused on accelerating Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications in the cloud. On the other hand, Pertino and VeloCloud are going after branch-office connectivity using SD-WAN, while Aryaka has built a global network so that companies can use WAN as a Network-as-a-Service (NaaS). Notably, more than $360 million has already been invested into SD-WAN start-ups, according to Rayno Report research.
Given these developments, incumbent WAN technology vendors that make specialised appliances for WAN connectivity (such as Cisco and Riverbed) are now focusing more on cloud-based WAN offerings.
As enterprise connectivity experts, we expect the trend to accelerate over the next few years. What started as a solution for branch-office and data-centre WAN connectivity (requiring less proprietary equipment) now appears to be expanding into a wide range of SD-WAN offerings and technologies. These include VPN, security, WAN optimization, NaaS and application policy control. Watch this space!