The days of the traditional router-based hub-and-spoke WAN architectures being good enough for most enterprises are long gone. Enterprises must alter their WAN architectures in support of new digital business initiatives and the adoption of public cloud services. The rationale behind this shift is that the migration of applications to the public cloud brings distinct challenges with it, including:
- Network performance problems as traffic is backhauled, which typically increases latency. In a recent survey by Gartner, 46% of organizations still backhaul internet traffic to a central location.
- WAN expenses increase due to backhauled internet traffic. Clients report that backhauled internet traffic represents 50% to 80% of overall traffic on their MPLS networks.
- Gartner estimates that more than 50% of Gartner clients will deploy hybrid WANs within two years.
Gartner has predicted that by now more than 40% of WAN edge infrastructure refresh initiatives are based on virtualized customer premises equipment (vCPE) platforms or software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) software/appliances instead of traditional routers (up from less than 5% a short while ago). This migration has gained momentum thanks to many factors, such as:
- The ability to leverage all available bandwidth across multiple links, even for a single high-bandwidth flow – from MPLS to broadband to LTE.
- New technologies allow enterprises to buy inexpensive commercial-grade Internet connections at their branch sites and aggregate at least two links together to create a single bundled link that’s stronger and more reliable. They also provides rural sites with QOS-enabled bandwidth to use voice over IP (VoIP) along with other critical business applications.
- Enterprises can manage their entire WAN through a single interface. In the past, making changes to network configurations in branch offices would have required creating and installing manual configurations and on-site technician to do it. SD-WAN allows customers to control their entire WAN remotely.
- Customers can control and shape the bandwidth at each of their remote locations centrally.
In addition to the superiority of SD-WAN over traditional network architecture, the platform brings entirely new benefits with it.
- SD-WANs can be consumed as either software vms that runs on commodity infrastructure or as appliance-based hardware/software combinations.
- SD-WAN ensures that applications work without interruption, even in the case of link failure or network impairments such as high jitter, delay, or packet loss.
- SD-WAN allows for the replication of flows and packets across disparate links, which is especially helpful for real-time apps like VOIP that require platinum QoS support.
- SD-WAN extends the reach of the corporate WAN into the cloud by delivering an encrypted infrastructure with the performance, reporting, and control capabilities companies require to ensure successful deployments.
- Carrier Agnostic – SD-WAN is extremely scalable, allowing for thousands of WAN links with continuous, real-time path measurements to accommodate Quality-of-Experience standards set by cloud service access providers and edge-network co-location facilities to be interwoven without causing problems.