SD-WAN – Should It Be A Priority Or Simply Not Applicable?

Software-defined WAN is not new; network publications started using this term back in 2014 and eight years later it can definitely be considered as a mature technology.

The adoption of SD-WAN continues to grow.  Back in 2020 it was reported that over two-thirds of IT leaders had a plan in place to migrate to SD-WAN, however, Covid and multiple lockdowns placed many projects on hold. At NAK we are starting to see these projects resurface and industry analysts are reporting that the SD-WAN market is growing at over 30% year on year.

So, is it time for you to make SD-WAN a priority?  What are the things you should be considering or is it simply not relevant for you?

The Fundamental Principles of SD-WAN

Let’s start at the beginning.  Like most significant innovations, SD-WAN was born out of a business need that could be satisfied by new technology development. The business need was a changing IT landscape; the explosion of cloud and SaaS applications means that a significant proportion of network traffic from branches, stores or outlets is no longer destined for ‘head office’ but to the wider internet. The technology advance was the software-defined network which enabled the WAN to be more agile and intelligent in how it analyses and dynamically routes traffic.

For many, SD-WAN presents a cost saving solution. Expensive fixed circuits connecting branches to a hub can be either removed or significantly trimmed down and then complemented with cheaper direct internet connections delivering an overall reduction in connectivity costs.

By removing the need to backhaul all traffic through a central hub also improves performance and end-user experience as well as, by default, building greater contingency and resilience into the branch network.

But as SD-WAN technology evolves it is starting to deliver a much wider range of other benefits.

SD-WAN is Securing Branch Networks & Simplifying Management

As the boundaries of network and security continue to merge, SD-WAN is now playing a significant role in protecting the network edge. Gartner positions SD-WAN as a foundational component of their Secure Access Service Edge (SASE), an approach that is being embraced by both IT leaders and vendors.

Solutions such as FortiGate from Fortinet is making the move to SD-WAN even more compelling by delivering both SD-WAN and a Next Generation Firewall as a single solution. This enables you to tightly secure the network edge within the branch whilst embracing SD-WAN and simplifying how you configure and manage branch infrastructure.

We expand on some of these benefits in our Guide: Increasing Agility, Performance & Security with SD-Branch.

How Do You Determine The Value of SD-WAN For You

In theory, SD-WAN offers benefits in virtually all situations, but theory does not create a compelling business case; you need facts. This requires visibility into your current branch network and WAN traffic that is often hard to get.

In conjunction with Fortinet, NAK offers a free no-obligation analysis of your current infrastructure to provide you with the insight and data you need to evaluate and quantify the value of SD-WAN in your environment.

We place a FortiGate appliance acting in a passive mode on your network to fully analyse network traffic. After only a few days we are able to give you full insights into:

Application Usage

Which applications are being used on your network and their utilisation of both internal resources and external connections. This instantly shows which applications need to be backhauled to your hub and which are better served with a direct internet connection.

Bandwidth Utilisation

This quantifies the network utilisation in terms of the application usage. You can see what bandwidth is being used across all of your locations, by what category of application, and identify how this can be better distributed.

Security & Threat Prevention

As part of the analysis we are also able to highlight your threat surface area and identify application usage and/or devices that have vulnerabilities that could create unnecessary risk to your business.

You Cannot Fix What You Don’t Understand

We often find that organisations have reached a point where the demands on their WAN infrastructure is completely different to what it was originally designed to provide. Often, this manifests in a wide range of symptoms and then IT teams spend an inordinate amount of time treating the symptoms rather than addressing the root-cause.

This is where NAK can help you. Enabling you to truly understand the gap between business need and infrastructure capability and identify those quick fixes, as well as, helping you to create a clear roadmap to drive cost savings and performance improvement.

Discover more about our WAN/SD-WAN Assessment