Geographically distributed enterprises are embracing SD-WANs at an accelerating pace. Why? Because SD-WANs not only save money, they help businesses make money by increasing business productivity.
As more and more enterprise applications migrate to the cloud, backhauling that traffic from the branch to headquarters doesn’t make sense. End users often find their business apps run faster over their home internet service or even on their mobile device.
Historically, the internet was a best-effort amalgam of networks. It wasn’t secure or reliable enough to meet business needs. And it certainly didn’t perform well enough to support latency-sensitive or bandwidth-intensive business applications. Now, SD-WAN offers a way to overcome performance, reliability and security objections in deploying business broadband.
With internet access redefining the economics of networking, the segment is skyrocketing, as are channel partner opportunities.
In part one of a two-part roundable series, we sat down with Aryaka’s Claudio Perugini, SVP of Global Channels, to discuss the details of deployment, and how channel partners and enterprises can ensure a smooth implementation for this buzzy technology.
ChannelVision: What are the main points that SD-WAN solves for enterprises?
Claudio Perugini: Legacy networks like MPLS simply were not built for the cloud. They are cumbersome and take time to deploy and scale. They also require an investment in WAN-optimization hardware, and an army of human resources to maintain the network. While they do provide more reliability and security than the public internet, they’re no longer able to keep up with the rest of the enterprise’s demands.
Global business needs have evolved beyond deploying secure private connections between data centers and regional branch offices. They now must consider connecting mobile users, multiple geographies, and third-party cloud and SaaS. What’s more, they must do it all while maintaining a consistent user experience for all employees worldwide.
The solution to this problem is an SD-WAN with a cloud-native private network. In other words, create an MPLS-grade private network out of points of presence (POPs) distributed around the globe and use SD-WAN and WAN optimization to accelerate application performance, reduce complexity and save costs. This “SD-WAN with a WAN” model is what global enterprises need to be truly successful with application delivery over long distances, because it’s not just the access to cloud and SaaS applications that defines the disruption – it’s access to those applications without re-introducing the problems that MPLS was meant to solve in the first place.
CV: While the promise and the premise of the technology are good, the devil is always in the details. What are some best practices for ensuring that the transition from MPLS to SD-WAN goes smoothly?
CP: There are two main ways to provide SD-WAN services: using just edge-devices or internet-based SD-WAN, or a global SD-WAN, with the technology built into a global private network. Today many companies have positioned themselves as an SD-WAN provider, each with their own idea on how the technology works and what solution it offers the business. With so many vendors claiming to be SD-WAN, it can be difficult to determine which solution is right when upgrading from MPLS.
Not all SD-WAN solutions are equal, and this is evident when companies with a global presence transition from MPLS to SD-WAN. Global enterprises that transition from MPLS to internet-based SD-WANs are left wanting for fast and consistent application performance especially for cloud-and SaaS-based applications, as access to these can be painfully slow over the unreliable public Internet.
If enterprises are looking for enterprise-grade connectivity with reliable and consistent performance for all global applications, including on-premises, SaaS, and cloud services for voice, video and data, a global SD-WAN with a cloud-native private network is the answer.
Compared to MPLS, SD-WAN can make it easier and cheaper for an organization to spin up new branches or set up offices from anywhere, but it is important for any IT leader to assess the needs of their enterprise before doing so. The geographical distribution of the business, its locations, and the way the network is managed are very important to determine before choosing an SD-WAN deployment.
CV: What about security? What data handling considerations are at play for the transition?
CP: Security of end-user data must be a key consideration for all SD-WAN vendors. The important thing for a global SD-WAN solution is to be able to deliver business-critical traffic over a secure, encrypted private network. The SD-WAN solution itself should have a multi-layer security approach with a global private closed network, fortified security on the POPs, DDoS mitigation, end-to-end encrypted tunnels and stateful firewalls. The provider can partner with cloud-security platform providers to gain the added layer of advanced security controls needed for web and cloud-bound traffic. These partners would inspect traffic to provide threat prevention, data protection and access control for users, wherever they connect.
CV: Is it possible for SD-WAN to be a “simple” implementation?
CP: Yes. But it depends on the SD-WAN provider’s deployment model.
In the past, global enterprises would construct their own network infrastructure to provide employees with fast and consistent access to data and applications. Installing internet-based, do-it-yourself SD-WAN appliances can add more complexity. However, as businesses need to scale, they can find themselves dealing with multiple providers managing tens of ISP or MPLS contracts, WAN optimization devices, SD-WAN appliances, visibility software and an army of network administrators.
With an SD-WAN-as-a-service model, enterprises can consume their network the same way they consume SaaS applications like Salesforce or cloud services such as AWS. Global, cloud-native private connectivity, WAN optimization, SD-WAN functionality, and network and application visibility are included. The WAN management is handled in full by the provider. This model is also significantly faster to deploy than waiting for hardware at each branch office and setting up MPLS.