The IT space has changed dramatically in the past 10 years with the evolution of cloud computing and other IT offerings allowing businesses to add and modify services ‘on-demand’ as needed. And just as cloud and virtualization radically changed how we consume IT services in the past decade, Software Defined Networking (SDN) is poised to do the same by offering new models and efficiencies for IT infrastructures across the globe.
While that kind of change has occurred in the infrastructure space, the world of Wide Area Networking (WAN) has stayed essentially the same and has produced the same level of success and frustration for as long as most would like to remember. Thankfully, though, the rapid adoption of software defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) services is changing the world of networking in much the same way that cloud computing changed the hardware world. I think of it is as the “cloudification” of network, and just as the cloudification of servers brought new opportunities and capabilities for the IT professional, so, too, does SDN (in almost the exact same way).
How does that equate to everyday life managing network infrastructure or application workloads? First, getting in front of the SDN wave is an opportunity for forward thinking IT professionals to create business value in ways never dreamed of in the recent past. It’s not just right size compute capacity to match application workloads but also right size bandwidth, or better yet – to take advantage of broadband capacity to bolster improvements for bandwidth intensive applications like video conferencing, big data initiatives and unified communications.
Ask yourself this question: When was the last time a network technology created this kind of opportunity and change? The answer: It’s been quite a while. Software defined networking is creating that catalyst by redefining, or removing altogether, many of the headaches and bottlenecks of traditional network architectures while creating enormous flexibility and adaptability in ways that can change businesses.
SD-WAN offerings are relatively new when compared with other services like cloud offerings. Fortunately, as cloud and other various ‘as a service’ solutions have become widely accepted it has created an atmosphere where SD-WANs can gain quick acceptance as a strong option for businesses.
To help understand the benefits of this rapidly emerging network option, below is a quick list of some of the advantages of SD-WAN.
- True hybrid networks – Imagine a multi-site network configuration that consist of connections that include cable, DSL, wireless and MPLS (where appropriate) which work in a federated manner and have uniform rules across the network regardless of network type?
- New site brought into network without the provisioning hassles – The days of needing to provision a new circuit for a new location ends if you decide to use SD-WAN for your network. A new site can have an appliance drop shipped, you plug it into the existing connection, regardless of provider, and pre-defined templates handle the network configuration automatically. Yup, you read that correctly.
- A single pane of glass for management – Handle everything from high priority traffic over an MPLS circuit, to lower priority traffic over a cable connection, as part of the same WAN. Establish all networks rules from routing to QoS policies regardless of the connection. You have complete control over something that was once a management nightmare.
- Flexibility and agility – By having a truly responsive network structure via SD-WAN you can now meet the once impossible demand of business stakeholders. The role of IT is now as a partner rather than an obstacle. It’s a win/win.
There are more things to consider that make SD-WAN something that the IT / telecommunications professional of the future will need to master. Right now, the opportunity to gain a real advantage for your business is enormous. Early adopters stand to gain the most if they move now.
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