The common thread is that with each innovation, technology has come closer and closer to what business needs it to be. Not something your people need to adapt to (remember the PITA factor of the first VPNs?) but a solution that answers the issues the business already has, in a seamless and integrated way without creating fresh pain points of its own. Like trouble-free security. Availability of apps. Diversity of devices. And the profusion of people working far from the office.
In this blog, we’ll share what matters most: not deep-dive into the tech, but the SD-WAN benefits to your business.
Benefit 1: Underlay agnostic. If it’s webbable, it’s SD-WANnable
The basic feature of SD-WAN is that like VPN, it’s a private network exchanging data over encrypted “tunnels” that keep things secure even on a non-private infrastructure—like an everyday internet connection. Business broadband to private MPLS circuit, home WiFi to mobile 5G: as long as it’s got an IP connection, SD-WAN can use it.
It’s great for today’s connected world, because it lets you extend your SD-WAN to your furthest branches and most challenging locations: remote sites, rural locations, developing countries. Without having to put pricey infrastructure like dedicated circuits in. (Wide Area Networking is the name of the game, in any case.) Or even, in most cases, new infrastructure at all.
There are, today, massive worldwide business SD-WANs with nothing but local ISPs as their underlay. (In fact, that’s one of the things Expereo does best.) Meaning SD-WAN is cost-effective to set up, fast to deploy, and flexible when needs changes. All that stuff you like.
Benefit 2: Living on the edge: right for SASE
The next benefit is more conceptual. Imagine a world with no internet (the horror!) and your business depends on people visiting your building. You want to check each person in, know what their job is, and give them the resources they need to do it. And you need to do this at the office door, not the CEO’s office, so people aren’t deep inside the building before you realize they’re bad actors.
It sounds odd today, but in the past many business networks used this “executive floor” model: a single login to the corporate network, with access all areas once authenticated. What’s worse, that model relied heavily on the device, not the person. A stolen or compromised laptop—or even just a carelessly written-down password—left the whole network open to anyone with bad intentions.
The modern model is SASE (pronounced “sassy”) which basically means the user is authenticated at the perimeter of the network (the office front door) not at the core. And that authentication isn’t access-all-areas, but case-by-case, with a list of permissions governing what applications and data he/she can see.
SD-WAN works beautifully with this SASE model; it’s one of the key differences between SD-WAN and VPN. Once again, SD-WAN works the way your business works.
Benefit 3. A network perfect for the cloud . . . and beyond
Businesses of all sizes are moving inexorably into the cloud, with SaaS providers letting them outsource key parts of their information infrastructure to experts with skills outside their core competencies. And SD-WAN is tailor-made for this cloud services model.
Actually, if you had to design the perfect network architecture from a clean sheet of paper, it’d look a lot like SD-WAN. A user doesn’t need to care where the SaaS is, as long as he can use it—and nor does SD-WAN. Your business doesn’t want to manage uptime and burst capacity, so cloud provides it; so does an SD-WAN, with SLAs offering guarantees of service quality and SD-WAN Gateways offering dedicated connectivity to avoid bottlenecks at borders.
There’s another huge plus. A managed SD-WAN doesn’t just guarantee minimum quality: it actively seeks to maximize data flows, intelligently directing network traffic along the most favorable routings.
It’s called Expereo Cloud Acceleration, and it’s part of the parcel of Expereo’s SD-WAN. Stretching those SD-WAN benefits even deeper into the way modern businesses work: the cloud model.
Benefit 4: SD-WAN creates a more equal society
People have been dialing into corporate networks since the Stone Age. Or at least sometime after 1996, when Microsoft engineers developed the PPTP protocol.) The trouble was that those early VPNs created a two-tier society within the company.
The point-to-point connection of a traveling salesperson was nowhere near as good as his colleague’s at corporate HQ. This means he had less access to resources, and it took him longer to get his work done. Inevitably, this meant his experience as an employee just wasn’t as good. Causing his work performance to suffer.
With today’s broadband connections, people outside the office often enjoy bandwidth a little different to wired ones downtown; in many parts of the world, they’re actually better. This means an SD-WAN can offer remote and mobile employees the same resources as anyone else in the company, at equivalent performance levels.
It’s a trend in business that management structures are getting flatter. There are fewer layers between a new starter fresh out of college and the C-levellers in the executive suite; there’s a more equal society within the enterprise, with people valued for their skills and expertise more than their years of service. We think that’s a good thing—and by enabling equality of connectivity, SD-WAN is with them all the way.
Benefit 5: SD-WANs are in sync with today’s security stance
Following on from the SASE note above, it’s worth reiterating another benefit of the “edge” model SD-WAN works so well with. We authenticate at the edge because the edge is where the complexity is. Hordes of people, scattered around different places, using a multiplicity of connections and devices. Any one of which could be harboring bad actors or malware.
Other technologies in the SASE model—like ZTNA, “Zero Trust Network Access”, and CASB, Cloud Access Security Broker—also synchronize with the philosophy of SD-WAN. The device, as a unit, does not provide authentication. Each login attempt is a particular set of conditions that must be met, irrespective of the device they’re happening on.
Resources may be on a corporate server in the basement or a rack in a cloud data center. The end-user may be on a work laptop or the family PC in the den. But each connection happens at a deeper level: between the user’s list of permissions and the application or data they apply to, each a secure IP tunnel accessible to nothing else.
Most times, malware elsewhere on the hard disk won’t even know the connection is there, much less be able to compromise it. Which is just the way your business wants it.
Benefit 6: SD-WANs are flexible and adaptable
From Silicon Valley gurus to Ivy League academics, business thinkers drink the Kool-Aid of staying nimble. Microsoft still talks of “turning on a dime”; Google moves fast and breaks things.
That’s a sixth SD-WAN benefit: without being tied to a fixed infrastructure, it can shift and shape itself to your needs today, without waiting for the next IT budget refresh. If you acquire a company of 1,000 people and need to integrate them fast, an Expereo SD-WAN can give them access in a blink. If mission-critical cloud applications have a massive burst of activity between nine and ten each morning, capacity can shrink and grow on the fly to handle it. And when that new site in difficult geography comes online, SD-WAN is ready to join them in your global operations. (Even if it’s in a more challenging country, like China.)
SD-WAN gives your network the power to grow with your requirements. To change and evolve in response to customer needs and market conditions. Again, just like your business.
SD-WAN benefits are too many to mention
As the above shows, the decision to move to SD-WAN doesn’t have to be a technical one. It’s about basic principles of good business that go all the way back. Connecting people. Maximizing employee performance. Expanding your ability to serve customers and more of them. That’s SD-WAN: all business.
We’re all business at Expereo, too. So let’s talk some?
Bob is a Senior Solution Engineer at Expereo with over 25 years of experience with consulting, designing, implementation and management of technology solutions. His areas of expertise include SASE, SD-WAN, Security, Internet, and Private Networks.More articles by Bob Kukic