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Enterprises are increasingly adopting multi-cloud architecture to enable business-critical applications provided by Azure, AWS, Google, Dell and others. The migration toward a cloud-based business model is by no means a smooth and easy transition, however. Traditional wide area networks (WANs) are insufficient to support multi-cloud architecture without requiring significant updates to the existing infrastructure. Consequently, many businesses are turning to software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN) to spearhead a multi-cloud strategy.

Traditional WAN challenges

WANs are used as a way to connect all nodes, locations, and devices in a network. Traditionally, this connection has been achieved through multiprotocol label switching (MPLS), which was regarded as the gold standard for the enterprise WAN on account of its reliability and minimum packet loss.

  • Cost: The cost per bit for broadband for MPLS is notoriously expensive, with high-bandwidth options becoming cost prohibitive for most enterprises. For example, MPLS does not support cloud initiatives well. As a result, businesses have been adopting public internet in addition to MPLS in order to have access to cloud resources.
  • Agility: Another issue with WANs is their lack of agility. Site deployments are a slow and tedious process, which can take weeks and even months to launch. This is because carriers have to spend an extensive amount of time manually configuring multiple devices at multiple sites to ensure service levels are achieved. This is unacceptable for companies that need to launch new sites on the fly.
  • Big Data: Big data is causing big challenges for the WAN as well, which has exploded with the onslaught of IoT devices. Big data generates big traffic, which places an enormous amount of strain over the WAN. While traditional WAN solutions were built with branch-to-data center traffic in mind, they are insufficient for transporting large volumes of traffic at high-network speeds, leading to bottlenecks that impair network performance.

Enter SD-WAN

SD-WAN has been championed as a way to address the challenges inherit to traditional WAN networks. An application of software-defined networking, (SDN), SD-WAN emerged as a way to intelligently and automatically steer network traffic from a centralized control plane.  By decoupling the network management plane from the physical infrastructure, SD-WAN creates a scalable, centrally controlled WAN that connects remote sites to a central corporate network.

With the rise of the cloud, the SD-WAN market has undergone an exponential boom. Companies undergoing a digital transformation are taking advantage of SD-WAN to bring cloud-delivered services to corporate and disparate offices alike. According to research firm Gartner, approximately 30% of enterprises will have deployed SD-WAN technology in their branch offices by the end of 2019, and is expected to grow to 50% within the next few years.

Benefits of SD-WAN

SD-WAN provides numerous advantages over the traditional WAN. Cost savings are a prime example. Platforms like VMware SD-WAN™ by VeloCloud® can help companies maximize the investments in their networks by augmenting and combining MPLS links with inexpensive public internet connections while improving the quality of service (QoS) and overall bandwidth.  The simplified management capabilities of SD-WAN provide additional cost savings by using multiple WAN connections simultaneously to economically distribute bandwidth availability.

Companies using cloud-based applications stand to benefit from the flexibility of SD-WAN too. The zero-touch provisioning of SD-WAN provides the agility needed to deploy new branches swiftly. Leveraging the technology, businesses are able to optimize routing paths based upon business priorities, bandwidth needs and prioritize mission-critical applications across a multi-cloud environment.

Moreover, SD-WAN can overcome challenges that big data poses to traditional WAN connections. From the centralized control plane, large volumes of traffic are analyzed to determine the optimal network paths for individual applications, from VOIP calling to video streaming. This helps deter latency and bottleneck issues that occur when network demand is high.

You can learn more about how SD-WAN can help enable a variety of cloud platforms during a presentation at VMworld 2019 US. Join us on Wednesday, August 28 at 3:30pm PT when our team members Jaspreet Bhatia and Fan Gu present “A Match Made in Heaven: Multi-Cloud Strategy and SD-WAN for Azure, AWS, Google Cloud Platform.”