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Top 5 tips to select the most secure SD-WAN technology

6 March 2019

Given the prediction that, by 2020, 80% of organisations will primarily use public cloud and there will be 10 billion mobile-connected devices¹, it’s no surprise that there’s a Software-Defined WAN boom. Many companies are using this advanced technology to simplify how they move workloads to any cloud, consume hosted applications and enable new services in remote locations. And the stats are compelling: SD-WAN offers 2.25x more bandwidth, software updates can be completed 51% faster and there’s 94% less unplanned downtime.² It’s essentially the enabler for digital transformation across hundreds of companies. 

The demand is so high that according to market-research firm IDC, nearly 75% of enterprises will implement SD-WAN within two years and the SD-WAN market is expected to grow to £7.5 billion by 2020.³ But while companies look to SD-WAN technology to enhance networks and improve efficiencies through agile traffic routing across their WAN, they absolutely cannot afford to compromise on security.

However appealing it is to deliver faster performance to the business while using less bandwidth, doing this securely is still the number one priority for many enterprises. Here we share our top 5 tips in choosing the most secure SD-WAN for your enterprise:

1. Security isn’t a bolt on – Many companies today take a security-first approach, and you should expect the same from your SD-WAN vendor. Security isn’t a bolt-on, it needs to be deeply rooted into every software defined wide area network. When evaluating SD-WAN providers, narrow your list down to only those who offer a highly-secure solution.

2. Secure the cloud edge - As branches open up to direct cloud connections and run business critical applications over the internet, securing the Cloud Edge (the intersection of the network, cloud, and security) becomes critical. However, the traditional WAN was architected for branch-to-data centre traffic flows, not to support cloud-driven traffic patterns. Historically, the way of dealing with security at the cloud edge is to send all traffic back to the corporate data centre which requires costly MPLS and can be complex and slow. If your business pursues a cloud-first strategy for application delivery, you want to be able to use cloud services with confidence. Ensure the SD-WAN technology you deploy provides a complete shield at the edge with centralised control or both network and security management.

3. Seek consistent unified threat protection – For many companies, the complexity of managing network and security operations is resulting in increased breaches worldwide. Recent data shows 46% of businesses in the UK suffered a breach costing an average of £2.48 million.4 Before you buy, make sure the SD-WAN technology you choose leverages DNS security layer and intrusion detection and the provider works with a highly sophisticated threat-intelligence partner to guard the entire connected enterprise against debilitating attacks.

4. Plan to exceed the compliance needs of your business – If you look back 10, or even 5 years, the security and compliance needs of your business will have dramatically changed. And this trend must be expected to continue. There’ll be heightened scrutiny on how enterprises store, process and report on sensitive data and you need to ensure the technologies you choose today can meet the needs of your business over the next decade. When selecting a provider, don’t only measure them up against the needs of your business today, think ahead to the sophistication you’re going to need in the future.

5. Not all SD-WAN technologies are equal – Many ransomware attacks piggyback on internet connections and open ports used by SaaS and cloud applications. Yet up to 90% of SD-WAN technologies have been found to employ only basic security.5 You need to get into the detail and be asking your provider: What multi-layer security is provided? Does this include encryption, authentication, segmentation and service chaining? Depending on what your business does and how you need to segment the WAN, you may need end-to-end micro-segmentation and security zoning. Don’t be afraid to challenge your provider.

SD-WAN is a potential game-changer for wide area networking. But choosing the most secure SD-WAN is critical to your success. Fortunately, there are ways to securely connect any user, any application, anywhere with any cloud. Use our top tips to find the right solution for your enterprise.

To learn more about the Ideal SD-WAN security stack watch our webinar recording here. 

Watch the SD-WAN Security Stack webinar recording 


Related stories:

SD-WAN vs MPLS - who would you back in a fight?

Bringing DevOps to Networking: breaking down the barriers between functions to increase agility

SD-WAN – a checklist  to get you started


Image: Camylla Battani on Unsplash

1. Cisco - How SD-WAN will Transform the Network
2. Networkcomputing.com
3. Cisco – Enterprise Networks SD-WAN
4. Ponemon Institute’s 2017 Cost of Data Breach Study
5. Securitynow.com