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The Ultimate Guide
to SD-WAN

There is a way to manage your entire network from a centralised dashboard, quickly deploy new branches with any transport, and automate operational workflows. Introducing Software-Defined WAN Access – a game-changer for the digital business.

In the wake of the UK's mass remote-working experiment, companies are now looking to harness these new ways of working for the long term. 

As a result a lot of companies are assessing the market for the right technology to keep their users connected and secure,  which is probably  how you've found our ultimate guide to SD-WAN. 

Below is all the information you will need to understand the technology; its benefits, capabilities and the right implementation to help you decide whether its right solution for your organisation.

 

Ideal - Animation with Cisco Logo

 

What is SD-WAN?

 

Let’s start from the beginning - software-defined networking (SDN) was conceptualised in 2009 at Stanford University, as a way of reimagining what connectivity methodology, operation and infrastructure looks like for this digital age.

This software defined model breaks free from rigid systems that are difficult to manage, maintain and upgrade, and instead enables a flexible, intelligent and future-proof infrastructure. SDN encompasses all network technologies, including functional separation, network virtualisation and enhanced network automation and programmability. SDN has enabled both enterprise and service providers to reimagine how networks are designed and used. Traditional enterprise network architecture and security design models are being replaced with more flexible, software-defined network perimeters providing secure access to enterprise data and services where ever they are located. 

SD-WAN therefore, was born out of this SDN model, and is a key element to the new SDN 'world'. 

It is a whole new WAN architecture, where the an enterprise network is no longer defined by physical hardware/  device based boundaries.

SD-WAN is a cloud-delivered overlay that enables application-aware routing. This intelligent overlay is programmed to optimise the network based on your business intent, so you no longer need someone to re-route traffic when the bandwidth is stretched, the SD-WAN will find the best path based on each application’s needs/ your business requirements.

It measures real-time latency. so if your prioritised applications take the most optimal routes at any given time.

Because the WAN routes traffic based on what the application requires and not what the legacy infrastructure designed, this allows your organisation to adopt more cloud services. Your network will no longer pass users through your DC into the internet, it will go straight to the source. And because it still has end-to-end encryption, your information is secure.

With most WAN traffic destined to the cloud, there’s a chasm developing between what existing wide area networks can deliver, and what the business actually needs. As new applications emerge, whether hosted on-premise or in the cloud, demands on WAN throughput, efficiency and reliability increase. Traditional wide area network architectures weren’t created to support these new digital ecosystems, so instead of accelerating the adoption of bandwidth-heavy applications, some WANs are preventing the business from moving forward at pace.

 

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Why use SD-WAN?

 

Enabling Digital Transformation

Enable digital & cloud transformation

SD-WAN simplifies how organisations move workloads to any cloud, consume cloud-hosted applications or enable new services in remote locations.
Cost Reduction

Substantially lower WAN costs

Without compromising security! Save both CAPEX and OPEX and improve the performance of the WAN: SD-WAN lowers costs by 50% or more.
Track Usage

Rapidly reduce deployment times

SD-WAN enables faster, easier WAN deployment and operation, as well as faster performance while using less bandwidth, and helps you deploy new revenue generating services in minutes - not months.
Dynamic Path

Enhance flexibility

Enjoy more choices and get flexibility to any app, platform and connectivity. You can add on network services — wireless LAN, WAN optimisation, security, and more — so you can easily activate, change and replace functions as your business grows.
SDA Icon. Benefit - Proactively Manage

Robust security

Your existing WAN can’t provide the security you need. Easily and confidently support the explosion in new endpoints by securely segmenting and adopting new users and devices at speed.
Deliver App Performance

Deliver app performance

Transform the end-user experience with a predictable SLA and no app outages due to networking. Not only is application performance more reliable, but applications will also run faster and can be deployed in minutes.

The Benefits of SD-WAN

 

Drive Digital Transformation & Cloud Readiness

Drive Digital Transformation & Cloud Readiness

Cloud on-ramp for IaaS and SaaS:
  • Bring cloud-based infrastructure (IaaS) easily into the fabric
  • Optimise migrations to cloud-based applications and improve CX
  • Protect application SLAs with granular control and Intent-Based policy

Improve Security and Compliance

Improve Security and Compliance

E2E Micro-Segmentation, Encryption and DPI:
  • Securely connect users to applications
  • Security Zoning (FW filtering between VPNs)
  • Protect data from WAN edge to the cloud
  • Enable Secure Direct Internet Access

Eliminate Cost and Complexity

Eliminate Cost and Complexity

Cloud-Managed, Hybrid WAN and Zero Touch Provisioning:
  • Centralised and automated policy enforcement
  • E2E Visibility to accelerate time to resolution
  • Simplify deployments and speed up new site provisioning with ZTP
  • Substitute lower cost links or devices for higher cost

SD-WAN Resources

 

A Beginner's Guide to SD-WAN

Wondering what SD-WAN is and how it can help accelerate your business? Download our Beginner's Guide to learn more.

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

Here we share our top 5 tips in choosing the most secure SD-WAN for your enterprise.

SD-WAN a checklist to get you started

SD-WAN is a game changer for the digital business, we've devised a checklist of ten things to narrow down your search.

Webinar: could SD-WAN be a game-changer for your business?

During the 36 minute recording we cover:

  • Why SD-WAN
  • What SD-WAN looks like through a short demo 
  • A summary of the key business benefits
  • Interactive Q&A session

SD-WAN vs MPLS

20  years ago MPLS  represented “the wave of the future”. However, consider how our commercial dependency on the internet and our use of apps has evolved and changed in the last 10 years alone. The internet, and the ability for people to work and interconnect from anywhere with anyone or with any application, is is still growing in terms of content, bandwidth, and performance. Even the recent sudden need for many to pivot their lives to remote and home-based working has, the odd report notwithstanding, not  impacted the overall internet performance. It will drive the need for remote collaboration capacity higher and faster. Our applications and data use the cloud by default, and video calls have become just another part of our personal and professional life.

With this in mind we believe there is a place for hybrid network infrastructures where SD-WAN solutions utlilise existing infrastructure technologies, such as MPLS, until major structural changes can be invested.

SD-WAN vs MPLS

It’s argued that there is a place for both SD-WAN and MPLS in modern WANs, but what is the right choice for you? 
Read the blog post

Securing the enterprise in the clouds - why you need to understand SASE now

So, what exactly is Secure Access Service Edge (SASE)? 

The Zero Trust Model of information security basically kicks to the curb the old castle-and-moat mentality that had organizations focused on defending their perimeters while assuming everything already inside didn’t pose a threat and therefore was cleared for access.” - CSO, UK  

SASE is the convergence of WAN and network security services, such as  CASB, FWaaS and Zero Trust, into a single, cloud-delivered service model. A SASE architecture identifies users and devices, applies policy-based security, and delivers secure access to the appropriate application or data. This approach allows organisations to apply secure access no matter where their users, applications or devices are located.  

According to Gartner, “SASE capabilities are delivered as a service based upon the identity of the entity, real-time context, enterprise security/compliance policies and continuous assessment of risk/trust throughout the sessions. Identities of entities can be associated with people, groups of people (branch offices), devices, applications, services, IoT systems or edge computing locations.” 

Reference 1: Gartner - The Future of Network Security Is in the Cloud 

Find out more about SASE

Want to know more about the SASE architecture?
Read our blog

Things to consider before you buy

 

security

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.
cloud

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.
Eliminate Cloud Waste

Seek consistent unified threat protection

For many companies, the complexity of managing network and security operations is resulting in increased breaches worldwide. 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-evidence-compliance

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.
Modern Desktop - BuiltInCompliance

Not all SD-WAN technologies are equal

Many ransomware attacks piggyback on internet connections and open ports used by SaaS and cloud applications. 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.

5 Steps to your SD-WAN solution

 
Step 1 - Discovery

Asses your network traffic to understand:

  • What traffic is running across your network?

  • What bandwidth is being used?

  • What applications are running on your network?

  • Where are your applications located? Are they Saas, data centre or Iaas?

Step 2 - Define

Scope your security requirements and decide whether want edge security at the user device, SD-WAN device or Firewall.

 

Step 3 - Evaluate

Evaluate your current infrastructure to:

  • What elements can be reused or repurposed?

  • What current contracts are in place? And how long do they have left?

  • What service providers are you using and can they provide the SD-WAN solution you need?

Step 4 - Select

Find the right partner for your organisation, solution and goals. 

 

Step 5 - Deploy

Work with your technology partner to implement your new solution.

Oh, and

 

Step 6 - Enjoy!

Now you can enjoy a centrally managed, intelligent routing network overlay, delivering flexibility and bringing the network closer than ever to business intent and traffic flow requirements.

More SD-WAN Resources

Learn more about SD-WAN

Learn how you can provide your users with a superior application experience, while delivering consistent unified threat protection from branch to cloud.

A Buyer's Guide to SD-WAN

The case for change.

6 Ways to stay competitive

Is your business crying out for more flexibility, agility and performance from your creaking network?

5 reasons to consider outsourcing your SD-WAN

With a fully managed service, you can be liberated from the hassle of building and maintaining the network on your own. Which means you get to leverage the latest technology, and have time to do what you do best.

Book A Free Consultation With One Of Our Experts

Want to understand how to create value, protect your world and accelerate change in your digital business? 

One of our experts can help. Book your free consultation by clicking below.

 

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