Increasing numbers of businesses are realising the benefits of flexible working – allowing employees a degree of freedom to choose the hours they work and also where they work from, be it at a choice of company locations or from home. This greater agility in working patterns has been demonstrated to boost productivity and employee satisfaction.
To get the most out of flexible working, you also need flexibility in your business infrastructure, in terms of your connectivity, systems and security posture – which is where SD-WAN has started to make an entry.
Software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) can help boost your private network versatility in a way which supports more flexible approaches to working and is becoming an increasingly popular choice amongst businesses. By 2024, research from Gartner predicts that 60% of enterprises will have implemented SD-WAN, compared with fewer than 20% in 2019.
Whether your organisation is hoping to deploy SD-WAN in the near future, or is simply weighing up its options, there are many considerations, and in some cases misconceptions, that you should be aware of. Here’s an overview of the key questions you may have.
SD-WAN or MPLS?
A common misconception is that SD-WAN may replace traditional Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) WAN solutions, but this is not necessarily the case. MPLS is a secure high speed, low latency method of data transport which SD-WAN, as with other forms of internet connectivity, can be integrated with and complement. SD-WAN’s role is to deliver more hands-on control of your network, allowing you to steer traffic to business applications effectively, across the connectivity that is available to you. This can all be achieved regardless of whether you are a direct internet access (DIA) customer or MPLS customer.
Is SD-WAN Secure?
SD-WAN doesn’t change the type of risks businesses face, be those from malware, viruses, application vulnerabilities, phishing, spear phishing as well as DoS and DDoS. However, the most common way organisations tend to subject themselves to risk is by failing to introduce sufficient management and monitoring tools within their IT environment, to both proactively detect and mitigate such risks. Applying an SD-WAN overlay to your connectivity solutions allows businesses to apply security policies on a site by site basis as well as notify and mitigate potential security threats locally, via a centralised management interface. Network visibility can prove critical when helping to diagnose or provide post-mortem threat intelligence.
Is SD-WAN Cheaper?
Not necessarily, but it doesn’t need to be a drain on your time, resources and personnel either! If you’re looking to deploy SD-WAN but don’t feel you have the capacity to manage it in-house, consider using service providers to monitor it for you.
As a result of the centralised management and service provider benefits for their IT, many businesses opt for SD-WAN to increase operational efficiencies, providing optimised network and system capabilities, ultimately achieving a substantial cost saving.
Can I fully control my traffic using SD-WAN?
While you can set a series of rules or policies, based upon your specific requirements, there are often misconceptions around how much control SD-WAN offers. For example, if you’re choosing to apply prioritisation to a DIA service, this level of priority would not be applied throughout the public internet. However, if the same rules were applied to a Wide Area Network (WAN) such as an MPLS IPVPN, where circuits are dedicated and private, rules could be retained across the entirety of your estate.
Choosing the right vendor is key
SD-WAN solutions usually come equipped with built-in firewall architecture; the security technology has to work with the SD-WAN fabric to allow for secure and reliable transport of information, irrespective of its location or application type. Make sure you find the best possible solution to complement your unique business model and security considerations. The best vendors should be flexible and work closely with you to nail down and meet all your requirements.
While SD-WAN can enhance the security of the data travelling through your network, don’t solely rely on its sensitivity segmentation abilities to protect your data. Choosing the right vendor with an integrated next generation firewall is crucial and can save your organisation money and a lot of hassle later down the line.
There are numerous options for businesses looking for a private Wide Area Network. SD-WAN is one, built around newer technology that has been launched to market, but new tech is not always necessarily the right choice for every business. If you’re looking at investing in a WAN make sure you do your homework, employing a solution that is right for your business before you invest.
At M247, we specialise in building and managing high performance networks to suit businesses of every size and type. With our expertise and commitment to delivering quality bespoke solutions for every client, we’re the partner you need to help your business grow.
For more information about M247 solutions, contact us today