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SD-WAN Myths and Realities for Business Transformation

July 13, 2017
By Special Guest
Tim Naramore, Chief Technology Officer, Masergy

 CIOs are seeing a rising need to revisit their networking infrastructure, as today’s geographically dispersed and data-intense organizations require their global networks to better support bandwidth-hungry apps and new types of traffic; cloud connectivity; large, remote workforces; and mobile device use.

 Ask most CIOs what they’re doing to upgrade their network infrastructure and they’ll tell you that they are considering adopting SD-WAN technology. This software-driven approach to deploying and managing cloud-centric and hybrid WAN environments is particularly attractive for its promise of transport-independence, centralized control, and enhanced performance.  

 Staggering Growth

 The market for SD-WAN is swiftly growing. This is largely driven by the increased need for network flexibility as WAN services continue to consume more of the IT budget – particularly with the increasing adoption of public cloud services and SaaS applications.

 Thirty percent of enterprises will have deployed SD-WAN by the end of 2019, up from less than 1 percent in 2015, according to Gartner. And more than 60 percent of the Open Networking User Group (ONUG) community already are in the SD-WAN deployment stage, according to a recent poll.

 The industry is also expected to generate $6 billion in revenue in 2020, up from $225 million in 2015, IDC says.

 Real ROI and Realistic Cautions

 SD-WAN is generating excitement for good reason. It provides centralized control of WAN traffic flows over multiple network paths, from MPLS to broadband architectures. Being transport-agnostic answers the demand for agile hybrid networks that can intelligently combine broadband and high performance private networks in order to meet diverse workload expectations. With SD-WAN, companies have the means to make maximum use of all of the capacity they are paying for.

 Another value SD-WAN brings to the table is application-level routing, which makes it possible to set policies to dynamically switch transports on the fly based on defined parameters. The pain of “managing application traffic based on competing needs is a continual thorn in the side of IT and the ability to automate quality of experience is compelling,” notes the Current Analysis SD-WAN H1 2016 Market Update in its discussion of near-term drivers for SD-WAN adoption.  

However, bear in mind that several considerations should be taken into account when planning an SD-WAN investment. There may be struggles ahead as a result of the overhead associated with Internet tunneling and limited routing capabilities, and upload speeds may be constrained when using SD-WAN solely over broadband Internet. SD-WAN also isn’t as plug-and-play as its embrace of policy management and zero-touch provisioning might lead you to believe, which can result in unanticipated execution risks, expenses and complications. Count among the latter handling relationships with multiple broadband providers across your company’s growing number of sites.

 A solution for the future

 In a fully managed context, SD-WAN delivers its entire suite of benefits unmarred by these concerns. Managed SD-WAN service providers will handle design, deployment, maintenance, relationship management and continuous monitoring so that the enterprise seamlessly realizes premium application performance and security, while intelligently leveraging multiple WAN connections for best price-performance.

 In networking, as in life, one size doesn’t fit all. That’s why SD-WANs that are available in various deployment models – as dedicated premise hardware, distributed virtualized software implementations, and cloud-based – and which can be combined in a hybrid network architecture and seamlessly interoperate are so well-suited to supporting business’ different needs.

 SD-WAN technology offers a way to optimize network resources immediately and also in the future. As businesses continue to transform themselves with technology, it is time for the network to rise up and fulfill its full potential as the true enabler of business.

About the Author

Tim Naramore has served as Masergy's Chief Technology Officer since March 2008. Tim is responsible for the Information Technology, Network Engineering and Software Engineering groups at Masergy. Prior to joining Masergy, Tim served as Chief Information Officer and Group Vice President of IT at McLeodUSA. He previously held Chief Information Officer positions at Broadwing Communications and Allegiance Telecom, Inc., was Director of Product Development at Netcom/ICG, and held a variety of technical positions at Frito-Lay, Inc., Boeing Computer Services and Texas Instruments. Tim holds a bachelor's of science in information systems from Pittsburg State University.

Edited by Alicia Young

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