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IDC predicted that the global software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) market will exceed $6 billion in 2020. But before your company jumps on the SD-WAN bandwagon, is it right for your business?

Growth in the SD-WAN market may be driven by a transformation that is taking place in the way companies are organized. Today’s companies are branching out, opening satellite offices across the U.S. and even around the world. They’re also embracing a multi-cloud strategy including SaaS, IaaS, and hybrid deployments.  

For organizations that manage multiple locations, SD-WAN makes the IT team’s life easier. SD-WAN delivers software-defined application routing to the WAN, enabling the network to connect a company’s many locations securely and with the option to improve resiliency through multiple transport options. 

Network Challenges for Geographically Diverse Businesses

Upward Chart LinesBusinesses that have branch offices must maintain reliable connectivity with the company headquarters and each other. Without a network that performs, productivity takes a hit. Employees have difficulty collaborating on projects and users complain of sluggish applications.

Security is also a concern. Sensitive data is being transmitted over longer distances, increasing the chance of it being intercepted or compromised by a hacker. SD-WAN offers security and segmentation via centralized policies to help combat the threat of malicious intrusions into the network. Many SD-WAN providers also offer features that monitor and protect data in transit and between router paths. 

Management and upgrades have been a challenge with legacy WAN solutions. For example, to add a new application to the network, a technician would need to create virtual routing segments, implement new access control lists, apply quality of service policies, implement intrusion detection and prevention policies, and maintain access control policies across every router at every branch office. This is typically okay with a few devices, but scaling to meet the demands of modern distributed businesses is a huge challenge.

Not the case with SD-WAN, and when working with a provider that offers it as a service, often upgrades or deployments can be done with zero touch or effort on the part of the customer.

Benefits of SD-WAN

It isn’t that SD-WAN can do more than what you’ve done with other WAN solutions, but it is the ease and efficiency that you gain from SD-WAN that will be a game-changer for how you approach the management of your WAN. If you’re in the majority, then chances are your IT staff is over-burdened and likely lacks the resources needed to truly optimize and protect your network. Even worse, many of the legacy approaches to managing a WAN require levels of expertise that can be hard to find and keep on staff.

For companies in that difficult position, SD-WAN is the answer they’ve been looking for. SD-WAN provides centralized management, application performance optimization, and network resiliency that allow organizations to get the most out of WAN. Management is simplified, eliminating the need for specialized knowledge. Many management tools are built right into the solution.

The benefits of SD-WAN add up to efficiency and a reduction in the man-hours needed to manage your WAN.

SD-WAN automates many of the tasks your IT team is burdened with, freeing it to focus on the core business. With SD-WAN, you can automate WAN edge routers, conducting network traffic according to the current network status. Load balancing ensures that network resources are reallocated according to changing workload needs.

Laying the Foundation for Effective SD-WAN

SD-WAN FirstLightCompanies that choose to work with SD-WAN need to make sure their underlying networks are high quality. SD-WAN provides many benefits for geographically dispersed companies, but it can’t mask underlying network problems.

If you use a network provider that has high latency and offers low bandwidth, then bottlenecks could develop. Eventually, these bottlenecks will lead to poor performance, user complaints, or even an outage. 

The most important thing to remember is that SD-WAN isn’t a panacea that can cure all of your problems if the issue is with connectivity itself. You still need a high-speed fiber optic network that is built for the performance your organization needs. 

Service providers that focus on building low-latency, high-capacity fiber networks can deliver the reliability and performance your business demands. Not even the best SD-WAN solution can mask a poor-quality underlying network.

Where to Find the Right SD-WAN Solution

As with any technology solution, not every provider is going to be the ideal company to partner with for SD-WAN. When choosing an SD-WAN solution, look for a company that can provide a strong underlying network.

FirstLight is ideal for companies that are looking to adopt SD-WAN. Our SD-WAN offering is supported by an extensive high-speed fiber optic network. This network has low latency and high bandwidth for optimal performance.

SD-WAN with FirstLight provides all the hardware, software, support, and upgrades your company needs.

No organization should be burdened with an outdated approach to managing its WAN. FirstLight can help you defend against threats, optimize your network, rapidly deploy services, and enable resiliency.

Reach out to one of our experts today to begin a conversation about how SD-WAN with FirstLight can bring your WAN to the next level.