SD-WAN: Historical and Future Adoption in Enterprise IT

Corporate WANs (Wide Area Networks) are considered the backbone of Enterprise IT, where each complex business organization famously has their own home-brewed system with a unique array of hardware and software solutions integrated in the daily management of staff operations.

IT service professionals must choose from a wide variety of competing products to find solutions which optimize costs and solve internal logistical problems according to priority business requirements. Corporations struggle to scale their IT resources to match the demands of staff, clients, and customers, requiring continual upgrades of existing deployments to keep web/app servers, desktop units, operating systems, and productivity software up-to-date.

This article will review the networking standards which govern legacy corporate WAN architecture, illustrating the main differences between SDN and SD-WAN standards. The importance of Network Performance Management & Diagnostics (NPMD) software is highlighted as a distinguishing feature between competing SD-WAN solutions in order to provide a better means of analysis between services.

Corporate WAN Standards: Frame Relay, MPLS, & IPSec VPNs

Much of the history on Enterprise IT is written around the development of WAN deployments that facilitate the complex business operations of the largest companies in the world. IT service professionals must typically build unique WAN solutions that enable the daily operational requirements of 10,000 to 100,000+ employees, including customer relationships, product orders, inventory management, payroll, accounting, manufacturing, and productivity software.

Many enterprise companies rely on legacy corporate WAN installations that still use hardware/software based on a combination of Frame Relay, MPLS, & IPSec VPN standards. Some companies combine fiber, broadband, and ADSL internet connections from multiple telecom providers across departments, verticals, and dedicated software services as part of a unified WAN architecture. Over the last 10 years, corporate data center management has trended to public cloud outsourcing for cost savings over private cloud hardware, where SaaS companies now often provide customized niche software development for enterprise corporations at a lower cost than in-house production teams.

SD-WAN enters the traditional WAN marketplace based on new developments in Software Defined Networking (SDN) and hardware virtualization that helps large business organizations optimize existing IT resources more cost-efficiently, improving corporate WAN connection speeds across departments in daily operations. SD-WAN permits network administrators to enforce business security policies across all incoming and outgoing internet traffic requests with automated data-packet scanning in real-time.

SDN vs. SD-WAN: Understanding the Differences

Software Defined Networking (SDN) was developed in cloud computing to make effective use of hardware resources using virtualization and to create customized, secure routing patterns for high-traffic software applications in production. Data centers rely on load balancing software and real-time packet scanning of i/o transfer requests in order to optimize web traffic on a network.

SD-WAN software applies similar principles to the traditional corporate WAN environment. IT pros are looking for a unified, “single plane of glass” for complex wide area network administration that includes traffic routing optimization, secure encrypted connections, user authorization, VPN tunneling, web server configuration, and LAN hardware support. Enterprise IT managers saving costs through public cloud outsourcing additionally require increased security for hybrid cloud orchestration in DevOps.

SD-WAN technology is beginning to leverage Network Function Virtualization (NFV) for internal corporate IT resource management in similar ways to cloud data centers in web/mobile application hosting. The leading SD-WAN software development solutions integrate with existing corporate WAN resources, supporting the E-LAN (VPLS), IP-VPN (MPLS), E-Line, Dedicated Internet Access (DIA), CloudLink, & FlexConnect standards. Taking advantage of this new tech can improve legacy services.

NPMD: Network Performance Management and Diagnostics

By applying the recent advances in cloud data center management to the traditional corporate WAN, SD-WAN solutions utilize Network Performance Management & Diagnostics (NPMD) tools to speed up user connections across operations and maximize the efficiency of existing hardware resources.

One of the advantages of SD-WAN solutions is that they enable integrated hybrid cloud management through secure, encrypted connections with data transfer analysis in real-time. Complex business organizations can combine services from in-house IT departments with public cloud service provider hardware and SaaS platforms through a single network management control panel.

NPMD offers a means for Enterprise IT departments to optimize business operations with more facilities for network traffic analysis across departments and verticals. Real-time network optimization also includes AI/ML integration to identify malware, viruses, or malicious activity of unauthorized intruders. NPMD software detects the swiftest path through the network for each request based on existing traffic, and routes the data with fast speeds.

Use NPMD utilities to verify the features of any SD-WAN solutions provider against competitors before purchasing products in order to ensure the best ROI for customized business requirements.

SD-WAN: Platform Adoption Accelerating Across Enterprise IT

Where less than 5% of Fortune 500 companies had utilized SD-WAN technology 3 years ago, over 30% are expected to adopt it by 2020 (Gartner). A recent IDC report estimated that the total volume of SD-WAN spend in corporate IT will rise to over $8 billion USD by 2021. Start-ups and major IT companies are launching SDWaaS products that make hybrid cloud construction for complex business organizations easier to deploy and manage at lower costs than in-house operations.

The developments in SD-WAN are technically interrelated to the advancements in Software Defined Networking (SDN) and Network Function Virtualization (NFV) for corporate WAN requirements. Network Performance Management & Diagnostics (NPMD) tools provide a distinguishing factor between SD-WAN service providers and software solutions for enterprise.

SD-WAN is one of the best new technologies available for IT managers to optimize existing corporate data center resources and speed up network request transfers for staff in daily business operations. SD-WAN’s recent rapid growth is due to the technology’s compelling advantages (cost, bandwidth, etc.) over traditional WAN standards (e.g. MPLS). SD-WAN is a transformative technology which helps to fulfill the promise of the cloud for enterprise corporations and other complex business organizations.