What's Next For SD-WAN? WAN To SD-WAN?

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As employees and customers connect to business resources in more diverse ways via VPNs, home laptops and mobile devices SD-WAN’s impact and importance as the fabric that ties it all together can’t be ignored.

SD-WAN: optimizing digital experiences in a new era

With today's SaaS and cloud-centric world marked by a snowball of associated dependencies and third parties, enterprise WANs are not only taking on a whole new look; they are also being stretched beyond recognition. According to Cisco's principal solutions analyst, Mike Hicks, the internet is now directly and exclusively carrying a significant share, if not the majority, of enterprise traffic.

The result is that businesses are migrating to a software-defined WAN (SD-WAN), which is Internet-centric. Since the beginning of the year, SD-WAN has become the hot topic of networking. A recent report indicates that the SD-WAN tools and software market will reach $4.6 billion by 2023 (€3.92 billion) as more enterprises migrate to cloud-based infrastructure for their network and IT operations.

For SD-WAN to deliver on business expectations, a new perspective on IT monitoring is needed, taking into account both network awareness and application performance.

There was WAN then, and there is WAN now

WAN networks were traditionally designed with a centralized workforce accessing centrally hosted applications in mind. A connection to the WAN network was essentially fixed after the connection was established. Since its introduction in the 90s, WAN technology has provided numerous benefits for businesses, including centralizing IT infrastructure, enhancing privacy, and increasing bandwidth.

As a result, a standard WAN network is limited in its ability to improve enterprise traffic and resource utilization, particularly in today's globalized business environment where employees and customers are often spread throughout the globe. Standard WANs are unlikely to meet the performance and productivity expectations of many businesses.

Switching from WAN to SD-WAN

The SD-WAN, designed for interconnection with cloud and externally hosted services, plays a critical role in making enterprise networks cloud-ready, more cost-efficient, and best suited for delivering optimized digital experiences to customers and employees at all locations.

A virtualized overlay network is used with SD-WAN. This creates a flexible, customizable network that can respond and adapt to the changing needs of an organization.

Because of all that agility, applications and services from third parties become more important. In a network that relies on external providers, blind spots and complexities are created. Additionally, the inherent unpredictability of the Internet and a lack of visibility into these services can cause havoc for a business' IT teams, negatively impacting the user experience, as well as its productivity.

For SD-WAN to provide the digital experience that both employees and customers demand, end-to-end visibility into the service delivery chain is critical, including any third-party dependency you may be relying on, such as the cloud and Internet networks.

SD-WAN with comprehensive visibility

Cloud apps and SaaS apps delivered via remote connections and globally dispersed offices are oriented around connectivity when it comes to SD-WAN fabric and quality of service.

With visibility into your own and non-owned networks, you can assure uninterrupted connectivity and application performance. Your SD-WAN is powered today by the cloud and the internet. Synthetic monitoring plays a crucial role in accomplishing this goal, using scripts to simulate the expected workflow that an end-user would follow when interacting with an application, regardless of its location. In conjunction with network pathing around routing visibility, modern synthetics provide a deeper appreciation of how users experience an application and the characteristics of an application's underlying network.

The SD-WAN may seem like a big leap for some businesses, but it is ultimately one of the most consequential IT changes enterprises can make as they adapt to new ways of working and serving customers.

Having end-to-end visibility and a correlated view of network and application performance for a complete picture of end-user SaaS and app performance will enable IT teams to spot and escalate any performance issues as soon as possible.