How to Make the Most of Your SD-WAN Deployment

22 October 2019 | Chris Rezentes, Director, Product Management (Network), CenturyLink Asia Pacific

The rise of software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN) is driving profound transformation in the way enterprises connect to multiple branch offices and remote sites. According to IDC1, the SD-WAN market will grow at a 40.4% CAGR from 2017 to 2022, to reach US$4.5 billion.

This rising popularity stems from the technology's ability to modernize and simplify complex hybrid networks without needing an overhaul of the existing infrastructure. This is good news for many enterprises currently encumbered by networks that have become a mix of different connectivity and connection types, added on from different service providers over the years.

Digital businesses in Asia Pacific (APAC) running such hybrid infrastructures are increasingly challenged by cost, scalability and manageability issues.

Such enterprises would benefit from an SD-WAN upgrade to meet demands in performance, cost, user experience, apps, scalability, and cloud access.
 

Here are the primary methods digital businesses can realize their desired modern network with SD-WAN:

1. Rapid, cost-effective network deployment

SD-WAN is a network overlay that consolidates and optimizes network capabilities and resources with software that can enable intelligent and automated scaling, management, monitoring and control of your existing WAN. It rapidly balances overall network capabilities for maximum performance and speed across a distributed enterprise, which is a far less costly exercise compared to individually upgrading each site with new connectivity, just to get similar performance and capabilities. In fact, being network provider agnostic, SD-WAN ideally complements any Multiprotocol Label System (MPLS) or broadband transport pipes deployed in the existing WAN.

2. Improved IT productivity

By separating the control plane of your networks from hardware to software, SD-WAN enables centralized management and control of WAN resources for rapid deployment across branch offices as per business needs, without increasing the complexity of managing services, providers and pricing.

3. Hardware independence

By running WAN functions and applications independent of hardware platforms, your network can scale with greater ease to reach customers wherever they are-with centrally managed WAN edge devices in branch offices to establish secure logical connections with other branch edge devices across the physical WAN. This results in simplified and reduced workloads to free up your technicians for more critical tasks; lowering cost and complexity of maintenance, servicing and compliance; and making network costs more predictable.
Software-defined networks (SDN) help transform inflexible hardware-based networks into an intelligent, programmable platform.
Learn how to match the demands of an on-demand digital economy with adaptive networking solutions.

4. Integrated security

The rise of cloud, IoT and edge computing, coupled with an increased dependence on Internet connectivity, mandate that you build security controls into the network layer to protect your business. SD-WAN allows you to quickly implement security updates and create new policies for specific applications with centralized security management.

How digital businesses can overcome SD-WAN challenges

As adoption increases, the actual implementation of SD-WAN often presents new obstacles for the business. CenturyLink partnered with IDG Research2 to survey 100 respondents in IT-related functions across the finance, healthcare, manufacturing, and retail industries.

The survey uncovered the following top challenges:

39%

of respondents identified skills gaps that inhibit change as a challenge

38%

expressed concern over managing bandwidth needs and prioritizing network traffic

78%

cited security as a chief concern, such as WAN cybersecurity vulnerabilities

An increasing number of organizations now recognize the value of working with a third party to overcome WAN implementation challenges—with nearly two-thirds (65%) of the respondents having worked with an SD-WAN managed services provider (MSP) to support their WAN transformation and achieve the following objectives:  

1. Address knowledge gaps in managing WAN network environments

Many IT organizations lack the practical expertise and IT resources needed to modernize their networks, making in-house deployment of hybrid connectivity and SD-WAN both difficult and risky.

They turn to a technology leader with broad experience in network provisioning and security management for 24/7 tech support, to resolve issues across the enterprise WAN, and to access a comprehensive set of services readily available, including:
 

  • A broad range of turnkey network connectivity solutions and transport options
  • Software and customer premises equipment (CPE)
  • WAN design, deployment, configuration, management and ongoing support

These managed solutions come with centralized management, allowing the organizations to scale their networks more easily, and providing them with better control of deployment for secure and affordable network connections.

2. Overcome operational complexities across multiple locations

Agility and flexibility are two areas where traditional networks fall short in meeting growing digital business demands. The delivery of new applications across all connected locations can be both complicated and time-consuming-as incompatible network configurations can lead to further difficulty in troubleshooting.

Partnering with trusted MSPs has helped them accelerate their SD-WAN initiatives and alleviate implementation challenges. For example, a logistics management company, Koch Trucking, partnered CenturyLink to deploy CenturyLink Managed Hybrid SD-WAN for the upgrade of its hybrid network across more than 30 sites.

With CenturyLink assisting the integration of Koch's MPLS connectivity and broadband transport pipes, the SD-WAN upgrade quickly gained the desired efficiency and performance-with embedded security, centralized control and visibility additionally enabled across all locations. The outcomes are improved productivity at multiple sites in multiple locations, and the flexibility for Koch to expand its business with whatever connectivity options are available at a new site.

3. Protect the network against evolving threats

Optimal customer and employee experiences and competitive innovations cannot be sustained without being supported by a holistic security program. Yet, in this fast-evolving threat landscape, very few organizations have the span of in-house resources and skillsets to maintain frictionless protection and performance across their networks.

This is where the security services embedded within the SD-WAN solution come into play. 

The financial services sector, for example, faces additional pressure to be compliant with the latest regulatory and security regulations. As regulators release and update policies more frequently, banks must minimize business and security risks as they implement a network upgrade.

In many cases, the best option is to partner an established networking and cybersecurity provider with both SD-WAN capabilities and a complementary security portfolio. Such providers would also have professional services to advise on ways to bridge prevailing security gaps during the upgrading exercise.

In short, having a managed solution partner for your SD-WAN implementation brings with it the full backing of hybrid networking specialists—from certified expertise and industry best practices, to advanced networking tools and myriad resources.  

This is an important consideration because with a partner like CenturyLink, you are supported by more than 15 years of experience in managing, monitoring and accelerating the performance of business-critical application environments.

As a leader in applying best practices and proven methodologies, our network and infrastructure performance monitoring is complemented by real-time and end-user analytics, to deliver end-to-end application services as you become unhindered by inflexible legacy network solutions.

Realizing the future of SD-WAN 

The advent of SD-WAN will change the way your network responds to business needs.

When the future of your network is anchored on the versatility of a software-centric architecture, you are optimized for fast and secure connectivity from your head office to all operational sites—no matter at which physical location or on any cloud.

The availability of managed/co-managed SD-WAN solutions further reduces the risk and complexity of WAN modernization by ensuring better service quality, faster deployment, fewer errors, improved security, scale and cost-efficiency. This is a real necessity in today's age of digital transformation, because your business is only as strong as your network connections.

Are you ready to upgrade your hybrid network with SD-WAN? See how CenturyLink SD-WAN can transform your network and accelerate your application and digital business success.

Source: IDC: Worldwide SD-WAN Infrastructure Forecast, 2018–2022
Source: IDG: Modernizing the WAN to Drive Digital Business, 2018

This blog is provided for informational purposes only and may require additional research and substantiation by the end user. In addition, the information is provided "as is" without any warranty or condition of any kind, either express or implied. Use of this information is at the end user's own risk. CenturyLink does not warrant that the information will meet the end user's requirements or that the implementation or usage of this information will result in the desired outcome of the end user.

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