IT requirements of branch locations have become increasingly complicated in recent years. Many organizations are moving applications and data closer to users to reduce latency and improve performance. Organizations in retail, hospitality, education, healthcare, and other sectors are implementing advanced applications, high-end A/V technology, and sophisticated collaboration tools across their remote locations. Employees in branch offices now require access to applications, data, and communication and collaboration tools in the cloud or through remote data centers.
These changes are requiring organizations to have reliable and secure network connectivity in each of their locations. Although wide-area network (WAN) devices and security appliances are essential to fulfilling this need, they make managing the onsite environment more complex.
One way to relieve the headquarters IT of some responsibility is through Software-defined WAN (SD-WAN). SD-WAN applies software-defined principles to WAN connectivity, enabling the virtualization of WAN and security services. Organizations can collapse the “branch stack” onto a single platform, with centralized management and automated features that simplify administration and reduce costs.
SD-WAN’s zero-touch deployment enables the rapid turnup of remote sites without the need for an onsite visit. All sites can be managed from one centralized controller, allowing IT staff to add users, make configuration changes and perform routine administrative tasks remotely. Orchestration tools further reduce operational overhead by enabling the creation of automated workflows for a variety of IT tasks.
Best-in-class SD-WAN solutions integrate virtualized security functions, such as next-generation firewalls, intrusion prevention systems, secure web gateways, and more, so they can run as software rather than on separate appliances. In addition to streamlining administration, this allows IT to patch vulnerabilities more quickly and enforce policies across the environment. Security tools can share, coordinate, and correlate data for enhanced protection, and route suspicious network traffic to a cloud-based sandbox for analysis, minimizing the impact on network performance.
By converging multiple network and security services, SD-WAN reduces capital expenditures on hardware and the hardware footprint in remote locations. IT staff gain single-pane-of-glass visibility into WAN services across the extended enterprise for faster problem resolution and a better user experience.
SD-WAN can also reduce connectivity costs. Traditional WAN services, such as multiprotocol label switching (MPLS), can be very expensive. However, many organizations are hesitant to rely on broadband internet connections for their remote offices. Internet services provide best-effort connectivity, and may not provide the reliability needed for mission-critical branch operations.
Additionally, broadband internet does not provide the quality of service required for voice over IP, video conferencing, and other interactive applications. Remote users that rely heavily on collaboration tools will be frustrated with uncomprehensible voice calls and choppy video conferences.
SD-WAN enables the creation of a hybrid network that combines multiple data transport options. Software makes WAN routing decisions based upon real-time network conditions and business policies, giving priority to latency-sensitive applications such as voice and video conferencing. That makes it possible to use broadband Internet without reliability or performance problems.
SD-WAN has become increasingly popular over time, creating a lot of products in the IT market. As a leading global IT solutions provider, Rahi can help define your needs and select a solution that will reduce costs, enhance performance, and simplify IT across your multisite network.