Software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) solutions are among the most notable trends in the networking services market over recent decades. According to a whitepaper by VMware, Telstra, and GlobalData, over half of the large-scale enterprises are already leveraging SD-WAN services. Additionally, over 60 percent of the respondents are reinventing their WAN strategy keeping SD-WAN solutions in mind.

With the constant deployment of SaaS/IaaS applications, user experience has deteriorated within a short span, leading to reduced ROI and poor performance. The legacy network environments will no longer suffice as backhauling the entire traffic from branch locations to the headquarters hampers application performance and produces latency.  

Besides, the boundaries between on-site and remote working environments are blurring. This requires architectural elasticity to support hybrid workspaces irrespective of employees’ location or the business application they are accessing.

Given their ability to deliver transparency, flexibility, and intelligent control, SD-WAN services will play a more substantial role as organisations adopt the cloud for mission-critical jobs while supporting hybrid workplaces.

What is managed SD-WAN service?

SD-WAN services replace conventional branch routers with virtualised or appliance-centric software that uses intelligent routing to transmit data packets via the most secure and efficient lines possible.

Rather than routing traffic based on addresses, SD-WAN managed solutions are application-aware. They optimise the routes according to business requirements, enabling providers to manage traffic dynamically to ensure high-grade performance and security. These business requirements include the application’s priority, the expected performance, and the security protocols to be imposed.

Virtualisation dissociates the control and networking elements from the physical hardware. The control plane – network and security management – shifts to a central controller. With this unified dashboard, SD-WAN providers can configure services and manage traffic based on centralised policies. Moreover, they can centrally define and automatically program the service quality and security protocols across multiple appliances at the branch offices.

This results in predictable and more consistent application performance as well as uniform and enhanced security across the WAN. Moreover, adding applications and locations and altering policies with a software model are significantly easier than the traditional router-based model.

DIY vs. managed SD-WAN solutions

Once companies decide on SD-WANs, they must make another choice – go with a do-it-yourself (DIY) deployment or outsource to a managed service provider (MSP).

DIY offers direct network control; hence, it is a preferred approach among large enterprises having sufficient IT resources and skilled staff to manage their SD-WAN technology. However, this network self-management gradually becomes troublesome to handle, maintain, and support as the network demands changes with time.

On the flip side, SD-WAN MSPs take care of the labour-intensive elements and uncertainties, thanks to their adequate experience in designing and maintaining an optimally working SD-WAN network.

Besides, SD-WAN managed services outshine DIY in other critical ways.

Managed SD-WANs come with a simple billing process and better commercial agility. Also, they enable users to add new capacities, locations, and security services whenever necessary. On the contrary, with DIY SD-WANs, businesses have to track multiple bills and contracts globally, consuming considerable effort and time.

MSPs enable organisations to pick and mix from various additional security services, including role-based access controls, cloud-based traffic filtering, and internal network segmentation. While DIY SD-WANs deliver native support for internet protocol security (IPsec) tunnelling to encrypt network traffic; however, companies will subsequently need additional protection.

For companies with operational expense (OPEX) models, SD-WAN managed solutions are a preferred option over DIY. DIY might appear more cost-efficient as decision-makers do not need to outsource the arrangement and real-time performance monitoring. However, the approach becomes unexpectedly expensive when companies consider infrastructure installation – initially and over time.

Also Read: The growing need to adopt SD-WAN architecture for network transformation

Reasons why your business needs managed SD-WAN solutions

SD-WAN managed services add intelligence to the enterprise network and help organisations cope with the unpredictable environment yet expect the same degree of service. Virtualised networking offers the following benefits:

Optimised bandwidth usage

As applications become more content- and feature-rich and organisations increasingly migrate their on-site workloads to PaaS/IaaS and SaaS-based hosting, they need to change the existing bandwidths effectively while ensuring excellent user experience.

SD-WAN solutions automatically load-balances incoming traffic across all active connections into a website. In other words, they prioritise routing for Internet-heavy applications, including IP telephony or teleconferencing. This optimises the WAN bandwidth available to users, meaning companies can draw more value from secondary failover connections that may otherwise remain unused – thus avoiding frequent bandwidth upgrades.

Lower cost

With SD-WANs, businesses can easily add a new branch (anywhere) online faster and more cost-effectively. The solution combines the strengths of centralised network management and automation with the predictability and convenience of managed services.  

Besides, SD-WAN providers allow users to cherry-pick network elements, including carriers, access technologies, and hardware, to suit specific business needs. For instance, budget-conscious firms can go with 4G LTE and Internet broadband connectivity instead of the expensive multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) network.

Furthermore, since SD-WAN managed services utilise the existing bandwidth more effectively, enterprises do not need to pay for superfluous capacity.

Improved application performance

SD-WAN solutions decouple business applications from the primary network services with a policy-based virtual overlay. Keeping users in the know, the service providers set quality-of-service (QoS) thresholds for private and public connections without sacrificing security or performance.

Then, this overlay monitors the real-time performance statistics and picks the ideal network for all applications based on the configuration policies. If necessary, the dynamic path selection can even split an application between two routes to boost performance by delivering it quicker. 

Furthermore, the granular application analytics in managed SD-WANs improves the QoS for future capacity planning.

End-to-end security

SD-WAN solutions are secure by design, meaning they contain built-in security protocols alongside encrypted end-to-end tunnels across the entire network fabric. So, only authorised users can access and/or see the particular application on the enterprise network.

SD-WANs come with a comprehensive stack of security features, enabling businesses to fine-tune the enforcement of security protocols. For instance, users can activate virtual firewalls to tackle any cyberattack in real-time and later disable them after neutralising the threat. Moreover, they can deploy an additional security layer to restrict website access for remote workforces and guest users.

Scalability and flexibility

The software-driven approach enables administrators to rapidly provision new branch locations, and dynamically configure network and security functionalities. Additionally, with SD-WAN managed solutions, businesses can swiftly adjust to the evolving market conditions with flexible hybrid SD-WAN platforms at every site.

Businesses can scale up the network resources as they grow and spin up services on demand according to their application requirements. Further, they can control their data traffic and prioritise critical (cloud) applications, ensuring smooth operation and better client experience.

Ease of use

SD-WAN services provide centralised automated arrangement, enabling rapid implementation of changes without the need to re-engineer all inter-connected devices manually.

Moreover, the central management dashboard offers greater visibility of the bandwidth usage, traffic flows, device health, and network performance. By having a 360-degree, real-time view of their enterprise connectivity performance, organisations have total network control, and can fix issues and plan better accordingly.

Get the best SD-WAN solutions

Tata Communications has developed a customisable SD-WAN solution to support businesses in the era of Industry 4.0, where brands increasingly depend on data and tech. The cloud-native offering, IZO™ SD-WAN, securely connects all branches, data centres, people, and clouds in a single environment.

Providing fast, straightforward, and intelligent connectivity options, IZO™ SD-WAN benefits from industry-leading tech and equipment. The flexible platform promotes application creation, network agility, and easy branch implementation. Plus, organisations can safely migrate their critical data and applications into any cloud model at a suitable pace.    

Our specialists have not only in-depth networking and security knowledge but also proven dedication to offering quality-focused managed services. So, no more worrying about sluggish network and application problems with our globally-converged (over 160 countries) system.Simply your digital transformation journey today with Tata Communications’ SD-WAN managed services.

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