With the rise of remote & hybrid work models and the growth of cloud infrastructure, companies are turning to software-defined wide area networks (SD-WAN) to optimize user to application connections. Here we discuss what SD-WAN is and the top 5 SD-WAN challenges companies face when choosing an SD-WAN solution.
SD-WAN virtualized the corporate WAN, creating an overlay over various transport services, including broadband Internet, multi-layer protocol switching (MPLS) circuits, and mobile networks. SD-WAN abstracts away the details of the underlying network infrastructure and optimally routes traffic over the corporate WAN based upon application-specific policies. This enables SD-WAN to improve application performance and user experience, improving business productivity and agility while reducing IT costs.
SD-WAN can provide a variety of benefits to the organization if properly deployed and configured. Some of the biggest challenges that companies face when working with SD-WAN include the following.
SD-WAN is a networking solution designed to optimize traffic routing by moving it to the network edge. Each SD-WAN endpoint can optimally route traffic to the endpoint nearest its destination based upon application-specific priorities and rules.
By default, SD-WAN solutions do not have integrated security, making it necessary to route all traffic through a full security stack for inspection and threat prevention before allowing it to continue on to its destination. For many organizations, this forces a choice between not securing traffic on the corporate WAN or losing the benefits of SD-WAN by backhauling all traffic to the data center for inspection.
Additionally, SD-WAN solutions that integrate security commonly lack the next-generation threat prevention capabilities needed to protect against modern cyber threats. Securing the corporate WAN requires marrying the network optimization capabilities of SD-WAN with a next-generation threat prevention solution.
#2. Connecting users to applications
Adoption of cloud-based services and infrastructure has grown significantly in recent years, especially amid the pandemic. As corporate resources and IT infrastructure moves from the on-premises data center to the cloud, SD-WAN network designs must include efficiently and securely connecting users to public and private cloud applications.
This can be difficult as companies adopt distributed multi-cloud environments. Companies need secure, virtualized SD-WAN solutions that are cloud-native and have the same flexibility and scalability as the user to cloud infrastructures connections.
#3. Optimizing WAN to Internet performance
SD-WAN optimizes the performance and reliability of the corporate WAN by optimizing traffic over multiple transport media. By monitoring the health of various routes and choosing the one best suited to meet an application’s needs, SD-WAN can provide improved performance over default routing mechanisms.
However, the performance and reliability of SD-WAN are limited by the performance and reliability of the available transport media. SD-WAN solutions that optimally route traffic over the public Internet suffer from its inefficient routing and unreliable links.
To reliably meet service level agreements (SLAs), SD-WAN requires access to transport media with a certain level of performance. When possible, organizations need to design SD-WAN solutions that meet their service level requirements.
#4. Reducing costs
Cost reduction is a primary motivation for many organizations adopting SD-WAN. A major selling point of SD-WAN solutions is that it enables a company to achieve the network performance and reliability that it needs while reducing its dependence on costly multiprotocol label switching (MPLS) circuits.
However, SD-WAN’s cost savings and benefits can be difficult to quantify and compare to the capital expenditure of deploying it. SD-WAN improves network performance and increases employee productivity and access to corporate applications. While these improvements may be difficult to measure, they have a significant impact on the performance and profitability of the business.
#5. Management trade-offs
In the past, organizations needed to choose how the corporate WAN was managed. Companies could handle everything in-house, rely on a managed service provider to deploy and maintain their infrastructure, or share the responsibilities.
SD-WAN is designed to act as a virtual overlay on an organization’s network infrastructure, which provides significant benefits and introduces management challenges. SD-WAN solutions can be deployed on top of various infrastructure solutions and be composed of multiple vendors’ tools, making them complex to manage and update.
SD-WAN can dramatically improve business productivity and lower IT costs, but it is important to choose the right secure SD-WAN solution and deploy it correctly. As remote work and cloud computing become more prevalent, ensuring that the distributed corporate WAN enjoys high-performance, secure network connectivity is increasingly important.
Check Point offers a variety of different solutions designed to securely connect users to corporate resources anywhere on the corporate WAN. To learn more about selecting a secure SD-WAN solution, check out this buyer’s guide. Then, learn how to securely connect your remote workforce with a free demo of Harmony Connect, Check Point’s secure access service edge (SASE) solution.