Doing any type of business in 2022 demands higher bandwidth, faster speeds and secure connections. This demand for connectivity is growing at an exponential rate that is far exceeding the IT capabilities of organisations.

By Mandy Duncan, Aruba country manager South Africa

More than ever before, organisations need flexibility to keep pace with business change, but they are often hindered by a sluggish and rigid network infrastructure.

While newer, more prominent and exciting innovations dominate the headlines, Software Defined Networking has been the unsung hero, going unnoticed for far too long and not receiving the recognition it truly deserves. Traditional WANs, which are the backbone of global connectivity, lack the ability to cope with the demand for flexibility, scalability and even cost efficiency.

Software defined networking (SDN) applied to the wide area network (WAN) holds the key to address many challenging demands of the digital transformation era. The global software-defined networking (SDN) market, as predicted by Statista, is expected to reach R662-billion by 2027.

At the same time, 87% of enterprises have already adopted or are planning to adopt Internet based connectivity as its main WAN technology, in detriment of MPLS.

These will change the way traffic flows on the networks, requiring more flexibility and security than even before.

Empowering organisations through visibility and flexibility

Over the years, organisations have built their network infrastructure as their business grows. Branch offices often ended up with a stack of appliances in their facilities including routers, firewalls, VPN concentrators and WAN optimisation devices.

Updating a business or security policy such as moving an application to the cloud or improving quality of service often requires manually reconfiguring multiple devices. Not only does equipment sprawl require advanced networking skills to maintain and manage, but it also results in multiple maintenance contracts to administer.

SD-WAN enables organisations to move to a thin-branch model by reducing the amount of equipment in branch locations streamlining the network architecture and significantly reducing WAN management overhead.

In software, you can implement a lot of changes faster and cheaper and exert control over how that network runs. You can introduce automation, orchestrations and security in ways you could never do before. You also gain this whole new way of looking at the network through data with visibility into applications and network traffic.

Very often, organisations must manage their network operations on a local basis resulting in a lack of flexibility. The network deployment of new remote sites can be tedious and can take several weeks to accomplish. Corporate IT departments often don’t have complete network visibility to comprehensively monitor transport throughput, packet loss, latency, and jitter.

An advanced SD-WAN continuously monitors network health and automatically adapts to changing conditions to always deliver optimal application performance.

Unlocking the future opportunities

Notwithstanding, undertaking a SD-WAN deployment is not a straightforward exercise, and the starting point for a successful journey should rest in taking a clear picture of the current WAN environment as well as the current and future technological and business needs.

If you’re a single-location organisation, SD-WAN can overcome many of the barriers traditional networks face, especially organisations with multiple locations, disparate legacy systems, interoperability issues and multiple regional vendors. SD-WAN can introduce flexibility, allow individual locations to add new applications and services, and reduce operational efficiencies without having to rip and replace existing infrastructure.

With SD-WAN, remote workers receive a secure, always-on network. As a result, they have improved access to their apps, whether onsite or at home. With the added visibility and control that SD-WAN provides, a business can create an inherently more secure network. New branch offices are set up quickly and easily, and security policy changes can be automatically distributed to hundreds or thousands of branches in minutes while minimising errors.

Modernising the WAN infrastructure has become unavoidable. By embracing SD-WAN, enterprises will make it easy to adopt connectivity solutions that are programmable, scalable, automated and affordable. Organisations can benefit from SD-WAN today and ensure a smooth transition tomorrow regardless of what the next big technology is.

SD-WAN is becoming a key step in the digital transformation journey, providing flexibility, visibility and the control of your futureproof network.