If a T-shirt slogan could express our philosophy on SD-WAN adoption, it’d probably read: Keep calm and orchestrate on. Contrary to what you may think, SD-WAN doesn’t have to mean a sudden upheaval of your entire network (more on the keys to a successful deployment a little later).
Wide area networks (WAN) connect a business by providing computer networking over a large geographic area. But it can suffer from network congestions or blocks. Enter SD-WAN. It applies software-defined (SD) policies and business intent to WAN connections, resulting in a dynamic rather than a static environment.
For some, it’s the next logical step to hybrid WAN management. SD-WAN can transform your network and increase your business agility and flexibility.
Before exploring three strategies for effortless SD-WAN adoption within your organization, let’s delve into why SD-WAN is enterprise-changing.
Exactly how popular is SD-WAN, anyway?
The Network Computing article“ 4 Trends Driving Accelerated SD-WAN Adoption” refers to SD-WAN’s “meteoric rise” and it’s an apt description.
From 2017 to 2022, SD-WAN will grow at a 41% compounded annual growth rate, compared to 21% for hardware, according to a research report from the Dell’Oro Group referenced in Network World’s article“ Analysts: SD-WAN 5-year annual growth rate tops 40%.”
While the Dell’Oro Group predicts SD-WAN software revenue will reach $4.5 billion in 2022, a 2017 report from market research firm IDC predicted revenue could soar to as high as $8 billion in 2021, according to the SDxCentral article“ SD-WAN Adoption is Rapidly Increasing in the SD-WAN Market.”
“Traditional WANs were not architected for the cloud and are also poorly suited to the security requirements associated with distributed and cloud-based applications,” said Rohit Mehra, vice president, Network Infrastructure at IDC. “And, while hybrid WAN emerged to meet some of these next-generation connectivity challenges, SD-WAN builds on hybrid WAN to offer a complete solution.”
What’s driving SD-WAN’s impressive growth?
Technology solutions are responses to challenges, according to R. Scott Raynovich, founder and principal analyst at Futuriom, an independent technology research firm that focuses on connected technologies. SD-WAN’s popularity springs from business challenges that traditional WAN can’t address.
During a webinar called “Top Drivers for SD-WAN Adoption,” Raynovich shared four challenges that make SD-WAN appealing to companies. The findings come from Futuriom’s 2018 “SD-WAN Growth Outlook” report. Those drivers are:
Bandwidth demand: While end user demands go up, IT budgets remain flat. “It’s the age-old dilemma,” he said, and the solution is to get people more bandwidth for the same or less money. SD-WAN adoption can both lower costs and improve the performance of Internet connectivity.
Cloud demand: Workers increasingly rely on cloud applications rather than private servers. Raynovich likens it to taking the highway to get to the airport rather than local streets. Traditional WAN lacks the speed and security to support this new way of working but SD-WAN can, along with the ability to prioritize mission-critical apps.
Mobile workforce: Increasingly, people are working from home, remote offices, coffee shops, hotels and anywhere else they happen to be when they want to tackle work tasks. SD-WAN can provide the remote WAN configuration needed to support today’s global workforce spread across multiple time zones, branch offices and networks.
IT agility: Who’s got time to wait for a slow network? Not companies, which must agilely respond to market trends, product demands and customer requests. The frequency of IT change has sped up. The network visibility and control gained from SD-WAN results in greater IT agility.
Now, that we’ve taken a closer look at what’s driving SD-WAN adoption, let’s explore three keys to ensure a successful adoption.
Key #1 – Plan wisely for SD-WAN adoption
You’ve locked down the budget for SD-WAN, you’re excited to introduce its many capabilities to your organization and you’re eager to take a running leap into SD-WAN adoption. But slow down and take some advice from us and from Futuriom’s R. Scott Raynovich, who has been intrigued by SD-WAN since learning about it more than 15 years ago.
SD-WAN is “a quiver of tools in the cloud,” with many different acceleration techniques, he said during the webinar. Consider what you want to achieve and the required SD-WAN features for your deployment.
We agree. Insufficient planning can unexpectedly – and negatively – impact critical apps. Imagine, for example, that WAN Ops treats all apps the same and unexpected traffic spikes result in dropped Skype calls that frustrate employees, and the customers and prospects on the other end of those calls.
Smart planning involves auditing your network, taking stock of critical applications, planning how you’ll protect their performance (Hint: application intelligence) and finding a vendor that can advise you on the best path forward.
Key #2 – Take a kinder, gentler approach than “rip and replace”
When considering a move from WAN to SD-WAN, people often throw around the phrase “rip and replace.” But that sounds like a network horror flick rather than the thrilling tale of network transformation you’re likely after.
Migrating to SD-WAN with careful execution and a measured approach can result in a more successful outcome, giving you all the benefits of application visibility and control across the entire WAN. (Tip: That measured approach may mean navigating a hybrid migration pathway, an important ingredient in our secret sauce. Ask us about it!)
Key #3 – Answer this question: What has SD-WAN done for me lately?
Determining if your SD-WAN migration has been a success is critical. If you opt for a garden variety SD-WAN, you probably could demonstrate year-over-year costs savings. But we recommend dreaming bigger than that. After all, you’re part of a transformative story, remember?
Choose a SD-WAN solution with deep application insights that lets you document and report how you:
Increased revenue or prevented revenue loss by guaranteeing business transactions
Increased employee adoption of key enterprise applications
Improved productivity through proven increases in application availability
Avoided huge network upgrade costs by isolating specific performance issues and controlling for them individually rather than blasting away at the whole WAN with unnecessary BW bumps
Ready to transform your company?
It may sound like a pipe dream but there are vendors with a unique ability to demonstrate concrete improvements and cost savings over past performance. OK, maybe one vendor. (Spoiler alert: It’s us.) Our solution, Ipanema SD-WAN, is the only SD-WAN with application intelligence that can control every user session automatically and dynamically, regardless of network conditions. Request a demo today.