To manage data flows in a diverse ecosystem, companies are increasingly using SD-WAN technology (for software-defined wide area network). By enabling the integration and administration of multiple network transport technologies in a centralized interface, SD-WAN facilitates service quality and security management, as well as bandwidth availability for critical enterprise applications..
In a globalized and digitized economy, the flow of digital information continues to increase, and the demand for cloud and mobility technologies increases accordingly. In this context, application performance and the fluidity of exchanges are a priority. To meet these needs, companies are looking to a heterogeneous approach to network infrastructure to help balance operating costs while maintaining performance. SD-WAN, for software-defined wide area network, then appears, for many companies, as a relevant solution to pool different types of access and intelligently manage routing on these different modes of access, all at a lower cost.
Reduce your costs
« One of the foundations of SD-WAN is to enable cost reduction on operator links that are historically very high, explains Christophe Le Reun, technical director at Wixalia. Exorbitant costs just to delegate routing management to an operator. The advantage of SD-WAN is to allow the use of consumer Internet links, which offer better speeds, tens or even hundreds of times greater, for a few tens of euros per month ». But to achieve this level of flexibility, companies need to implement technologies such as dynamic routing, priority management and overlay. All these elements require new approaches to network management automation.
“One of the foundations of SD-WAN is to enable cost reduction on operator links”
Intelligent routing management on multiple accesses
The SD-WAN has conquered the largest companies and matured to gradually establish itself as the solution of network infrastructures for the future. According to a survey conducted by IDC, in 2017, less than 10% of companies worldwide had deployed an SD-WAN solution; in 2018, this rate increased to 40%, and 95% of the companies surveyed planned to deploy an SD-WAN solution for the next two years. From a technological point of view, SD-WAN is a set of devices and applications that enable intelligent routing management over multiple accesses, creating a layer of abstraction between the transport hardware part and the logical part of flow control and management.
For companies that want to deploy SD-WAN technology, one of the priorities is to make the transition efficiently and safely, from the initial feasibility study phase, proof of concept and to large-scale implementation. However, the simplicity brought by the SD-WAN assumes that complexity and automatisms are deported into the system itself. In fact, operators and integrators need proven skills in deploying network infrastructure to meet the diverse needs of companies.
A centralized network management and security
As a transport technology via extended networks, SD-WAN offers more flexibility and scalability. It improves performance while reducing costs of bandwidth and routing. But its advantages are not limited to these technological advances in routing, one of its most appreciated capabilities by companies is that it offers centralized network management and security.
Company IT departments no longer have to worry about mastering each type of network with its specificities and standards. That’s what Jonathan Khattir, technical director at Wixalia, explains: « As an ARCEP-approved operator, we have the ability to provide comprehensive solutions, i.e. fiber, Wi-Fi and telecom network links. We are agnostic about the types of links that are used to connect businesses».
Use an operator who can provide end-to-end solutions
As far as administration is concerned, SD-WAN unifies the management and security of these different networks. Thanks to automation and centralized management, it reduces the time IT departments spend on managing and securing networks, freeing them up for higher value-added tasks for the company. « Administration interfaces allow us to manage both Wi-Fi and unified networks by SD-WAN, explains Khattir, allowing us to have control of the network from start to finish. These graphical interfaces allow us to manage all the sites for companies that have multiple sites, which greatly facilitates the operation of networks on a daily basis by IT services and gives us more responsiveness when needed. ». In a context where distributed computing is the norm, an SD-WAN network allows companies to connect to their entire ecosystem by ignoring the different types of networks, whether wired, fiber optic or radio such as Wi-Fi and 4G/5G.
Outsource the SD-WAN management and make it even easier for your IT department
Companies can make it even easier for their IT departments. The use of outsourcing to manage their SD-WAN networks is an advantageous option with multiple levels of SLA depending on their needs. « We offer two models to our customers, explains Khattir. In the managed model, we take care of the administration and operation of the service for the customer. In the second model, we act as an integrator and then transfer the skills to the customer who manages his own solution. Both are governed by service level agreements (SLA) that adapt to the customer’s needs ».
With the rise of digital transformation, agility and adoption of cloud services, MPLS networks have reached their limits. Companies are increasingly opting for SD-WAN networks to benefit from technology that virtualizes physical or air transport infrastructure, ensures quality of service and data security, while minimizing costs and administrative efforts. SD-WAN has thus become an essential brick of digital business transformation.