WAN connectivity, which was till the recent past considered a better networking option than traditional routers and switches, is also becoming costly. As CIOs scout solutions that tackle the high cost of WAN connectivity, Bjorn Engelhardt, Senior Vice President, Asia Pacific and Japan, Riverbed Technology, explain the benefits of SD-WAN, in an interview with CIOL.
SDN is now gaining prominence in India with large enterprises taking the plunge. What is the uptake for SD-WAN? What are the trends driving its uptake?
With the increasing complexity in today’s hybrid IT environments, organizations are seeking better ways to have full visibility and deliver applications across their distributed enterprise. At the same time, with the rise of SaaS applications coupled with an insatiable demand for more bandwidth fueled by applications like VOIP and video, traditional approaches to wide-area networking no longer meet the needs of business.
The emerging area of SD-WAN allows applications to be delivered securely and optimally across hybrid networks and hybrid clouds with reduced cost, increased speed/agility and streamlined management.
What kind of enterprises are looking at SD-WAN? Why?
Uptake is still in the early stages. According to a recent survey conducted by Riverbed around companies’ current and future plans to deploy SD-WAN technologies, nearly a third of respondents were exploring or deploying SD-WAN as important areas for IT innovation, but only 5 percent had fully implemented SD-WAN solutions today.
Enterprises in many industries have become increasingly distributed. Meaning, in addition to a centralized corporate headquarters, most enterprises now include branch offices, remote sites, remote workers and mobile workers.
For a distributed enterprise, network architectures are complicated, with layers of replicated and interlocking functionality. And every business faces similar challenges like making the distributed organization efficient and effective in its use of the WANs that tie the organization together. At these distributed enterprises, the leadership and IT are starting to reimagine networking with SDN and SD-WAN technologies in an effort to simplify the network and application complexity and deliver the best end-user experience – regardless of where those users are located - cost effectively.
Each tech investment is finally about ROI and TCO. And these days when any IT decision is governed by the BOARD, how can a CIO convince the CFO and that CEO that the investment into SD-WAN is legit?
SD-WAN is a new and transformational technology that offers several benefits compared with traditional, router-based WANs.
Network decision-makers can achieve cost savings, increased agility and simplification with SD-WAN. SD-WAN is particularly beneficial as organizations adjust their networks to match prevailing user and application needs, stemming from increased use of public cloud services — which are forecast to grow at over 20 percent CAGR thru 2018 (Source: IDC).
SD-WANs resolve some of the most pressing WAN problems clients currently face when building and managing hybrid WANs, and will face with growing frequency going forward, including:
• The high cost of WAN connectivity, which is exacerbated by difficulty in load sharing traffic across a mix of WAN connections
• Complex, static and manual network configurations that are not easy to adapt or scale to changing needs, or map to business-centric requirements
• The inability to provide security and visibility for WAN traffic
Can you elaborate?
In general, as SD-WAN is an emerging technology, there just isn’t data available on the percentage of cost savings that come from a shift from WAN to SD-WAN. I would suspect it will also difficult to quantify given its highly dependent on the individual use case, size of company, etc. What we can say is that in general, SD-WAN helps to reduce cost by automating the configuration of WAN edge routers, and enabling enterprises to rely more on broadband (which is less expensive) and less on private MPLS links (which are more expensive).
Has SD-WAN seen any uptake?
While the industry is still in the early stages of SD-WAN, Riverbed has been working with dozens of large multi-national enterprises who are using Riverbed SD-WAN solutions that deliver hybrid networking capabilities such as path selection (delivering applications over the most optimal network for a business), QoS, Web proxy, application intelligence and secure transport.
How did SD-WAN help these customers, what were the challenges and what were the business outcomes?
Riverbed’s SD-WAN solutions are helping to address three major IT challenges:
• The dramatic increase in network complexity, virtualization, and new, highly distributed application architectures, coupled with the reliance on applications for business, demands a radical new approach to how IT operations look at their network and application performance infrastructure.
• Applications are coming from everywhere—the cloud, SaaS, your data center or branch, and even from users adding applications never approved by corporate IT. This means performance can suffer due to the limitations of physics, as well as network complexity.
• Branch offices and the edge of the network is often where the most business gets done, yet managing that infrastructure is monstrous from a security, disaster recovery, back-up, resources and productivity perspective.
What are the two to three new trends that will drive SD-WAN for the next two to three years?
The dramatic increase in network complexity, virtualization, and new, highly distributed application architectures, coupled with the reliance on applications for business, demands a radical new approach to how IT operations look at their network and application performance infrastructure. As a result of these trends, we expect that over the next 3-5 years many organizations will deploy a SD-WAN solution as a modern replacement for traditional branch networking solutions.