SD-WAN: Why you need it
Today’s businesses rely on connectivity. With the evolving transition to the cloud and trends like remote and flexible working becoming more prevalent, organisations are growing more reliant on advanced dispersed networks to accommodate them.
As a result, says Klaus Gheri, VP of Network Security at Barracuda Networks, it’s increasingly critical to ensure reliable application performance and secure connectivity at all times and at all locations.
In the past, all branches of the corporate network were connected to one central hub, most likely located at a businesses headquarters and protected by a corporate firewall. This was fine, as long as the main server was also at HQ. But now that infrastructure is increasingly located in the cloud, latency and bandwidth issues are coming in. This is why businesses need high rate internet breakouts from every location. This is where latency and bandwidth issues are coming in.
Traditional Wide Area Network (WAN) technology is simply not up to the job of supporting cloud, AI, big data and other bandwidth-hungry applications at the epicentre of digital transformation projects. It’s costly, inefficient and can leave branch offices underserved, bringing productivity down and impacting the overall customer experience.
Backhauling internet traffic to a central hub is also no longer sustainable once organisations decide to leverage software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications. These cloud-connected applications increase overall traffic while requiring very low latency to work. To manage these demands, businesses need a different architecture that enables local internet breakouts at every location for direct access to cloud services.
SD-WAN is the answer
Software-Defined Wide-Area-Networks (SD-WAN) have been hailed as the answer to these problems, providing the connectivity organisations need to support cloud applications along with the agility and cost reduction businesses are demanding.
SD-WAN significantly increases WAN network reliability, agility, and performance by using and aggregating multiple active, load-sharing connections of any type (Broadband/cable, MPLS, 3G/4G). Advanced data caching, traffic compression, and other WAN optimisation capabilities leverages the available bandwidth, and organisations can always ensure that there is, at all times, enough bandwidth for business-critical applications by making dynamic, on-the-fly adjustments of QoS and application usage policies depending on dynamic bandwidth and latency measurements.
So what’s the problem?
In a recent study of 410 IT and networking professionals in EMEA we found that businesses in EMEA are significantly increasing their investment in cloud-friendly networking technologies. The vast majority (89%) of respondents said that they’re either already using SD-WAN or at least considering it. The biggest driver for implementing SD-WAN is to improve application performance between locations.
However, there is a risk that SD-WAN won’t deliver on the potential unless businesses tackle a perceived lack of education and skill. According to our findings, EMEA lags behind the rest of the world in SD-WAN knowledge, with only three in ten (32.7%) organisations claiming to fully understand SD-WAN, compared to a global average of 41%.
The lack of internal skills and understanding was cited as the number one issue for a third of the businesses (34%) who have deployed SD-WAN. And almost two thirds (64%) believe there’s currently not enough SD-WAN training in their organisation.
Perceived security weakness is also a threat to the growth of SD-WAN, with one in four (25%) survey respondents thinking that the security of SD-WAN is worse than the combination of a corporate firewall and virtual private network (VPN). This simply isn’t true. Whilst SD-WAN does have different security needs than traditional WAN, it can be just as secure.
The introduction of a new network model requires a new type of security plugged in at each remote location in order to mitigate any internet-borne cyber risk. IT leaders looking to reap the undoubted benefits of SD-WAN whilst maximising security are faced with a mind boggling array of choice on the market. But not all security options are created equal.
Connectivity & Security – 2 sides of the coin
SD-WAN only takes care of connectivity although you always need to serve both connectivity and security – they’re like the two sides of a coin, they always go together. The more favoured security model is a single-box solution which comes with a fully fledged Cloud-Generation firewall that combines full next-generation security including Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) with advanced SD-WAN capabilities.
This solution offers advanced security, network flexibility, and ease-of-deployment to remote offices without breaking the bank. It also brings advantages in configuration, maintenance, setup and administrating the network which is done through one central management platform for both areas instead of two.
Security is a top priority when it comes to the new network infrastructure with SD-WAN. There is no proper SD-WAN without proper security. And no matter how businesses choose to deploy its infrastructure and workloads in the future, Cloud Generation Firewalls help them to make their investments future-proof.
The future of SD-WAN
Cloud is always driving new technologies. But with SD-WAN businesses won’t need to shell out for something else in a year or so, SD-WAN is a long term solution that is here to stay.
As SD-WAN technology becomes adopted more widely, education around its deployment is vital for cybersecurity progress, especially as security is at the top of many IT teams’ priority lists. It is down to the industry to make a collective effort to better educate around SD-WAN, but this will not happen overnight. Whilst everyone works on filling this knowledge gap, those who are eager to reap the benefits of this technology should turn to experts to ensure that they are getting the most out of it and in the right way.
The author of this blog is Klaus Gheri, VP of Network Security at Barracuda Networks