By Jon Bove, VP of Channel Sales, Fortinet
Looking to extend digital business functionality to WAN edge and next-gen branch offices? Fundamental table stakes include business-critical SaaS applications, such as Office 365 and SalesForce; unified communications, including VoIP and videoconferencing; and a growing number of rich media services.
But for this strategy to work effectively, organizations not only need business-critical SaaS tools available across the entire distributed network, but bandwidth-heavy and latency-sensitive solutions such as unified communications also need to be highly available.
As digital transformation continues to distribute more and more users and devices out to the WAN edge, the demand for these services is exploding, causing overall IP traffic to grow at an expected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26% through 2023.
Performance and Interconnectivity
Performance for the new WAN is a serious challenge. Moving to a public internet infrastructure requires connectivity solutions to provide a wide range of sophisticated WAN functionalities, such as load balancing across multiple connections and the remediation of noisy or unreliable WAN connections.
However, operating applications and services across the WAN at digital speeds is only half the battle. All digital transformation can be boiled down to two fundamental requirements — performance and interconnectivity — which means that these applications also need to function across a meshed infrastructure of dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of remote WAN edge locations across an extended network that includes a growing number of endpoint and IoT devices, mobile workers and private and public cloud environments.
Unfortunately, the MPLS connections that traditionally delivered reliable performance for branch applications are too rigid and static for today’s networks. They simply cannot support the agile and dynamic networking requirements of today’s digital businesses. To address this challenge, SD-WAN was developed to use advanced routing technologies across high-performance public internet connections to deliver critical applications to branch users at the WAN edge even when the underlying infrastructure is in constant flux or resources are being moved between different cloud resources.
Because of its speed and flexibility, SD-WAN is now the fastest growing networking technology segment, projected to grow at a 40.4% CAGR through 2022. In addition, according to one survey, more than 85% of companies report that they’re actively considering adopting SD-WAN to increase security and reduce sprawl.
IDC explains that as enterprise customers add software-as-a-service (SaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) services they will increasingly look to SD-WAN as a way of “intelligently automating how application traffic is delivered to branch sites, moving away from traditional hub-and-spoke WAN architectures and the backhauling of internet- and cloud-bound traffic to on-premises data centers, [and] toward the increasing use of broadband internet breakout and other network transports – 4G/LTE and 5G – at the branch for cost-effective application delivery.”
The challenge is that the while the WAN edge continues to expand, the SD-WAN market itself is very new. Because of its rapid growth, however, a growing number of vendors are actively jumping on the bandwagon with a new device or service — many of which are only partially baked. And to complicate matters further, there is little …