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Why SD-WAN Will Be in Most Branch Offices in 2019

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Opengear's Rick Stevenson

Rick Stevenson

By Rick Stevenson, Chief Research Officer, Opengear

The unusually significant scalability, resilience, cost savings, and other technical advantages delivered by SD-WAN are quickly becoming too much for enterprises to ignore — and 2019 is going to be the year that we’ll see the technology’s near-ubiquitous adoption.

Here’s what to expect in the coming year – and why – from one of the most promising network infrastructure technologies I’ve seen in this space.

1. SD-WAN will be everywhere. As enterprise demand for ever-greater bandwidth and uninterrupted connectivity continues unabated, implementing SD-WAN becomes that much easier a decision. For businesses currently connecting their far-flung branch offices and remote sites through expensive T1 or MPLS circuits, switching to SD-WAN pays for itself over a relatively short term while delivering unmistakably superior technical capabilities.

SD-WAN enables enterprises to easily leverage cloud management, dynamic reconfiguration, bandwidth scaling and introduce new services through software instead of replacing hardware. Network engineers also receive a much-improved user experience with SD-WAN. The chance to pay less for a better product won’t be lost on enterprises, one factor driving SD-WAN technology to rapidly proliferate.

2. Enterprises will be smarter about supporting their SD-WAN investment with necessary security and resilience solutions. As enterprises become more familiar with SD-WAN, the false notion that the technology can achieve total security and resilience on its own will give way to the reality that it must be supported by additional solutions. Exploits such as this year’s Cisco switch attacks and others will, unfortunately, continue to demonstrate that remote network hardware is often all too vulnerable.

As with any IT infrastructure solution, SD-WAN must be carefully managed, in line with best practices designed to maximize uptime and security. This means eliminating single points of failure, which can be accomplished by using redundant sets of SD-WAN hardware, or by implementing out-of-band network connectivity to rely on whenever WAN connectivity experiences downtime. It also means attentively deploying security updates — processes which carry a risk of downtime and further necessitate backup connectivity.

3. Demand will spur the rise of SD-WAN-as-a-service providers. Expect SD-WAN service providers to thrive in 2019 as enterprises seek out their support to provision and manage the necessary hardware and software across their remote sites and offices. This entails delivering the SD-WAN technology stack – including VPN, bandwidth aggregation and failover, WAN optimization and routing most often based on a virtualized environment – using commodity hardware and open source software. SD-WAN-as-a-service vendors offer effective solutions for enterprises that don’t want to roll their own but who are comfortable with day-to-day monitoring and management. Managed SD-WAN providers will offer a comprehensive turnkey solution that includes management as well as hardware and software, streamlining the enterprise’s role in SD-WAN to simply enabling zero-touch deployments and communicating with their sites via the cloud.

Rick Stevenson is the chief research officer at Opengear, a company that builds remote infrastructure management solutions for enterprises. He previously was CEO at SnapGear, a leading developer of network security devices, and is adjunct professor in the School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering at the University of Queensland. Follow @Opengear on Twitter.


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