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Where Do you Rank? IDC Lists Top Drivers for SD-WAN Adoption

sd-wan survey
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IDC concluded a worldwide survey in September 2017 to learn and report on the key factors driving SD-WAN deployments for enterprises. I’m pleased to see the alignment in the findings with what I wrote in my previous article, SD-WAN Delivers Real Business Outcomes to Cloud-first Enterprises back in September.

The results of the survey identified the following top four drivers for deploying an enterprise SD-WAN solution:

  1. Bandwidth optimization
  2. Consistent application security
  3. WAN integration
  4. Improved automation

The results corroborate that businesses are striving to achieve operational efficiencies, increase application uptime and availability to improve business productivity and enhance user experience, and protect investment in WAN infrastructure.

Let’s look at each of the four drivers in more detail.

Bandwidth Optimization – Enterprises increasingly are consuming applications from private and public clouds. At the same time, bandwidth requirements are rising combined with the increased reliance on broadband. And as most enterprises rely on two or three WAN circuits, which can be a combination of MPLS, broadband and 4G/LTE, optimizing available bandwidth based on application requirements is critical.

For example, it is much more efficient to reach SaaS applications directly via broadband services as illustrated in this lightboard video: “how to accelerate and secure SaaS apps” in contrast to backhauling SaaS traffic to the corporate data center.

As IP subnet addresses change frequently for SaaS applications, the SD-WAN solution must be able to continuously update its SaaS application address table in real time to avoid misclassifying applications and backhauling traffic instead of sending it directly to the internet. As illustrated in this lightboard video: “how First-packet iQ enables internet breakout,” the Silver Peak Unity EdgeConnect solution gathers application identifying information in real-time from sources like DNS response cache, http get request cache, RSS feeds and machine learning. That information – or internet map – is maintained in the Silver Peak cloud portal that then pushes the updates to branch offices on a daily basis to enable dynamic and granular application steering for optimal performance and enhanced security.

In cases where geographically distributed enterprises need to optimally reach SaaS applications, another technique can be used as illustrated in this lightboard video: “how to optimize SaaS reach.” As branch offices tend to be connected to a smaller number of hub sites when the internet isn’t available directly from branch offices, the Silver Peak SaaS optimization feature leverages a virtual overlay fabric to efficiently move traffic to the optimal egress point where a specific SaaS application can be reached.    

The end result is better user experience and higher efficiency in utilizing bandwidth WAN capacity.

Consistent Application Security – With the increase in distributed applications, enterprises want to make sure application policies can be easily applied with no errors to reduce security breaches. This task is complex to achieve today with legacy infrastructure especially with the possibility of moving a specific application from on premise to the cloud. In situations where traffic may need to be inspected by cloud-based security gateways or next-generation firewalls, EdgeConnect makes it simple to accomplish. The lightboard video: “how to secure applications” illustrates how EdgeConnect service chains to secure web gateways and/or next-generation firewalls for inspection to dynamically secure applications in a multi-cloud environment.

All configured centrally! The policy is created once and automatically pushed and deployed across offices minimimizing risk and accelerating deployment.

What is the end result? Higher application uptime and availability and better protection for business applications due to reduced errors in applying policies.

WAN Integration – Enterprises invested in their infrastructure over the years and would like to leverage what they can to extend investment and minimize disruption.

They’re looking for an SD-WAN solution that can leverage that investment whether it is security, WAN optimization or routers. In this lightboard video: “how to migrate from legacy routers to SD-WAN,” enterprises are able to integrate EdgeConnect into existing router-centric environment and achieve all the benefits of an SD-WAN. Furthermore, enterprises can migrate to a thin branch down the road.

In addition, WAN Optimization can be deployed on-demand on an application or branch basis as illustrated in this lightboard video: “WAN optimization on-demand with SD-WAN.” Silver Peak is the only vendor that can provide such capabilitlity and this is beneficial for enterprises in two ways:

  1. Apply WAN Optimization where it is needed to accelerate applications and save on cost.
  2. Simplify the architecture and management as WAN optimization (Silver Peak Unity Boost) built-in and can be enabled with a simple click.

The end result is enhanced user experience based on improved application performance and higher return on investment with flexible infrastructure integration.

Improved Automation – Enterprises have struggled for a long time with manual configurations and disparate platforms and management of the WAN infrastructure.

This has made IT inefficient in optimizing delivery of business value. In addition, infrastructure configuration and management was not driven based on applications and business needs. Rather, it has been based on low level network-driven configuration via a CLI that has led to long configuration cycles and potential risk of errors. In this solution overview lightboard: “Unity EdgeConnect System Overview”, the business level intent policy-driven architecture with the built-in performance enhancement and simplified service chaining with security appliances accelerates application deployment to keep up with business needs.

And as illustrated in this lightboard video: “3 signs you’re getting routered,” applying QoS across branch offices to support the move from on-premise to cloud-based applications can be very simple and fast with EdgeConnect. In a traditional router-centric model, the process is extremely painful and lengthy as the steps to define, create and apply QoS configurations are manual and must to be done on an app by app basis and per branch.

With improved automation, IT teams are able to move quickly to support business demands.

As enterprises evaluate different SD-WAN product options, a solution that addresses the top four SD-WAN drivers that were found in the IDC survey would offer the most business value, enhanced user experience and operational efficiency.