Move Over WAN, SD-WAN Will Handle Cloud

The other day, I came across the perfect visual representation of the ubiquity of cloud computing in today’s businesses.

The caption reads: My report comes to the conclusion that cloud technology is no use to this company. I’ll upload it to Dropbox so you can take a look at it

Regardless of an organization’s ability to grasp the benefits of cloud computing, it is omnipresent and unavoidable. So if companies want their employees to be productive through collaboration applications ranging from CRM, marketing, Unified Communications, anything-as-a-Service and beyond, it will involve network improvements.

Cloud Service Provider Networks vs. The Office Network

If you have ever moved old furniture into a new home, you may have noticed that it looks much shabbier than it did before. In offices across the world, a technological equivalent is occurring when introducing cloud computing. There’s nothing like an upgrade to make you question everything else that compliments it.

Big cloud providers like Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services operate on state-of-the-art infrastructures, but on the other end of the cloud there’s a much different reality. Peel back the curtain of company data centers and you’ll see overextended IT teams struggling to keep up-to-date with OS releases, security updates, and scaling server and network needs. Caught between over-provisioning technology or buy-as-you-go to facilitate growth, the archaic methods keep the embedded cloud benefits (everything-as-a-Service to speed change, easy east-west scaling, etc.) out of reach.

Making Networks a Strategic Asset that Emulates Cloud

Agile, dynamic, speed/time to scale, programmable -- these are the virtues that traditional WANs lack. Instead, network designs often include multiple means of connectivity with disjointed technologies, and hardware from a variety of vendors.

Network complexity has been expanding even before the widespread reliance on cloud applications. But now when organizations need their network to be a strategic asset that supports the business and morphs to cloud-ready, they are instead dealing with:

  • Connecting branch locations securely to public internet services

  • Aligning deployment and management of cloud-connected networks with traditional methods that are unproductive, slow, and error-prone

  • Balancing performance and security

  • End-user experience and application degradation from unpredictable connections

  • Lack of visibility into performance issues, which also hampers troubleshooting

3 Ways SD-WAN Improves Cloud Application Performance

To evolve networks, organizations are turning to software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN). Where traditional WAN wasn’t architected for cloud, SD-WAN has simplified cloud migration, configuration and connectivity. SD-WAN allows IT organizations to manage business policies reflected by configuration rules, instead of per-device-management with all the risks of fat fingering, losing features, gaps in security and degrading throughput. To be exact, SD-WAN improves cloud network and application performance through the following:

1. Identifying and Prioritizing Traffic by Application, Time of Day, and Business User

Some applications need high-throughput while others depend on low-latency. SD-WAN’s policy engine can manage the needs of each application no matter the requirements. By creating a set of rules, SD-WAN devices will choose the appropriate network path for each application. This can also provide cost savings by sending lower priority traffic, or traffic less dependant on latency or speed across more cost-efficient connections that tend to have less reliable connections.

2. Steering Traffic Around Last-Mile Congestion

Since SD-WAN monitors the health (i.e., latency, packet jitter, and dropped packets) of each network link, it has enough intelligence paired with a policy engine to recognize issues and steer traffic around a congested link to a healthier connection to the cloud. For the end-user experience, this means that no matter the cloud application that they are working in, they can count on reliable performance.

3. Pairing WAN Optimization and SD-WAN

Although traffic steering can make an observable difference in the end-user experience, if all available paths are bad, that won’t be enough to save performance. By layering in WAN optimization, it can improve performance across congested links and high-latency connections. This can be particularly effective for applications that move large volumes of files across the network, like email, collaboration software, and cloud storage. WAN optimization can reduce the number of packets sent by these applications, which in turn decreases bandwidth requirements.

Say Goodbye to Wasted Bandwidth, Additional Costs, and Poor Performance

With the new consumption model of applications, it’s time to take a more efficient approach to networking. At Edgeworx Solutions, we work with leading SD-WAN vendors to deliver the most compelling advantages for organizations, including software defined networking, bandwidth optimization, reduced operational costs, and improved end-to-end performance. Ready to explore if SD-WAN is a right fit for your business and cloud environment? Read our blog: Is Your Infrastructure Ready for SD-WAN.

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