Business owners must balance the need for technological upgradation with cybersecurity risks. SD-WAN offers built-in security functions that mitigate threats and attacks. Zero-touch provisioning allows a branch or remote location to get online in minutes. Centralized configuration minimizes human error and enables policies to be deployed consistently across the network.
The network security capabilities built into SD-WAN systems help create a secure gateway. They include cloud-native, centralized management and monitoring capabilities and advanced firewall functionality to protect against external threats. These capabilities also enable network segmentation, which helps limit the impact of a security incursion and prevents it from spreading into other parts of the organization. An SD-WAN can improve application performance by enabling direct Internet access for branch offices to software as a service (SaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) providers by eliminating the need for backhauling traffic over private networks. This can significantly reduce latency and improve the quality of user experience. Most SD-WANs also offer automated zero-touch provisioning, where the customer premises equipment at each site can phone home to get its initial IP addresses and configuration information. This reduces the risk of human error and improves agility by reducing the time needed to deploy new sites. Additionally, an SD-WAN’s centrally managed security policy system can respond more to environmental shifts and external threats. As a result, this approach can also lower the overall cost of networking.
In addition to offering scalability and ease of management, SD-WAN increases security by separating mission-critical systems from less important ones. This creates different risk domains that may contain and limit damage in the event of a hacking incident, even if other parts of the network are compromised. SD-WAN can also automatically offload internet access at branch offices, increasing bandwidth available for business-critical applications and decreasing costs by utilizing cheaper local internet connections. This also allows offloading WAN traffic to Points of Presence close to the Data Center, helping reduce latency. In addition to the standard SD-WAN functionality, a well-implemented solution can include a next-generation firewall, secure web gateway and cloud access security broker capabilities. This ensures the connectivity fabric is secured from edge to core, enhancing security posture. It can also provide zero-touch provisioning of new sites and remote workers. For example, suppose a restaurant needs to process credit cards at its POS terminals. In that case, IT can ship small office/home office appliances that allow them to connect over existing internet (with 3G or 5G cell connectivity as backup). This minimizes the configuration required by the IT team and allows the devices to be online in minutes.
With increasing workplace flexibility, employees use personal devices to access work systems and applications from any location with a secure Internet connection. This increases the risk of cyberattacks. With SD-WAN, businesses can connect remote areas and mobile workers to the corporate network over a wide range of Internet data services, including cellular connectivity, and deliver unified security policies. SD-WAN solutions combine WAN optimization, routing and application performance technologies with security capabilities such as firewalls, CASB, and a zero-trust model. This converged approach reduces the time and effort needed to change hardware settings in business locations while offering more control at a central level to manage and monitor network performance.
Additionally, with a cloud-delivered SD-WAN solution, organizations can deploy new equipment and services to branch offices faster by automating and orchestrating the provisioning process. This reduces labor costs and deployment times while improving IT productivity and total cost of ownership. This is particularly valuable for deploying new WAN connections, such as a PoP, to support additional remote workers. The centralized management control also supports increased capacity and improved bandwidth efficiency by leveraging multiple WAN paths based on business needs.
SD-WAN can also improve network analytics by leveraging data to evaluate various network paths and components. This helps you determine and define routing policies that prioritize applications and route them over available bandwidth. This significantly reduces costly network bottlenecks and optimizes bandwidth use. Almost all SD-WAN solutions incorporate IPSec encryption of data passing across the WAN and between sites. This drastically increases security and complies with regulatory compliance requirements for data privacy. In addition, a business-driven SD-WAN supports lifecycle orchestration and automation, including zero-touch provisioning, so network teams can deploy new applications and make policy changes in minutes rather than weeks or months. It also supports centralized configuration of WAN edge functions, such as routing, quality of service and advanced third-party security services, to minimize human error and ensure the architecture works properly in the short and long term.
Finally, SD-WAN offers predictive analytics that enables IT specialists to navigate potential performance issues and address them quickly. This speeds up resolution times and allows the organization to achieve peak performance. This can be especially critical for branch locations.
A network must adapt to business changes and evolving cyber threats. SD-WAN offers greater flexibility and scalability to meet those demands. For example, instead of using MPLS to backhaul traffic between branches and the data center, a company could use internet broadband or wireless WAN (4G, 5G) connections to get the job done – saving money. SD-WAN enables these connections to be used for critical data, voice and video and prioritized by policy for optimal performance. This increased flexibility also applies to the deployment of security devices. For example, many SD-WAN solutions include firewall capabilities that make it easier for IT to perform quick deployments at remote branches and integrate those sites with existing cloud security functions (like secure web gateways and CASBs) for consistent policy enforcement.
Moreover, some SD-WAN solutions offer automated zero-touch provisioning, wherein appliances can be drop-shipped to locations and automatically configured for connectivity over the existing internet or cellular connection. This increases scalability and reduces deployment times. It also enables more flexibility concerning device type and location, eliminating the need for additional specialized customer premises equipment at each branch office.