Author: John Burke, CIO & Principal Research Analyst
SD-WAN is a potential game-changer for wide area networking—on the same level as server virtualization has been for the data center. SD-WAN combines the use of multiple active branch links, intelligent direction of traffic across those links, and centralized, policy-driven management of the WAN as a whole. The ability to leverage multiple lower-cost services (including Internet and 4G wireless) as well as WAN stalwarts MPLS and Carrier Ethernet holds the promise of transforming IT’s relationship to the WAN and the WAN’s relationship to the business.
Transformational potential is not enough. IT has to build a compelling business case for making the transition. The base of the case must be cost. Nemertes has developed and validated an SD-WAN cost model that enables enterprise users to build that business case: SD-WAN deployments can cut millions from large WAN service bills.
But, reducing connectivity costs is not the only avenue by which SD-WAN can drive savings. It provides for centralized, holistic management of the WAN, which reduces the amount of staff time required to provide the service. And, because it can provide transparent, automatic failover when WAN links fail, it can reduce both branch outages and WAN troubleshooting costs.
For IT and networking professionals who have not already committed to deploying SDWAN, the message is clear: now is the time to take a close look at your IT strategies, budgets, and WAN architecture and assess the need for higher bandwidth, lower rates, increased reliability, or all three. Model the cost of growing with the current architecture and compare that against at least two SD-WAN solutions. If the SD-WAN numbers show significant potential savings over time, build a business case based on them, as well as other operational savings and any business value assigned by the business lines to faster branch turn-up.
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