The IT industry is known for innovation and disruptive technologies. Let’s take a closer look at the impact SD-WAN is having.‘Disruptive technology’ (as many vendors like to label their latest offerings), is generally a good thing.
The IT industry has always been innovative, and market disruption almost always brings benefits in time. But as a global WAN manager however, making disruptive changes to a 7 or 8-figure data network takes further consideration.
- Is the new technology sufficiently robust yet?
- Are several credible global vendors implementing the technology with successful case studies proving the point?
- Have industry peers been discussing their experience with the technology and are their views positive?
Very few CTO or CIOs want to be an ‘early adopter’ for something as mission-critical as the technology powering their global WAN. MPLS has been the industry standard for nearly two decades and has proven itself across hundreds of thousands of implementations. For the most part, a technology professional could come to the conclusion that MPLS might still have a period of usefulness. But that would be without taking into account the latest networking technologies.
Newer solutions such as SD-WAN have now reached a point of robustness and early market penetration that they need to be seriously considered for any network refresh project. If not, then you could be missing out on the significant performance and functionality improvements that today’s applications are calling for.
SD-WAN can be delivered by carriers as a bundled solution (albeit with significant commercial and operational limitations), or by a specialist vendor as an overlay above your existing (or new) network infrastructure. It’s this SD-WAN vendor model where smart enterprises can gain the biggest performance benefits.
Software Defined WAN is incredibly dynamic (like cloud is to application hosting), as it allows network managers to accommodate for the changing requirements of the enterprise on-the-fly, while providing performance visibility that simply wasn’t there before. All while greatly reducing the cost and timeframes for moves, adds and changes. New sites can be activated in days rather than months and you don’t have to try and mesh MPLS from multiple vendors located around the world.
It can’t be enacted without a firstly preparing a thorough business case. SD-WAN and other new technologies might be ‘disruptive’, but without a detailed plan, they will be disruptive for all the wrong reasons.
If you’re in a position where your legacy telco contracts are heading towards a point of refresh (or your hardware layer has reached that point), it could be a good time to consider a change. But before calling vendors, it’s important to prepare a baseline comparison of your existing MPLS capabilities in your network are compared against any new alternatives.
A transformation through the use of new, disruptive network technology has to deliver a significant upside to your enterprise (commercially, technically and operationally). Tick those boxes first and it could well be worth the exercise.