There's a lot of room for new Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) deployments, and many businesses are getting ready to transition. A market survey reported that 84 percent of respondents consider the technology either "important" or "critical" to automating operations and reducing costs. Businesses are concerned about keeping the transition costs down and having a sufficient business justification for them.

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Wide area networks (WAN) make multisite organizations work. They allow your remote locations to share information with your headquarters and with each other. However, traditional WAN can be expensive and difficult to maintain, especially if your locations are all in separate cities or states. One possible solution to this problem is SD-WAN.

While it does not happen often, now and then, a new technology comes along to change how things work. Its impact is felt everywhere at once, changing how enterprises conduct their business. Software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) is one such technology.

Software-defined WAN uses software tools to establish the intelligence behind your network data and digital voice routing, movement and switching. While this looks like a minor change, this virtualization achieves everything.

SD-WAN lets you use less expensive devices and systems while letting you streamline all network functions to a single location, reducing the costs and complexity of your network. You enjoy a more flexible network that easily scales to handle new additions, disasters and everything in between — for minimal additional overhead.

SD-WAN also allows your cloud and legacy systems to integrate flawlessly together to handle all your enterprise's networking needs, including different network infrastructures as needed. For instance, it can direct your critical traffic over a dedicated MPLS network while sending other data along something less expensive such as a broadband or wireless connection.

SD-WAN will make your network more efficient and dynamic. You may need some new equipment and software to use it, but the return on your investment makes it worth it with the following benefits.

Management Simplicity

Wide-area networks (WANs) based entirely on Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) links depend on dedicated connections. They can run into data-rate limitations — or cost a lot to upgrade to the necessary capacity. Applications move more data than ever before, including audio and video. They require regular attention to their configuration, and an error can break the connection or open a security hole. An SD-WAN is simpler to maintain and configure.

Straightforward Scalability

In addition, SD-WANs are easier to expand than WANs based on dedicated connections. It may be necessary to upgrade an internet connection to the necessary speed, but that's easier than upgrading or adding label edge routers (LER).

Addressing Today's Network Needs

Networks are no longer as easily delimited as they once were. Cloud services are a big part of business operations, telecommuting has grown more popular, and branch offices need to participate in the network. SD-WANs provide the configuration flexibility that businesses need in the modern world.

The Path of the Future

As the technology matures, businesses' remaining concerns about the SD-WAN will diminish. Adoption rates are all set to take off in the next few years. Researchers predict that by the end of 2019, 30 percent of enterprises will be using SD-WAN technology, compared with less than 1 percent at the beginning of 2016.

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