Achieving a Non-Disruptive
SD-WAN Adoption Strategy

By: Hein Pattyn

As remote collaboration became a necessity for organizations around the world, the technology that powers this new age of hybrid, agile working is now being adopted en masse worldwide. But while technologies such as cloud computing, automation, machine learning and the Internet of Things (IoT) tend to make a lot of headlines, it could be argued that SD-WAN is the unsung hero underpinning everything. Despite the economic slowdown caused by the pandemic, adoption of software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) continued to soar. In 2021, sales of SD-WAN solutions generated revenues of around $844 million, representing 30 percent year-on-year growth for the technology, according to research by Omdia. 

By 2025, research analysts predict revenue will more than quadruple and hit a staggering $5.5 billion. SD-WAN is going places, and it’s taking businesses with it. But what is SD-WAN, what are its advantages, and how can businesses adopt it with minimal disruption?

SD-WAN and its advantages

Traditional legacy networks used to rely on proprietary hardware like switches and routers, managed by internal firmware that required a lot of oversight and maintenance. As a result, WAN deployments were cumbersome and rigid, and were more of a hindrance than a help when it came to early cloud migration. SD-WAN uncouples WAN from its underlying physical infrastructure, instead leveraging 4G/5G and broadband connections that can be centrally orchestrated to optimally manage network traffic.

This virtualized approach gives organizations greater control over things like bandwidth, throughput, security, and stability. But more importantly for 2022, it allows businesses to control these network elements on a global scale, linking sites and remote workers from around the world in a way that prioritizes certain users, applications, or dataflows. A well-implemented SD-WAN solution prioritizes the business-critical applications regardless of the underlying infrastructure, which is a true game-changer for organizations with a global footprint.

If SD-WAN is the engine that powers today’s connectivity, the question then becomes how can businesses leverage the technology appropriately? What are the primary considerations an organization should have when migrating to SD-WAN to ensure a smooth and seamless transition?

The gap between consideration and implementation

We’ve already established why companies are transitioning to SD-WAN in droves, not least because of the technology’s ability to ensure secure connections and low latency for remote workers. But there’s a gap between deciding to get SD-WAN and actively transitioning to it. In a recent survey, more than 90 percent of decision-makers polled said they were evaluating SD-WAN and considering it as a next step, but another survey from the same time said that only 40 percent of organizations were actively planning to deploy it within the next 12 months. This gap between thinking about SD-WAN and actively pursuing it is most likely due to hesitancy based on its perceived complexity. Decisions such as choosing the right technology vendors, and the need to assess various underlay or cloud service options can make SD-WAN seem like a stressful endeavor for even the most ambitious of business leaders. But by focusing on specific objectives and asking the right questions, SD-WAN can be implemented in such a way that the only thing a hardworking team will notice are the benefits.

Legacy IT and the road to SD-WAN

Due to SD-WAN’s soaring popularity, it’s not uncommon for businesses to be inundated with offers from service providers. All will purport to be “long-term partners” and tout the many advantages of SD-WAN, but as with any booming market it can become difficult to select the best option for the present and future needs of the business.

Before knowing what to look for, it’s important to stress that the benefits a managed service provider can bring to the table are best served before an SD-WAN


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