Long gone are the days when offices branches of an organization had to rely on an MPLS connection in order to backhaul data, workflows and internet traffic to the core network being used in an organization. In order to compete in the advanced and highly competitive world today, the branches of an organization need to form a core part of the network being utilized than depending as an attachment of the main office through a branched WAN connection.

For corporations to survive, they need next generation branch offices that can use cloud-based computing resources and globally connected corporation applications such as video conferencing and VoIP both of which require a bandwidth that is highly scalable. In the past, these connections were provided through MPLS but due to the shifting and relocating nature of the networks being used today, cloud resources and data, those rigid connections which were being used in the past have become obsolete.

In fact, today, due to the increasing virtue nature and distribution of datacenters, the resources that are needed by workers have become highly mobile. The fact that edge computing has allowed further redistribution of data resources has led to less need of a hub that can be used to connect more than one office space. To replace the obsolete hubs, enterprises are looking forward to meshed network that can support cloud applications and platforms, smart gadgets and mobile users, IoT, edge and 5G computing, the relatively new WAN edge while at the same time blending together network edge networks.

For the SD Branch to function at optimal capacity, all that is needed is access to resources and data wherever they are being stored. Another requirement for optimal performance is crucial business applications that use on high performance reliable bandwidths to interconnect network and office users as well mobile employees.

SD-WAN relies on public internet to offer highly secure connections to different office branches with distributed resources. During this time, it ensures high performance for critical business applications that are sensitive to latency. For users, SD-WAN acts more than a replacement to getting connected. For proper performance, SD-WAN also has to integrate seamlessly with the functions of the local branches. The installed SD-Branch meshes virtualization and networking that is defined by software with cloud resources and access to the local internet as well as Wi-Fi & LAN functions being used in local devices to enable the digital movement to WAN edge.

An SD-WAN solution that is effective supports the capabilities mentioned above through reliable and flexible connectivity, extending the routing functionality and balancing the loads across the meshed VPN overlay being used by an organization. Further, it also provides advanced integrated security. This essentially means that data can be moved securely and also transactions can be carried out securely from one end to another.

As you expand the network, opportunities for getting breached and losing data as well as well information getting compromised grow with each new connection, application or device added. This is the reason why industry experts and SD-WAN professionals stress than an optimally functioning SD-WAN solution needs to not just support the requisite WAN performances but also cater for the security risks that may arise. The most critical challenge facing SD-WAN solutions for enterprises is the inability for most producers to provide a highly consistent and effective security strategy that is durable and also adaptive to the digital transformation changes taking place every day.

The lack of a proper security strategy usually leaves most corporations attempting to build a complimentary security solution using the security tools they already have in place. This type of cybersecurity can however be compromised due to the high-performance of digital networks and the fact that network resources are highly distributed. Legacy security tools struggle to keep up with increased internet speeds and the ever-changing requirements for bandwidths. They thus cannot be used to offer an effective security solution without posing serious challenges in the workplace.

The main challenge is the many vendors selling SD-WAN solutions in the market due to their marketability. As with previous markets, the vendors offering these solutions fail to provide a failproof solution. Corporations seeking to take advantage of the benefits of SD-WAN solutions need to gauge for important elements when evaluating any solution:

The Support Offered To Critical Business Applications

The most important function of an SD-WAN solution is the bandwidth of the connectivity solution it is offering. The ideal SD-WAN should recognize and support the applications used in the business, map the functions of a business to WAN resources and then automatically select the WAN connections that are most efficient for routing the business applications being handled while offering enough bandwidth and optimal performance. The solution should be able to prioritize the applications being used by a business based on how crucially they are needed. Further, it should have the ability to separate the policies for sub-applications being used by the business.

Dynamically Adaptable Policies

The ideal SD-WAN solution should also have the capability to modify the WAN policies in place based on the criticality of the applications in question and the requirements for top performance which also include security policies. The considerations mentioned above can change depending on the network configurations being used and any variation in available resources. The SD-WAN solution should therefore have the capability of providing automated multipath intelligence both for business applications and for security purposes.

The automated multipath intelligence allows an SD-WAN solution to track small WAN path information such as jitter, packet loss and latency with a view of identifying the best route to be used by traffic that is critical to the operations of a business. Should the WAN path chosen by the solution degrade to levels that are below policy thresholds, the solution should be able to make a switch to the next best link that is available without the performance of applications being changed.

The Availability Of Fully Integrated Security

SD-WAN solution typically adjust according to the available connections in order to ensure that applications have consistent performance. Due to this fact, the use of traditional static based security tools can be problematic especially when they are used as an overlay solution. SD-WAN solutions do not just require traditional methods of protection such as antimalware/antivirus, intrusion prevention (IPS) and, NGFW. They also require IPsec VPN overlay controls, high performance SSL, web filtering, the in-depth inspection of encrypted traffic data at network speeds, and, the provision of advanced threat protection (ATP) with a good example being sandboxing. In addition, the security tools mentioned above have to be fully and seamlessly integrated into the rest of the network being distributed from edge to cloud.

Centralized Management Of A Solution

Most people tend to forget that an SD-WAN solution is an integral part of the entire network. In order for the full potential of digital transformation to be realized in a business, the new network edges need to function seamlessly as one single system. This includes the establishment of a centralized viewing and control strategy that covers the entire distributed network.

Today, corporations cannot afford to use isolated network segments. This essentially means that all security and networking functions have to be handled under one roof. You can increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your SD-WAN solution by going for the solution that can be configured, monitored and managed in a central location. With such a system, the cost of management and deployment also lowers significantly. The management strategy that is used should extended to reach other parts of the network being distributed.

Top Things To Remember

On choosing digital transformation for a business, it needs to occur in such a way that the surface for getting cyberattacks does not increase in a disproportionate manner. To achieve this, security and network systems should be treated and viewed as a single and holistic solution. When seeking to expand WAN edge using SD-WAN solutions, it is important to ensure that they are operating as one whole that offers broad flexibility, high performance services and top functionality.

Further, when working to install and deploy comprehensive digital transformation, security intelligence and correlating networks should be a top consideration and priority. This is because cybercriminals are always on the prowl looking to take advantage of this type of network environment as it is being built by a business.