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In today’s digital era where organizations are constantly seeking flexibility and agility to respond to business demands, cloud has emerged as the go-to strategy. Many times, it is more than one cloud platform (public, private, hybrid) and even provider. In fact, choosing different cloud providers for different workloads to get best-of-breed services is increasingly becoming the norm. Multicloud environments have not only entered the enterprise IT space, but are ruling it and will define its future.

There are several reasons (from vendor neutrality, cost optimization, business agility and risk management) that have led to this phenomenal rise of the multicloud spectrum. That said, CIOs are faced with a new set of complexities and challenges associated with this new world. One major challenge is related to performance and availability concerns of traditional WAN. In this regard, CIOs are seeking answers to some key questions, including:

  • How to support data and application migration in multicloud environments with enough bandwidth
  • How to use network to connect users securely to cloud applications
  • How to ensure high availability, performance and redundancy of every important app
  • How to choose a WAN that keeps pace with business
  • How to avoid network downtime and outage and know which WAN issues to focus on

As ignoring multicloud is no longer an option, organizations are looking at addressing these issues and reaping the benefits of multicloud. This is where SD-WAN comes into the picture.

A virtual network architecture, SD-WAN enables enterprises to create reliable connections to cloud providers directly from branch offices or data centers. SD-WAN is increasingly being highlighted by analysts as a win-win technology as it not only allows organizations to make the most of multicloud strategies, but is also simple to manage and easy to deploy.

Let’s look at the key reasons why SD WAN is integral to fully capitalizing on a multicloud IT strategy:

1. Secure access to multicloud

SD-WAN, with its capabilities to identify applications and steer traffic, efficiently addresses one of the paramount risks associated with cloud—security. With SD-WAN, data can be segregated based on application or source, and policies can be set related to what type of traffic should traverse which WAN type (private MPLS vs public Internet). As they provide complete visibility into traffic sources, SD-WAN platforms can be used for blacklisting and whitelisting. SD-WAN platforms also have the capability to recognize the IP addresses of leading SaaS providers to apply required business policies. Further, SD-WAN protects data with an integrated firewall between source and destination, ensuring multi-layered security and end-to-end encryption.

2. Improved user experience

Legacy networks, based on dated security and governance protocols, prove inefficient to cope with the diversity of network setups that today’s businesses use. This hampers the user experience as latency increases and packets are lost. SD-WAN platforms have the capabilities to direct traffic across the network and choose the right path for each application, which drastically improves the quality of the experience. SD-WAN allows IT to prioritize important applications based on how much latency they can tolerate. Also, different policy profiles can be set for non-critical applications like email, office productivity applications, etc.

3. Simplified routing

With SD-WAN platform, routing is transport service agnostic. It allows for any-to-any connectivity over different transport types, whether it’s commodity internet, MPLS, LTE satellite or fixed wireless/5G. As SD-WAN provides an overlay for routing and segmentation, it determines the best path every time and is not dependent on the underlying transport. This simplifies routing traffic from branches and helps in establishing local internet breakouts.

4. Reduced costs

Specific appliances just for WAN routing are no longer required with SD-WAN as it can augment MPLS circuits, as well as incorporate low-cost internet links. Organizations can significantly reduce hardware delivery costs by choosing from deployment options such as virtual machines on commodity hardware. Thus, branch offices with any broadband connection can work with the same efficiency as an enterprise-grade WAN. This enables organizations to not only reduce hardware cost but also avoid carrier-specific lock in, which is costly, as well as inefficient.

As the multicloud reality continues to grow, the adoption of SD-WAN will continue to rocket, given its business value in managing multicloud. Managed SD-WAN can prove to be an appropriate solution for enterprises, as it helps them avoid time and resources spent on SD-WAN selection, provisioning and management on a day-to-day-basis. Using a managed service provider like NTT, which has an entire suite of SD-WAN offerings with robust SLAs that converge with an extensive suite of cloud (storage, network and compute) services, will help you bring greater robustness and sustainability to your network operations in the long run.