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Embracing SD-WAN for multi-cloud environments

Rentia Booysen, Westcon-Comstor Sub-Saharan Africa.
Rentia Booysen, Westcon-Comstor Sub-Saharan Africa.

The software-defined networking (SD-WAN) infrastructure market is expected to top US$5-billion by 2023 with a compound annual growth rate from 2018 of 30.8%. It has become one of the most critical segments of enterprise networking today as companies embrace this more simplified, software-driven way of managing their WANs.

In fact, the SD-WAN is critical to breaking a hardware-first mindset that is both inefficient and expensive for companies of all sizes and industry sectors to maintain. Just consider the number of connected devices available to an organisation thanks to the explosion of the Internet of Things (IOT). Decision-makers must not only contend with employees using mobile devices, but also edge computing that is growing in importance as data is captured and analysed closer to the source.

Having a team of engineers maintain these infrastructure links in the field is cumbersome and not cost-effective. Instead, SD-WAN transforms how a company manages and optimises its network for a digital environment. This is not only limited to fixed network infrastructure but also encompass any connectivity into the business such as MPLS, LTE, 4G, and the upcoming 5G.

SD-WAN, therefore, takes the principles of cloud-based management and automation and applies it to the network. Infrastructure-as-a-service has become a way of life for many local organisations as they realise they must become more agile to deal with start-ups who are more cloud-centric from the get-go.


Even though SD-WAN and the cloud have several commonalities, the most significant advantage of going this route is its ability to prove complete peace of mind for multi-cloud environments. This is thanks to orchestration that provides a critical link between the software and the network.

While SD-WAN orchestration requires a combination of an SDN controller and network virtualisation software, it empowers users to select the best services for their unique requirements. For example, it does not matter whether the business is relying on a hybrid, private, or multi-cloud approach - the SD-WAN can operate regardless.

Much of this network optimisation is done through automation and no human intervention, ensuring systems are running as they should. Whether the business is using Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google Cloud, the open standards approach of the SD-WAN ensures a smooth link between what would traditionally have been completely disparate systems.

The most effective orchestration solutions are the ones that support both the vendor developing it as well as third-party services. Customers, therefore, get access to a suite of products for designing and deploying network services from a centralised dashboard – no more spending time at a branch office in a dark and hot server room.

And by focusing on minimising user intervention and driving automation, the orchestration platform can improve operational efficiency while reducing costs.

Technology best practice

Of course, an SD-WAN requires an enterprise-class foundation to ensure it easily scales to any organisation requirement whether an SME just starting out or a multinational looking at offshore expansion. Ideally, the solution must feature cloud-grade multitenancy while leveraging strong business partnerships with service providers and systems integrators around the world.

Considering that SD-WAN was named as one of the most disruptive technologies available in the market last year, its potential is yet to be fully explored. Adoption is likely to accelerate as companies start migrating from ageing legacy solutions (and infrastructure) to the newer technology and capabilities provided by SD-WAN.

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