SD-WAN: Pathway to Digital Transformation for Branch Office Networks

The second in a 3-part series from IDC, sponsored by Windstream, on the impact of SD-WAN

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IDV Analyze the Future In the era of digital transformation, branch office networks play an unprecedented role in delivering business value. Digital transformation refers to the disruption and evolution of business models and processes through new technologies leveraging cloud, mobility, social media and the Internet of Things. Many digital transformation initiatives are centered around cloud-based business applications. These initiatives span the length of the enterprise, enabling new operational efficiencies and customer engagement and experience opportunities. For most organizations, these apps are hosted in both the public and private cloud, adding complexity to optimizing WAN connectivity.

Enterprise IT managers often find legacy WAN architectures are simply outdated for the demands of distributed enterprises where branch offices, warehouses, storefronts and remote workers need to be seamlessly and securely connected to the headquarters office and a myriad of public and private cloud SaaS applications. IDC has found a number of benefits associated with rapidly emerging SD-WAN architectures.

Software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) is making true digital transformation possible for many distributed, multi-location organizations. By optimizing connectivity methods over the WAN while providing centralized management (including security and policy enforcement), SD-WAN can offer improved performance of SaaS applications on the network, allowing organizations to achieve better ROI on digital transformation-related cloud application initiatives, while seeing stronger performance of mission-critical day-to-day applications.

Perfectly suited to the transforming needs of branch networks

Specifically, how does SD-WAN solve connectivity challenges for branch offices and remote locations? Among the more prominent challenges addressed by SD-WAN is supporting the bandwidth required for a barrage of cloud-based applications at traditionally constrained branch and remote office locations, while also ensuring reliable and secure access. Additionally, there is the challenge of matching apps to the best connectivity methods with regard to both cost and performance. SD-WAN has the potential to best leverage internet, DSL/cable, private line, MPLS, Ethernet and 4G/LTE depending on use case needs.

Further insight into how SD-WAN optimizes application connectivity for the digital era can be found in our recent whitepaper, sponsored by Windstream, which examines how digital transformation and cloud computing have necessitated a significant reassessment of the WAN, especially for branch offices and remote workers. It explores how and why SD-WAN has arisen in response to new requirements. The paper also examines Windstream's approach to SD-WAN which uses technology from VeloCloud and combines it with Windstream's extensive portfolio of customized professional services and long-established network capabilities. This is number two in a series on SD-WAN; be sure to read our first post for additional detail on the subject.