SD-WAN: A Priority Investment in the New World of Work

By Sajan Paul, Managing Director & Country Manager, India & SAARC, Juniper Networks

There has been a boom in SD-WAN deployments as enterprises around the globe seek new ways to boost network efficiency, simplify operations, and create new operating models to thrive in this new world of work. According to a report published by Research & Markets, the valuation of the global SD-WAN market is predicted to increase from USD $1.4 billion to USD $43.0 billion from 2019 to 203[1] with Asia Pacific poised to demonstrate the highest CAGR in the near future. With SD-WAN fast becoming a priority investment, it all boils down to rapidly delivering innovative business services that offer optimized user experiences (UX) at the right locations, for the right reasons, and with the right pricing to enable a unified future-ready networking fabric. This requires connecting people with SD-WAN technology with high levels of virtualization and automation across the network to improve human experiences, or in other words, creating an ‘Experience-First’ network.

However, the soaring reliance on cloud-based services and applications has magnified enterprises’ need for enhanced agility, security, and flexibility of their existing SD-WAN infrastructures to ensure unparalleled network performance, service quality, and human experience. Deploying intelligent SD-WANs is one way to step up the networking game.

Smart routing for the win

Smart routing—a prominent feature of the intelligent SD-WANs—is the unsung hero amid the abrupt shift to remote working, offering a continuum of connectivity while delivering personalised and unique user experiences across the network. This feature enables enterprises to set, monitor, and enforce service levels across their networks to streamline operations, lower switching costs, and mitigate bottlenecks while ensuring optimal user experiences. Although organisations’ primary focus rests on driving business and transforming inefficient operating models, it is important to realize that smart automated routing requires a quick and adaptive software-driven approach underpinned by human intelligence for workload optimisation.

Network automation is key

Network automation is a critical component for organisations to keep up with the growing complexity, scale, and performance requirements in today’s cloud-centric world of IT. To strive in the new world of work, companies must leverage new-age technologies such as AI, machine learning, and IoT to implement closed-loop automation to enhance the productivity, efficiency, and accuracy of their networks. In addition to streamlining workflows, autonomous network deployment allows the human workforce to focus on reimagining businesses and creating meaningful outcomes that orchestrate the future of customer experience (CX).

Adding an ‘intelligent’ touch

With sophisticated computing, faster routing, and large-scale cloud-storage becoming readily available, AI-driven SD-WAN is fast gaining popularity for its ability to transform a network from a binary utility into a powerful, self-learning, self-healing, self-securing, and self-optimising ecosystem. A recent report by IDC highlighted the spending on AI systems in the APAC region is expected to hit USD $21.4 billion by 2023 with significant investments in smart networking and automated customer services.

SD-WANs augmented with machine learning and AI efficiently combines insights and automation to deliver simplicity, reliability, and agility while eliminating congestion in this modern era of distributed network architectures and the hybrid working environment of the future.

Next-generation security

SD-WAN’s future-ready security features drive the decision-making process of adopting this technology. In an era where the workloads are increasingly processed in the cloud or through Edge computing, secure access service edge (SASE) is gradually becoming virtually ubiquitous as organisations have begun prioritising the security of their SD-WAN networks. As an indication of the acceleration of the fusion of networking and security planning, almost a third of enterprises said they are already integrating security into a network an inherent part of the SASE architecture to effectively minimise security risks.

To realize its benefit, modern cloud-centric digital businesses must understand the security implications of adding more connections to a company’s data center during a long-term and meaningful approach to remote working. A successful SASE implementation provides a company with session-based routing and superior end-to-end network visibility that enables a network to dynamically detect, identify, and eradicate vulnerabilities. With SASE in play, businesses can simply recreate the components of SD-WAN due to its functions being virtualised and simplify disaster recovery planning in case of an adverse event.

Paving the future

The convergence of Cloud, 5G, and AI is a compelling factor that drives the need to reimagine ‘Experience-First’ networks for speed, performance, and scalability while setting new standards for customer experience in today’s demanding 5G and multi-cloud environments. Organisations must translate this blend of AI-powered programmability, network virtualisation, and automation into predictive actions, maximum return on investments, and real-world performance across the lifecycle of an SDWAN. To thrive in this software-defined and virtualised computing world, enterprises will need to reconfigure and revamp their SDWANs to rapidly automate their network applications and services without compromising on performance. With a promise of secure, reliable connectivity into traditional and cloud-based applications, and safeguarding data assets, SD-WAN will continue to be an integral part of the hyper-connected future, justifiably earning it the title of ‘a priority investment’ in the new world of work.


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