In recent years, Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN) has emerged as a key tool for organisations trying to figure out how to support greater demand for performance, flexibility and mobility from the data centre.

While traditional WAN networks run solely on private circuits, SD-WAN solutions allow organisations to securely identify and take advantage of multiple network connections, intelligently and dynamically matching specific applications with the optimal connectivity available to individual branches.

This is especially important as organisations come to rely more heavily on Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications for mission critical functions.

At the core of a successful hybrid SD-WAN solution is an intelligent device able to detect which network it has plugged into the back of it, and to identify and securely steer applications down the most optimal part.

For instance, mission-critical applications can be given the correct priorities without having to be back-hauled to a centralised data centre.

The benefits of hybrid SD-WAN become even clearer as the NBN and 5G networks present opportunities for business to dynamically utilise consumer-grade broadband business internet as a low-cost net connectivity, especially for SaaS applications.

Hybrid SD-WAN: a complementary solution

It’s important to realise, however, that just like with any piece of disruptive technology, hybrid SD-WAN should be viewed more as an important piece of the puzzle, rather than some sort of panacea in its own right. 

It needs to be considered in the broader context of what a given organisation is looking to achieve, and what technologies are already in place.

For example, what does its traffic look like? Is it standard data (e.g. web browsing), voice, video or a mix of all? What grade of networks are being traversed (residential? Business?)? Where is the app hosted – at a single on-premise DC, IaaS or at a SaaS platform?

And where does the data need to be accessed from? The core data centre, main office, or satellite locations?

Another misconception about hybrid SD-WAN is that it’s ‘cheaper’ than other networking options.

Implementing an effective hybrid SD-WAN solution requires an investment of time and money. However, the ‘value’ of that investment will be quickly realised in more efficient processes and communications, as well as possibilities for ongoing innovation, which ultimately translate into savings and other bottom-line benefits.

Hybrid SD-WAN security is critical when connecting to the public internet at the branch/edge, presenting significant new risks versus centralised internet.

Don’t let yourself be ‘Burned’

Often, when we try to help organisations conduct a network and security audit, we’re reminded of that infamous episode of The Simpsons when Burns and Smithers descend deep into the mansion to access their top secret war-room, only to discover a broken door and the cat roaming the area.

The lesson is that as networks become larger and more complex, it’s important to identify and address every vulnerability. Hybrid SD-WAN requires each branch device to have the same levels of security as a centralised internet perimeter.

Hybrid SD-WAN technologies allow for a high-degree of flexibility and automation when it comes to managing networks, which is one of its key value propositions.

Hybrid SD-WAN makes it easier to gain proper visibility into the network around application performance and end-user experience.

Hybrid SD-WAN isn’t the answer to all your networking difficulties on its own – it’s an overlay technolog that still needs an underlay infrastrcutre to operate optuimally.

Brennan IT is one of the most experienced and respected providers of network solutions in Australia, with expert engineers ready to help design, implement and manage the right SD-WAN and wider networking solution for your organisation.

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