To read the full article in Telecom Times, click here.

If you were to believe the news in the market lately, it would seem that pure Internet based Software Defined Wide-Area Network (SD-WAN) will be the solution to all of our problems, with some reports calling it ‘the most disruptive technology of 2019.’

In the same way, you’d also think that a 100 percent cloud-based organisation is the ideal model for most businesses.

The truth of the matter, however, is that whilst it might be in certain technology and service providers’ interests for you to believe that both of these things are true, the reality is likely to be quite different. IT is still very much hybrid and now the network is evolving to match.

Innovation and the performance gap

Traditional WANs haven’t been able to keep up with the pace of an increasingly Cloud SaaS and mobile workforce for some time; their cost vs. speed and centralised network architecture is not always ideal for the modern business IT environment and this can restrict innovation elsewhere in organisations.

Australian businesses will invest an average of AU$26 million in 2019 on transformational technologies, however, only 29 percent believe that they can cope with digital challenges. Not only that, just 20 percent of local organisations believe that they’re able to meet worker’s demand for constant connection to data and services, which is leading to more than AU$16.4 million in losses every year.

In the age of connectedness, your network up-time and performance can be the key to driving your organisation’s productivity. However, many businesses are still taking a piecemeal approach to networking, which is leading to difficulties with compatibility and causing performance issues which are directly impacting their workforces.

The most recent example of this is the rush to move to 100% cloud environments and adopt SD-WAN-only approaches to networking – the problem is, they’re not going to fix them and are causing other problems elsewhere.

Does SD-WAN live up to the hype?

The answer is both yes and no.

By 2020, the worldwide SD-WAN market for infrastructure and services will exceed AU$8.75 billion, with a 91 percent compound annual growth rate, according to IDC’s Worldwide SD-WAN Infrastructure Forecast for 2018–2022.

In reality, for all its benefits, SD-WAN only represents a fraction of the addressable issue. And as the complexity of applications and devices grows, and security becomes an increasing priority, SD-WAN over the Internet alone is simply not enough to power most organisations.

This is something organisations need to take into serious consideration, especially since SD-WAN expands a network’s attack surface, making it more vulnerable to cyber threats.

So what should organisations do?

A Hybrid Networking approach, utilising Secure Hybrid SD-WAN, is the elevated path that organisations should choose to not just improve where they are, but also to get the most out of their existing Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) networks and enhance security, control, performance, and value.

Hybrid Networking and Secure Hybrid SD-WAN

Hybrid Networking is a method of combining traditional MPLS infrastructure and internet connections with SD-WAN technology to create ‘Secure Hybrid SD-WAN’. This is an evolution of Hybrid WAN, which simply refers to using a mix of connections, such as public internet, private circuits, and cloud.

Too many people suffer from the misconception that the two are the same thing and that SD-WAN will replace MPLS – it won’t (or shouldn’t).

The difference is that SD-WAN is an overlay technology that uses software to create layers of network abstraction which can be used to run several independent, virtualised network layers over the underlying physical layer. MPLS, however, is an underlying technology that sits beneath the network infrastructure and provides connectivity.

When the two are combined, as in a Hybrid Networking model, they offer twice the benefit. MPLS allows organisations to implement affordable, high-speed connectivity into their network, combine it with multiple cost-effective internet connections, and then add SD-WAN to link them together and create one aggregate bandwidth.

Through SD-WAN technology, you can then direct individual application traffic to where it needs to go faster to increase performance, put in automated failover rules, enhance security, and get full visibility and control at each site of all network traffic. This can significantly reduce costs, cut complexity, and enhance speed across your entire network, not just the core.

Every business is different and so is their IT architecture and environment. Because of this, SD-WAN shouldn’t be applied as a blanket solution – it needs to be integrated with traditional network methods to receive its full benefit (and what it was actually designed for).

In taking a Hybrid Networking approach that utilises Secure Hybrid SD-WAN, organisations can maximise performance, minimise costs, and, in a connected world of business, help your workforce to achieve more.