Software-defined wide area networks, or SD-WAN, have seen a rapid take up in recent years. The rise in remote working, and working from home, has seen many businesses and organisations turn to SD-WAN to solve their biggest problem - how to reduce the cost and complexity of extending their WAN to remote workers.
What is SD-WAN?
Firstly, you might be wondering what exactly SD-WAN is, and how it could help you. Put simply, SD-WAN is an alternative to the traditional approach to networking, which uses hardware like routers and repeaters. Using software like VPNs and wireless services, SD-WAN can overlay a virtual network architecture across your infrastructure. It’s easier to update, so you don’t need to deal with outdated, legacy technologies, and can also be more secure. With SD-WAN, you can easily customise or set up new connections - users can access your network securely wherever they have an internet connection. SD-WAN offerings are still evolving, though, thanks to advances in technology, so we’ve rounded up three of the major trends to look out for in this sector, if you’re looking to level up your SD-WAN in the near future.
AI and Automation
Despite the benefits of SD-WAN, it does have some limitations. For a start, it can be difficult and time-consuming to maintain, especially if your business has ever-changing day-to-day needs. With the rise of home-working and IoT, there are more and more devices capable of connecting to your network. The cost of configuring all of these connections will only increase as time goes on - a recent report by Ericsson estimates there’ll be around 29 billion connected devices by the end of the year.
However, with artificial intelligence (AI) systems, users will be able to automate many of these processes. As these systems become more advanced through machine learning, they’ll soon be able to adapt, and react to things in real time - everything from bandwidth issues to optimising traffic. This will free up time for engineers, leaving them to tackle more important issues such as cyber security threats.
5G and WWAN
The development of WWAN, or wireless wide area networks delivered by cell towers, could give SD-WAN a boost in availability and in connectivity. WWAN could be a game changer, making it easier than ever to connect to someone or somewhere in a remote location without any internet access. There’d be no need to spend money installing a wired connection - you could just set up a connection where and when you need it. In remote locations, disasters such as flooding or earthquakes can damage cables and disrupt internet access, but with WWAN it’s easier to restore that connection by setting up a temporary tower than it is to repair a broken cable.
WWAN systems have been hampered for years - because of the limitations of 4G networks, they weren’t able to reach their full potential. Now, however, the advent of 5G telephone networks, which can offer low latency along with more bandwidth, has made it all possible and meant that WWAN can become more widely available. Advancements in 5G technology have seen the networks being rolled out across the world - there are estimated to be around 3.6 billion 5G connections by 2025 - which means that more and more people will soon be able to use WWAN.
Zero-Trust Remote Access
The pandemic saw many people make the switch to working from home, and this trend doesn’t look like it’s going away, meaning businesses have been looking for ways of making home connections even more secure for anyone connecting to their network from outside their offices. In the past, many organisations just used VPNs for remote workers, but SD-WAN can offer more enhanced security solutions.
One of these solutions, which can be integrated into your SD-WAN, is Zero-Trust Remote Access (otherwise known as ZTNA). It provides secure remote access to your network, allowing you to control who can access particular applications or parts of your network, on a one-to-one basis. Only users who’ve been verified will be able to be connected, so you can be sure that if they’re accessing your network, then they’re meant to be there. You can expect more SD-WAN providers to start including secure solutions like this, and fully integrating them into their services.
At FluidOne, we’re experts in delivering SD-WAN solutions. Our network, Platform One, is one of the most connected networks in the UK, with more than 30 carriers across connections including MPLS, ethernet, DSL, FTTP- all of which can be supported by SD-WAN. With businesses looking for ever more complex connections nowadays, we can help you find the right solution for you and your needs, whether you want to connect offices to each other, or to provide access to remote workers.
If you want to learn more, get in touch with us today.