SD-WAN promises to move corporate networks into the cloud

The experiences from moving applications into the cloud have been positive, and now SD-WAN is about to do the same for corporate networks. Why should we be moving towards software-defined corporate networks?

The development of software-defined corporate networks (SD-WANs) is mainly guided by the practical needs of businesses. Speed, flexibility and improved fulfilment of application-specific requirements are obvious drivers.

The lack of unambiguous standards is adding some complexity to the development. Each network is implemented slightly differently. For this reason, whenever SD-WAN is discussed, it should be first clarified what the term SD-WAN means in that connection, and what is the purpose that the network is needed for.

Toni Laaksonen from DNA visited the industry’s major event SD-WAN Summit in Paris, and his observation was that the current challenges are the same all around the world. “Even in Paris, all speakers first defined what exactly they mean when they are talking about a software-defined corporate network. An SD-WAN is always different depending on who is looking at it and from which angle, and a solution that suits someone perfectly may not work for others at all.”

Of course, there is general consensus on the big picture. The purpose of the SD-WAN technology is to provide an alternative to the current WAN networks.

Network development projects are increasingly carried out based on business requirements. Companies have already previously moved applications and platforms into the cloud in an agile way, and corporate networks are now about to follow.

The cloud is king also in corporate networks

Traditionally, applications and data have been located within a company’s network. With the cloud, the situation is now the opposite. Even as much as 85% of applications may be managed by various cloud service providers in various parts of the network. Today, one of the most important tasks of a corporate network is to provide users safe connections to cloud services instead of merely connecting the various sites of the company.

The need for SD-WAN connections is even more apparent if a company also has international operations. Multinational corporations have first-hand experiences of the delivery times of networks abroad – they are long and often more expensive than in Finland. Here we can enjoy high-quality networks with a low cost level. In addition, delivery times for connections are usually weeks instead of months.

For this reason, SD-WAN solutions created elsewhere should not be directly applied as such in Finland.

SD-WAN does not always bring about new and revolutionary things. No matter which technology is used, the most important thing is to solve the challenges of business operations in the best possible way.

“Customer orientation is our priority. For example, DNA does not offer SD-WAN as a one-size-fits-all solution off the shelf, but we discuss with the customer the type of implementation that would best meet the current and future requirements,” says Toni Laaksonen.

“Solving the WAN part is not enough as such, as the LAN implementation must also be planned at the same time. The solution is often such that it hardly fulfils any SD-WAN specifications, but it solves the customer’s problems!”