Cloud adoption places intense new demands on enterprise networks. Performance, security and scalable bandwidth are vital to running mission-critical applications hosted in the cloud. Network transformation is a priority on the CIO agenda to support a cloud strategy and a more distributed enterprise IT environment. The traditional wide area network (WAN) was not designed for cloud-based application performance, which is why SD-WAN now commands the attention of many CIOs. Industry research firm IDC estimates that 82 percent of enterprises will have implemented SD-WAN within the next 18 months, increasing from 38 percent in early 20171.

Below are four use cases highlighting the business benefits of SD-WAN2:

Reduced costs. Enterprises need direct and cost-effective network access to applications hosted in the cloud. SD-WAN can route non-mission-critical application flows over less expensive broadband internet directly to the cloud by leveraging application-aware intelligent routing. This results in reduced WAN operating costs while ensuring appropriate security, reliability and performance for all applications.

Improved IT agility and simplicity. Enterprises seek reduced complexity, faster service provisioning and greater flexibility. SD-WAN’s centralized provisioning of WAN connectivity at a site level, aligned to business policies, reduce the complexity of managing network equipment at the branch level and relieves the burden on local IT resources.

Strengthened data security for all applications, especially those hosted in the cloud. Traditional WAN connectivity options guarantee the reliability and security of data traffic, while broadband internet or LTE may not offer the same assurances. SD-WAN solutions leverage integrated security features such as network address translation, IPSec tunnels and firewalls to enhance data security for all applications connecting to the cloud.

Enhanced customer engagement. Improving customer experience ranks high on the list of priorities for many CIOs. SD-WAN enables improvements in user experience by ensuring applications are available and performing well.

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1 Source: U.S. Enterprise Communications Survey, IDC, March 2017.
2 The use case examples are also published in an IDC Technology Spotlight entitled “SD-WAN: A Critical Step in Transforming the Network for the Cloud Era,” April 2017.