Just WAN You Thought IT Couldn’t Get Any Better…

Cisco’s Product Solution Specialist Anton Inniss looks at five ways SD-WAN can facilitate true transformation.

We all know that times have changed – and continue to change. As businesses race to adopt the use of SaaS/IaaS applications in multiple cloud environments, IT departments are starting to accept that the user application experience is poor. That is because many existing WAN networks were designed for a different era and are simply not ready for the unprecedented explosion of WAN traffic that cloud adoption brings. It is that same traffic that causes management complexity, unpredictable application performance, and data vulnerability.

The old WAN

Traditionally, a WAN’s function was to connect users at branch or campus sites to applications hosted on servers in the data centre. And typically, dedicated MPLS circuits were used to help ensure security and reliable connectivity. This no longer works in a cloud-centric world.

Introducing any organisation to the Internet and the cloud exposes major threat and compliance issues and it is extremely challenging to protect that business’s critical assets when applications are accessed by a diverse workforce, whose role access ranges from employee to partner, contractor to vendor, and of course guest. Enabling broadband in the WAN makes the security requirements even more acute, creating challenges for IT in balancing the user experience, security, and complexity.

The new WAN

It is new business models that we have to thank for driving the need for a new network model. And as a result of this drive, there is a new type of WAN to address these challenges: Software-Defined WAN (SD-WAN). SD-WAN is a new approach to network connectivity that lowers operational costs and improves resource usage for multi-site deployments – think of it as air traffic control for your networks. With this new level of functionality, network administrators can use bandwidth more efficiently and help ensure the highest level of performance for critical applications without sacrificing security or data privacy.

Now, this is easy enough to adopt for new businesses with these new business models, but how does it affect established brands wanting to transform their branch networks for the digital era?

The Cisco Meraki SD-WAN

Cisco Meraki SD-WAN is a cloud-first architecture that separates data from control planes, all whilst being managed through one central console. It provides simplicity at organisation level, ensuring maximum choice and control as well as enabling a predictable application experience. It enables businesses to quickly establish a software overlay and connect data centres, branches, campuses and co-location facilities to rapidly improve network speeds, tighten security and ensure efficiency.

And if that isn’t enough, let’s look at five key benefits to having SD-WAN:

1. Reduce cost and complexity

IT departments are under increasing pressure to do more with less. To manage more sites and more clients with limited budgets and often, relatively small teams – all without any reduction in reliability and security.

But with SD-WAN, organisations can lower costs by more than 50% by managing the entire network from one central dashboard, enabling them to quickly deploy new branches with any transport, and automate operational workflows. Cisco Meraki SD-WAN simply requires network administrators to express their intent; to tell the network what it is they need it to accomplish rather than what to do and how to do it. Such policies can be created in minutes after a user defines acceptable performance thresholds for web applications.

2. Simple and secure

With direct Internet access becoming more and more common at the branch and business-critical traffic being sent to public cloud services, network security at branch level is more crucial than ever. Cisco Meraki SD-WAN enables users to effortlessly reduce the attack surface with segmentation for IoT, partner networks, cloud and guest wireless. In addition, solutions such as Cisco Umbrella can enable cloud-based or on-premise security with a broad ecosystem for superior threat intelligence.

3. Easy flexibility

Cisco Meraki SD-WAN can be deployed easily via Cisco Meraki MX Appliances which enables users to enjoy greater choice and greater IT flexibility to any application, platform and connectivity. There is even the option to add-on network services such as wireless LAN, WAN optimisation, security, and more so that you can easily activate, change, and replace functions as your business evolves and grows.

4. More ways to save

With typical WAN costs reaching in the region of up to 10% of an organisation’s overall IT spend, any new project or undertaking which can save money, improve performance, increase reliability, and provide additional security controls is always going to be a sound investment. In some respects, as was the case with SIP trunking 10 years ago, the sheer magnitude of the opportunity SD-WAN offers is yet to be realised by many organisations.

But with Cisco Meraki SD-WAN, an all-in-one digital-ready branch solution means an automatic financial saving from the outset. There’s also the opportunity to continue to save on operating expenses by reducing WAN link costs with SD-WAN and pay-as-you-grow licensing – with solutions for branch offices of any size.

5. Upgrade to the future

The next generation of branch networking has arrived, so be network-ready for SaaS applications; simplify your WAN architecture and make it easier to deploy, manage, and operate; and balance security and application experience with direct internet access at the branch.

Cisco Meraki and Daisy can facilitate the transformation of your legacy branch connectivity to an SD-WAN solution, helping to make your network and cloud management smarter and your day-to-day that much better.

This article was written by Anton Inniss, Product Solution Specialist at Cisco.

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