With a long history of being unnoticed unless there’s a connectivity problem, the network is now recognized among line of business managers as a major driver of innovation, productivity and an improved customer experience. This is just one of the many factors driving changes to WAN architecture.
The increasing centrality of network performance to enterprise success means that IT is rethinking the ways the network could be optimized and managed to equip other new technologies. Here are the four main factors driving changes to WAN architecture:
Hybrid is here. Enterprises developing a cloud migration strategy as part of a bigger digital transformation plan have been surprised to find that a hybrid approach works best in many cases. The security of a private cloud solution combined with the speed and innovation of public cloud services, along with some specific advantages of legacy solutions leads many enterprises to determine that a hybrid cloud environment allows them to optimize performance and costs. It also demands a different network architecture than the hub-and-spoke design that supported on-premise systems.
Automation, visibility and management are priorities. Many enterprises are implementing software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) because it allows administrators to automate network optimization, as well as provide central visibility and a high level of control over network pathways. Because it is a virtual overlay, it allows for zero-touch provisioning at branch locations, reducing travel costs and time spent at branches.
Internet of Things (IoT) devices add complexity and security concerns. The increasing use of sensors on devices, including anything from blood pressure monitors to bulk oil tanks, introduces many more endpoints and increased network traffic. The security plane is broadened, because not only are there more endpoints, but they connect with the network and with numerous cloud applications. When enterprises implement a fleet of IoT devices, they often exponentially multiply the number of data transmissions flowing through the network.
The overall role of data is becoming more central. Traditionally, enterprises have relied on multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) lines to achieve reliable, high-performance connectivity. Increasing volume and centrality of data is causing MPLS costs to exceed budgets, leading enterprises to explore different network options. SD-WAN and other new WAN architectures provide a way to not only handle the data transmissions in a cost-effective solution, but also support the analytics and reporting necessary to mobilize data for business initiatives.
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