By Rajesh Maurya
It is no secret that organizations are turning to SD-WAN solutions to ensure fast, scalable, and flexible connectivity across the corporate network while lowering total cost of ownership (TCO) and improving user experience. Few other solutions have ever provided so many benefits in a single package. But not all SD-WAN solutions are created equal, and while the right SD-WAN can provide a number of benefits, the wrong solution can introduce new (and critical) risks to your organization.
That is why distributed enterprises must ensure that they adopt a Secure SD-WAN solution that is built with the following five requirements in mind:
- It Must Address the Needs of All Network Edges
Because SD-WAN has the ability to manage and optimize connections, accelerate cloud on-ramp, and rapidly scale to support a number of locations, many organizations have turned to SD-WAN primarily to support complex branch deployments and replace legacy branch routers. While such core functionality is exceedingly important, it is also critical that distributed enterprises select an SD-WAN solution that can be extended to address all network edges—including home offices for tele-worker use and distributed cloud environments. And to further support cloud on-ramp, an SD-WAN solution should also include virtual versions that are compatible with each of the major cloud providers.
- It Must Include Intuitive Orchestration and Zero-Touch Deployment
Adopting an SD-WAN solution with intuitive orchestration and zero-touch deployment enables organizations to ensure rapid configuration rollouts at scale. This enables them to support the high performance requirements of critical collaboration applications—including VoIP, video conferencing, and SaaS applications—for all users, anywhere.
- It Must Prioritize Business-Critical Applications and Enable a Self-Healing WAN
Traditional WAN solutions struggle to support bandwidth-heavy business-critical applications, slowing down operations and negatively impacting employees and customers alike. To ensure enterprises operate at business speeds—regardless of whether employees are working from branch offices, home offices, or other remote locations—SD-WAN must enable dynamic path selection to intelligently identify applications and determine the best route to maximize functionality of the application. Further, in the event of an outage, an SD-WAN solution needs to be able to leverage self-healing capabilities to automatically re-route traffic to the next best available link, ensuring business continuity and quality user experience.
- It Must Integrate its Security and SD-WAN Capabilities
While many SD-WAN solutions address the connectivity needs of distributed enterprises, there is one key requirement often forgotten by these solutions: security. Because of this, many solutions require costly overlay security solutions that can leave significant gaps in the network while significantly impacting IT staff overhead. Others choose to go with the minimal firewall and VPN capabilities some come with, without adequate security controls, the corporate network is left exposed to cyber threats and compliance challenges. With a Secure SD-WAN solution in place, organizations can reap all the benefits of a traditional SD-WAN solution with the added benefit of a full stack of integrated, enterprise-class security to protect the entire digital attack surface—especially as digital innovation efforts introduce new cyber risks.
- It Must Include Comprehensive Analytics and Reporting
Any quality SD-WAN solution must also provide comprehensive analytics and reporting through a single console to provide organizations with real-time insight into network and application performance as well as security states and issues. This enables IT teams to troubleshoot and resolve network and security issues quickly, reducing down time while ensuring that these twin functions are operating as a single system. Organizations should also be able to leverage these reporting dashboards to fine-tune their business and security policies to ensure the best possible user experience.
Selecting a Secure SD-WAN Solution That Addresses All of These Requirements
As workforces increasingly migrate to remote or non-traditional locations, and an explosion of new network edges presents themselves as a result of ongoing digital innovation efforts, deploying a Secure SD-WAN solution is more critical than ever before. And the best solution is one that incorporates all five of the requirements listed above in a single, integrated solution. Distributed enterprises require a solution that ensures continued connectivity, improves application performance and user experience, accelerates the cloud on-ramp, provides advanced security to protect against evolving cyber threats, and enables unified analytics and reporting for improved visibility and control.
By adopting a Secure SD-WAN solution that meets each of the above requirements, organizations will be well equipped to address not only the current needs of their networks, but also any future needs that result from digital innovation initiatives.
(The author is Regional Vice President, India & SAARC at Fortinet and the views expressed in this article are his own)