In a world where businesses are becoming more and more connected through the cloud, the importance of optimizing and securing your network is paramount.  There are technology solutions that can help manage these challenges, including “software-defined” networking for a wide area network, or SD-WAN. Your organization likely has several software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications used by employees, and an SD-WAN gives your IT administrators robust capabilities for the connections and controls used to access these applications.

For today’s article, we are going to discuss the basics of how an SD-WAN works, how you can find a provider, and some of the benefits and best practices of this technology.  This article is part of a larger set of education we are providing our customers and the IT community for best practices in connectivity and applications.  If this is your first time visiting our website, please be sure to checkout our previous articles on Cyber Security and our free white paper on Virtual Collaboration Tools.

What Is An SD-WAN?

Traditionally, an organization would create a wide area network through hardware devices that route and direct traffic securely.  This network architecture is setup to be physically controlled with routers and was a standard for larger organizations that needed to scale network availability and capacity.  With the shift towards the cloud, on-premises network architecture had to change to accommodate cloud-based SaaS applications.  In essence, an SD-WAN sits in the center of all your cloud applications and acts as a control mechanism for authentication, access, and routing of data.

How An SD-WAN Works

When you setup an SD-WAN, it is configured to communicate with all the applications your organization is using. An SD-WAN can support connections to traditional on-premises applications and cloud programs.  It will help route traffic in an optimal manner and provide a broader umbrella for security and monitoring traffic.  From a logical standpoint, you can almost think about an SD-WAN as a broader software that connects the various WAN’s across your organization into a single ecosystem.

One of the big advantages of this software approach is optimizing secure connections.  SD-WANs will support all security traffic protocols for encryption, and also protect the endpoints of your network.  You can think about these capabilities similar to a VPN and firewall, but automatically applied across all network connections both cloud and physical.

How does your network perform when you are on the road?

How To Find An SD-WAN Provider

One of the challenges with SD-WAN implementation is finding the right provider for your organization.  The selection process can become confusing because many different technology companies offer an SD-WAN as part of broader IT offerings.  The larger players in the networking business such as Cisco, Barracuda and Fortinet all have offerings for SD-WAN software and supported hardware.  Smaller niche players are also available that offer the software in combination with specialized services to help implement the technology.

The biggest key to selecting your SD-WAN provider is considering the support and implementation needs for your organization.  If you do not have a strong network team in-house or partner, you should be selective in finding a provider that can offer support services for the implementation. 

How ECS Can Help

At Evans Consulting Service we specialize in network architecture and optimization.  Our team is highly versed in the nuances of SD-WAN implementation and can help your organization through the process of finding, selecting, and implementing these solutions.  If you would like to learn more about our services, please request a free consultation on our website to speak with a network architecture specialist on our team.

About the Author

I created Evans Consulting Services after running another start up business with partners. We ran the business like a corporation. Over the years, I have learned that entrepreneurship was a unique challenge. I learned that each member of a small organization is extremely important and must carry their own weight, earn their compensation and produce results. The negative impact of sub-par performance is devastating and cannot be sustained by an emerging business.

I’ve been in business as an entrepreneur for 22 years. Through ECS, we have continually demonstrated the ability to successfully partner with a variety of entities. ECS is a team player. For example, ECS entered a joint venture with Albert Kahn Associates, a 100+ old architectural firm, on a million-dollar project to design and install the cabling infrastructure for Motor City Casino Hotel. We also have maintained a managed contract customer relationship with KIRCO Management Services LLC, a multi million-dollar development, property management, and construction company that has grown nationally over the last 19 years. KIRCO is our flagship, cornerstone customer since 2001. In the future, our relationship will continue to strengthen as both companies grow.

Tony Evans

President and Founder

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