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SD-WAN benefits: 7 advantages for multi-site companies

Networks · May 15, 2024

The shift from traditional wide-area networks (WAN) to software-defined wide-area networks (SD-WAN) is transforming how businesses stay connected. The SD-WAN market is experiencing exponential growth as it was valued at $3.4 billion in 2021 with an anticipated increase to $13.7 billion in 2026. 

SD-WAN offers a streamlined and flexible approach to connecting branch offices, chain locations or remote employees to the company’s network. However, the benefits of SD-WAN extend far beyond connectivity. Here are the key advantages of SD-WAN for multi-site organizations, including its role as the cornerstone for secure access service edge (SASE), and how embracing this cloud-centric network architecture could modernize operational efficiency for your business.

1. Improved network performance

Improved network performance is a core benefit of SD-WAN, particularly when compared to a traditional WAN architecture. Traditional WANs funnel all traffic through a central hub or data centre, which can result in inefficiencies and complexities as businesses expand or manage multiple sites. SD-WAN, however, adopts a decentralized approach, prioritizing traffic and selecting the most efficient path from source to destination. This approach is especially advantageous as businesses increasingly rely on cloud-hosted applications, allowing for quicker connections without creating bottlenecks at centralized data centers.

In a multi-site organizational setting, SD-WAN enhances business operations by making sure vital applications receive optimal bandwidth, which helps deliver the highest quality of service (QoS) and ensuring an exceptional quality of experience (QoE) for users. For instance, leveraging the flexibility and control provided by SD-WAN allows you to mitigate latency and jitter issues in voice and video conferencing by prioritizing bandwidth allocation, while deprioritizing non-essential activities like file downloads or social media usage. A professional services company that uses conferencing with their clients, as an example, could benefit by maintaining uninterrupted connectivity during their video calls.

2. Enhanced scalability and agility

Maintaining traditional WAN architecture can be expensive and time-consuming, requiring a lot of hardware and infrastructure to be managed and maintained on-site. SD-WAN makes this process much simpler by requiring only one dedicated device at each branch location, with settings controlled remotely. This virtualized networking allows virtual versions of networking tools like routers, switches, firewalls and load balancers, which can then be set up and managed in a cloud or data center setting. SD-WAN enhances scalability and agility compared to hardware-dependent networks, facilitating faster adaptation to organizational changes, such as adding and closing locations, and accelerating digital innovation.

3. Optimized wide-area network costs

SD-WAN can help deliver significant financial benefits, with Gartner reporting up to 90% operational savings for enterprises transitioning from router-based WANs. Unlike traditional WANs reliant on costly MPLS links, SD-WANs intelligently utilize broadband, cellular or VPN connections to optimize traffic routing for efficiency and cost-effectiveness. 

By aggregating multiple network links, SD-WAN helps to ensure high-speed and reliable connections, resulting in substantial cost savings for multi-site enterprises. Its centralized management and maintenance can reduce complexity and total cost of ownership by allowing administrators to monitor usage, policy compliance and QoS, optimizing network performance efficiently.

4. Layered security

SD-WAN is able to integrate cloud-based security applications like cloud access security brokers (CASB), firewall as a service (FwaaS) and zero-trust network access (ZTNA), resulting in enhanced control over network access. It provides more secure connectivity for employees through encryption and security measures. Unlike WAN architecture, which can hinder cloud workflows with rigid traffic flows, SD-WAN optimizes connections to cloud platforms, simplifying multi-cloud environments.

For instance, SD-WAN improves user experiences with Microsoft Office 365 and Azure by dynamically adjusting packet routing for optimal performance. It also enables network segmentation, crucial for industries like retail and hospitality, ensuring compliance with specific security standards for different network segments.

Another essential benefit of SD-WAN contributing to exceptional security is network segmentation. For industries such as retail and hospitality, it allows for parallel logical networks within the physical network. For example, the first network can be a cardholder data environment (CDE) that processes payment data and is designed to comply with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). Within the same physical network but completely segregated, another virtual network can be used for public Wi-Fi, with lower priority and independent security standards deployed compared to the CDE network.

5. A virtually seamless transition to a SASE architecture

As workforces become more dispersed across wide geographic locations and cybersecurity threats intensify, more businesses are considering SASE network architecture. This technology combines networking and security services into a cloud-based, software-defined platform. It offers a more secure option to access applications and data from just about anywhere.

By integrating SD-WAN with security as a service technology, SASE addresses the needs of enterprises facing increasing cyber risks across multiple sites. SD-WAN lays the foundation for SASE, creating a more robust overlay that connects remote workers, branch offices and chain locations with corporate networks and cloud resources.

6. Simplified network management

Branch offices often manage WAN operations locally, limiting visibility into performance issues and complicating network expansion. SD-WAN simplifies WAN management with centralized capabilities for configuration, monitoring and troubleshooting. IT teams gain near-real-time visibility into network and application performance, allowing for quick issue resolution.

SD-WANs also automate traffic routing and failover, minimizing manual work. Centralized management tracks performance indicators that are crucial for building a self-healing network, including round-trip time, packet loss and bandwidth usage.

7. Enhanced connectivity integration

Offering a wider range of internet connectivity options is ideal for multi-site organizations. It can enhance resilience and redundancy, catering to diverse business requirements. By dynamically directing data through optimal paths, whether cable, DSL or fibre, SD-WAN can help deliver a faster and more reliable connection across all sites. This flexibility means businesses can get the most out of their internet, adapting easily to changes in demand. 

Building a next-generation network with SD-WAN

SD-WAN offers a transformative solution for modern networking needs across multi-site organizations. From enhancing network performance and scalability to streamlining cloud integration and bolstering security, SD-WAN can help deliver significant benefits. Organizations can centralize management, automate tasks and integrate their wireless and wireline networks more seamlessly, all while helping to ensure a more unified and efficient infrastructure. This technology is a key part in building a next-generation network as it helps businesses build greater agility, efficiency and resilience in their network infrastructure.

TELUS Business can better help ensure SD-WAN implementation delivers performance, security, scalability, agility and simplified management, resulting in greater network and operational efficiency. Connect with an IT specialist today to learn more about TELUS SD-WAN.

Authored by:
TELUS Business
TELUS Business