Enterprise networks are transforming as companies increasingly adopt new technologies, such as mobile and Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and embrace new platforms, such as cloud computing. This evolution of the enterprise network also affects how the network is used on a regular basis.
In many cases, these changes to the corporate network make achieving and maintaining consistent visibility and security across the enterprise wide area network (WAN) a challenge. New devices create new security risks, and each endpoint and platform may require its own security solutions.
Software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) solutions can help an organization to solve these challenges. Additionally, deployment of SD-WAN can enable a company to take advantage of a number of cost savings, compared to reliance on legacy network security infrastructure.
SD-WAN Provides Significant Cost Savings for the Enterprise
SD-WAN takes a new approach to security by moving network and security functionality to the network edge. Additionally, some SD-WAN solutions provide full integration of networking and security functionality. This new approach to securing the enterprise network brings a number of benefits, many of which translate to cost savings to the enterprise.
Security Integration Replaces Standalone Solutions
One advantage of some SD-WAN solutions is the ability to fully integrate an organization’s security stack into a single appliance. In addition to providing optimized traffic routing, these SD-WAN solutions also include vital security solutions, such as a next-generation firewall (NGFW) and a secure web gateway (SWG).
This integration of an organization’s networking and security infrastructure provides the opportunity for an organization to dramatically decrease capital expenditure (CapEx) and operational expenditure (OpEx). Purchasing, deploying, monitoring, and maintaining a single appliance is much less expensive than doing the same for multiple, standalone systems.
Additionally, a single SD-WAN appliance with integrated security can take advantage of optimizations between its components that are not possible for systems not designed to work together. This can provide a huge advantage to an organization’s security team since it removes the need to individually configure devices to work together and enables the network to scale to meet demand without additional appliances.
Simplified Monitoring Decreases Security Overhead
The integration of an organization’s security stack, provided by SD-WAN, simplifies the duties of an organization’s security team. Rather than monitoring and interacting with an array of dashboards, possibly provided by multiple vendors, they can work with the one provided by the SD-WAN solution.
This centralized monitoring provided by the SD-WAN solution, as well as the increased visibility it provides into the enterprise network, enables a security team to more efficiently detect and respond to attacks against the organization. This increased efficiency can help a small security team scale to meet the needs of a company, and improved threat detection and response decreases the costs of a security incident or data breach to the organization. This scalability is vital as the cybersecurity skills gap grows and skilled personnel are difficult to find.
Edge-Based Security Decreases Load on Headquarters Network
In the past, the majority of an organization’s endpoints were located on the corporate network. Since company servers and user workstations were located within the network perimeter, it was possible to deploy security at this perimeter and protect the entire enterprise.
With the rise of cloud computing and increased use of mobile devices, whether for telework, company-issued mobile phones, or bring your own device (BYOD) policies, not all of an organization’s systems reside within the network perimeter anymore. However, many organizations still use the same approach to security, forcing all traffic to flow through the perimeter defenses, regardless of its source or destination.
However, this creates significant load on the headquarters network since traffic with a source and destination outside of the internal network must pass through the company’s perimeter firewalls and Internet connection twice (inbound and outbound). This inefficiency may force companies to invest in additional security solutions to scale to meet the needs of the enterprise.
SD-WAN provides a more efficient alternative to this approach. By moving security to the network edge, whether deployed at branch locations or in the cloud, traffic no longer needs to flow through the corporate network to be monitored and secured. By removing the inefficiencies in an organization’s security architecture, SD-WAN decreases the need to replace or upgrade existing security solutions.
Optimized Routing Increases Employee Productivity
These changes in how network traffic is routed within the enterprise can also have a dramatic impact on employee productivity. Increasingly, organizations are relying on cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) applications for core business functions, and, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, work from home and other remote work has become more common.
For these teleworkers, a legacy security strategy, where traffic is backhauled to the corporate network for monitoring and security, has a significant impact on network performance and productivity. An SD-WAN solution, deployed geographically near the teleworker in the cloud, could dramatically decrease the productivity impacts of security to the remote worker. This increased productivity translates to less wasted time and money for the organization.
SD-WAN is the Future of the Enterprise WAN
As enterprise networks grow and evolve, organizations’ approaches to securing them should change as well. Traditional methods of securing the corporate WAN are inefficient in today’s networks, costing the organization valuable time and money.
SD-WAN provides an organization with an opportunity to eliminate many of the inefficiencies and challenges associated with securing the modern network. By leveraging the right SD-WAN solution, with integrated security and cloud-based deployments, a company can reap financial benefits for years to come.