The Top 4 SD-WAN Trends in 2022

Image of a keyboard with a finger pressing on an green SD-WAN key.
What trends will SD-WAN bring?

The coronavirus pandemic put the brakes on many in-office IT infrastructure plans, with the majority of workers opting to work from home. As we try to navigate a post-pandemic world, remote and hybrid-work models are quickly becoming the preferred option for many businesses, and this is where SD-WANs are coming in. SD-WANs are able to deal with a high demand of distributed networks and workers being spread out over vast geographical areas. As with any resurgence in the tech world, the rise of SD-WANs brings forward new trends of its own, so what does this mean for the future of the digital workplace? 

This article explores the top 4 trends that come with SD-WANs and aims to give you a clearer understanding of how they could be beneficial to your business. 

As SD-WANs become a hot topic in the network field post-pandemic, we have seen some interesting trends coming to light. Here are the top 4 SD-WAN trends in 2022

1. Secure Remote Access with SD-WAN

The pandemic and the move to remote/hybrid work had led SD-WAN producers to develop their products to better incorporate Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) features. The pandemic brought a wave of business to SD-WAN providers as remote workers needed to have SD-WAN endpoints installed in their homes–either as physical appliances or software clients. 

Other secure remote access providers have taken a different route and offer options in a cloud-like model. This takes the strain off of enterprises when it comes to managing several VPN appliances. They no longer require vast data centers just to enable secure remote access services. Now, businesses can simply buy secure connectivity as a service (SaaS), rather than having to revamp their entire workflow

Users are also enabled to connect to the nearest point of presence, allowing communication to the data center PoP or cloud provider PoP. The communication can occur across a secured, private middle man.

What’s the disadvantage? Each SD-WAN provider has different processes and procedures around device prioritization, security, etc. This means you’ll have some learning to do before your network is fully operational. 

Why Does This Matter for Your Business? 

With the shift from working in the office to working almost anywhere, having the entire team connected to a secure, private network is absolutely essential. Knowing that your employees can work from home as securely as they could in the office opens the opportunity for more flexible working arrangements that better suit the needs of the individuals in your team. Remember- happy employees deliver the best work!

We can predict 2 trends that will become more visible in the coming year: 

1. Combining SD-WAN and secure remote access technology 

2. Replacing SD-WAN with secure remote access 

This leads us to our next trend: SD-WAN as a service

2. SD-WAN as a Service 

You might have heard SD-WANs as a service referred to as a Network as a Service or NaaS. More and more products are shifting towards becoming services, so why is this exciting? Services mean the maintenance aspect is entirely out of your hands. Less time spent managing networks means more time doing the work you really want (and need) to be doing. This, however, doesn’t mean it’s a flawless option. When you adopt SD-WANs as a service, you’re left with limited configuration options. 

Some SD-WAN-as-a-service capabilities that NaaS vendors include are redundancy and connectivity choices, policy-driven route optimization, and traffic prioritization. Providers already include several SD-WAN-style management, optimization, and redundancy features in their architectures. 

With the shift to anything-and-everything-as-a-service, you should start to see the demand for managed SD-WANs drive broader adoption of NaaS offerings that are now offering SD-WAN as a service.

Why Does This Matter for Your Business?

Simply put, the more services you can employ, the more you shrink your IT footprint. These options also include support from your service providers and with less configuration management. You’ll also have fewer issues to review. The beauty of services is that when something goes wrong, your provider is a phone call away and will delegate the job to be fixed for you. No more days of work lost to trying to put out IT fires. 

3. Secure Access Service Edge (SASE)

SASE is a fusion of networking (including SDN and SD-WAN) and security features. When combined, it forms an ultra-secure, high-performing, and flexible network architecture. 

The SD-WAN is an important part of SASE. However, as SD-WANs evolve and become more widespread, they’ll eventually be streamlined in such a way that they will only be another component of the SASE network. If you’re considering adopting an SD-WAN in your workplace, I recommend you use SD-WAN as a service. This option is essentially the path of least resistance when it comes to SD-WAN integration as it allows your provider to easily merge your SD-WAN with the SASE architecture. 

Why Does This Matter for Your Business? 

With the rise of remote working at an all-time high, SASE will eliminate the need for the old VPNs that are usually very problematic. The secure access eliminates the need to connect to a VPN and makes it easier for remote workers to securely connect and stay connected. Imagine a world with no more dropped business calls due to an unreliable VPN! 

Speaking of security, our 4th and final SD-WAN trend is that of AI in SD-WANs.

4. AI in SD-WANs

A final SD-WAN trend is AI in managing SD-WANs. An AI component in an SD-WAN can:

  • Optimize traffic path selection
  • Provide better policy definitions and policy as code
  • Provide automated troubleshooting assistance
  • Include smarter performance and security monitoring

Adding AI to SD-WANs will help eliminate some of the burdens of configuration and network monitoring off of the network administrators. 

Why Does This Matter for Your Business?

Of course, it’s up to your networking teams how much they want to rely on the AI component of running the network. That said, it could also become part of the NaaS trend to have it pre-included in the NaaS. Using AI will also allow you to free up your network team’s bandwidth to work on other things. Regardless, these trends provide some food for thought if you’ve been considering an SD-WAN. 

With any new trends, it’s wise to consult with your networking team before taking any action. They can provide you with the best insights into your own network. As you discuss your options, you can start out small with a small proof of concept to see how things work in a sandbox environment. 

We’ve looked at AI in SD-WANs, Secure Access Service Edge, SD-WAN as a service, and Secure Remote Access with SD-WANs in this article, and hopefully provided some insight into what could be the next big change you make to your IT department. 

Have more questions about SD-WANs and modern networking? Look no further! Check out the FAQ and Resource sections below. 

FAQ

What is an SD-WAN?

A software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) uses software to define the network’s attributes. This means you simply need to ship and power up SD-WAN hardware to your sites. Once online, you can then configure the SD-WAN centrally. SD-WAN also uses zero-touch provisioning (ZTP) to facilitate using the setup. 

What is encryption in relation to WAN?

Encryption is a security practice that takes data and ciphers it. That way, only the set receiver can decrypt and read it. This is only possible if the data’s recipient has a key to decrypt the data, though. All modern WANs also encrypt traffic. In turn, WAN optimization software doesn’t optimize TCP and data packets. 

What is Secure Access Service Edge?

Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) is a security framework that outlines the security conventions and network connectivity technologies into a single cloud-delivered platform. This is to enable secure and fast cloud transformation. SASE’s convergence of networking and network security meets the challenges of digital business transformation, edge computing, and workforce mobility. The industry will likely continue to move in this direction as cloud computing continues to grow, as do distributed cloud networks. 

What is Secure Remote Access?

Secure remote access could be called the next generation of VPNs. With remote secure access, you’ll always be connected to your work’s network no matter where you are, eliminating the headache that often comes with using a VPN. Secure Remote Access is also vastly superior to VPNs due to the high standard of tech, security, and connectivity.

What are internet transports?

Internet transports refer to the technology used to establish an internet connection between the internet service provider and your local device. This means several common internet modes of transport exist. These include LTE, T1, T3, Fiber-optic, Cable, DSL, and Dial-up. 

Resources 

TechGenix: How to Choose an SD-WAN Provider for Your Business 

Learn how to choose a provider for your business when it comes to an SD-WAN.

TechGenix: WAN vs SD-WAN Optimization: Which is Better?

Discover the differences between WANs and SD-WANs

TechGenix: MPLS vs SD-WAN: Which is Better for Your Organization?

Learn about the differences between the two: MPLS vs SD-WAN.

TechGenix: Addressing the Needs of Enterprises with SD-WAN Technology 

Discover how SD-WANs are meeting the needs of businesses.

TechGenix: Get the most out of your SD-WAN: Features You Need to Start Using Today

Learn about some SD-WAN features you might be missing out on.

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