While digital transformation ranks high on the corporate agenda these days, the role of the network often remains underexposed. Which is surprising when you consider that the success of digital transformation and the associated adoption of new technologies depend on a well-functioning network to connect them all together. At the same time, network requirements are driven to new heights on the back of this. Organisations increasingly find themselves struggling to adapt their WAN to the new reality.
To successfully transform into a digital-native enterprise, organisations will need a digital-native network — an application-centric network that supports the right end-user experience through improved flexibility, manageability, scalability, cost-effectiveness, and security. Network virtualisation, hybrid architectures, cloud connectivity, next-generation access, intelligence and automation will be the key building blocks of these networks.
SD-WAN builds on all key elements of this digital-native network and addresses the functional disconnect between private WAN infrastructure characteristics and the evolving needs of branch-office connectivity in the cloud era. Demand for SD-WAN is accelerating, driven by a wide range of use cases and benefits, including flexibility, intelligent path selection, WAN optimisation, reduced complexity and cost-effectiveness.
The network should be positioned as a critical enabler of digital transformation, and the business case for network transformation should be built on that basis. SD-WAN will be a cornerstone of that network transformation. Organisations should explore what benefits SD-WAN can bring to them. This should be part of a broader assessment of the readiness of the WAN for future requirements, including connectivity and additional network functions.
Security plays a critical role when it comes to enterprise networks and should be an integral part of the WAN design. Organisations should therefore scrutinise the security capabilities of solutions and providers in their selection process. Significant attention should also be given to the migration path. Daily business increasingly depends on the network, so migration needs to happen in the most seamless and risk-averse manner. IDC advises organisations to evaluate each potential SD-WAN provider in terms of portfolio, partner ecosystem, deployment model, sourcing strategy, and their track record, in order to find the partner that best suits their specific needs.