This article originally appeared in Network Computing
The word “visionary” describes those with unusually keen foresight and imagination. It is a description reserved for those with a view of the future and a forward-leaning strategy. It is not typically the first word that comes to mind when developing an approach to SD-WAN, but it absolutely should be.
A clear vision should be top-of-mind and closely associated with your SD-WAN approach. But how do visionary IT leaders create a “future-proof” SD-WAN strategy, and exactly what do visionary SD-WAN companies have in their sights? Here we explore the characteristics marking undeniable foresight and ingenuity in SD-WAN.
Everyone wants to digitally transform, migrate to the cloud and seamlessly adopt SD-WAN, but not at the cost of security. Next-gen firewalls, IPsec tunneling and encryption are non-negotiable requirements for hybrid approaches that blend access to public and private clouds. And while most SD-WAN strategies have advanced in bundling these features as the default standard, the most innovative strategies are reaching beyond these basics.
The most comprehensive SD-WAN approaches are incorporating security technologies and advanced analytics. IT leaders are using their SD-WAN investment as an opportunity to tack on cloud security tools like Cloud Workload Protection for AWS, Azure and other IaaS/PaaS solutions. They are also adding machine learning, behavioral analytics and Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB) to protect their expanding list of SaaS applications, not to mention technologies specifically for Microsoft Office 365 monitoring.
It does not – and should not – stop there.
Forward-leaning SD-WAN providers are offering a host of security services so investments in SD-WAN do not equate to more work for IT teams working to refresh their WAN edge technology. It is often clients who are tasked with trying to make sense of the barrage of security alerts and threat monitoring reports that come as a natural byproduct after adding SD-WAN firewalls and cloud security technologies. By making security intrinsic to the solution, fully managed solutions now directly address the need for 24/7 threat detection and incident response.
With the rising popularity of cloud service providers, direct connections to AWS and Azure are commonplace with any SD-WAN strategy, but innovators are taking them to new heights. Services are becoming even more advanced by wrapping interconnections with service level agreements, guaranteeing service quality into the AWS environment.
When cloud services are top of mind, cloud applications are too.
IT leaders are extending their SD-WAN connections for direct access to hundreds of SaaS providers including Salesforce, Box, and Zendesk. These guaranteed services are giving IT leaders confidence in their cloud-first strategy while also helping them ensure more consistent application performances across the globe – and a more delightful user experience.
Artificial intelligence is pushing the boundaries of what is possible across virtually every industry, and it is no different with SD-WAN. AI-based automation is the technology at the center of the autonomous networks of the future, and SD-WAN is becoming the vehicle to infuse it into IT.
According to Nemertes Research, AI for network operations (AIOps) solutions offer a new generation of technologies with the potential to automate new swathes of network operations. Essentially, AIOps is laying the groundwork for virtual network assistants that can evolve into autonomous networking. Visionary providers with autonomous networking in their sights have taken note, integrating AIOps into their SD-WAN management consoles. In comparison, no other strategy is more forward-leaning today.
The death of digital transformation often results from siloed systems and management models. When the pace of change morphs regularly, enterprises require SD-WAN responsiveness where the underlying IT infrastructure acts as one transparent ecosystem. As SD-WAN becomes the central hub for network services, security, cloud services, cloud applications, and AI-based automation, innovators are keeping a close eye on the number of dashboards, portals, and consoles they have to manage.
Executives trying to create an incubator for innovation understand that their success hinges on keeping visibility and control in a single location where rapid pivots can be managed by virtual, cloud and software-defined technologies. Some of the most far-sighted IT leaders and SD-WAN providers alike tout their ability to deliver one cloud platform and one portal that can serve across multiple IT domains, converging networking, security and analytics into a simplified approach for digital transformation.
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