Home > Winning Over the Skeptics: How SD-WAN Is Transforming Government Networks

Winning Over the Skeptics: How SD-WAN Is Transforming Government Networks

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Are software-defined wide area networks (SD-WANs) worth the hype? Read below as our own Brandon Shopp details the value of this fast up-and-coming technology and how it can help. Public sector wide-area networks (WANs) are undergoing a transformation. The pressing need to support remote workers and a surge in demand for video conferencing, secure remote access, and cloud applications has seen public sector IT teams shift gears away from traditional, often multi-protocol label switching (MPLS)-based WANs. In their place, agencies are increasingly exploring how smart WAN technology—specifically software-defined WAN, or SD-WAN—can simplify network management, improve network agility, and apply security everywhere. Yet IT pros often argue SD-WAN has a long way to go before the technology matches the hype, creating unnecessary barriers to adoption. Let’s look at what SD-WAN is and why network leaders should be more bullish about making the switch.

What Is SD-WAN?

SD-WAN is a software-based approach to managing the WAN. Offered “as a service,” SD-WAN is abstracted from the underlying hardware. This abstraction greatly simplifies the traditionally complex and time-consuming task of provisioning and managing WANs. It’s also smarter.

How SD-WAN Increases Security Posture

Closing the gaps in an organization’s security is arguably the most important benefit of SD-WAN. In fact, many of today’s SD-WAN solutions have security built in. Consider encryption. Traditional MPLS WAN networks may encapsulate traffic in data packets, but this data remains unprotected from interception as it moves from site to site. On the other hand, almost all SD-WAN solutions have some form of encryption, dramatically improving the security of data in transit. SD-WAN also allows IT teams to bring advanced security services to the remotest edge of their network. This is critical in addressing the changing needs of a remote workforce, the internet of things (IoT), mobility, and segmentation.

Making the Business Case for SD-WAN

One of the big advantages of SD-WAN for budget-constrained agencies is it can be acquired as a software as a service (SaaS) solution with little up-front capital expenditure (CapEx). Once adopted, cost savings continue to be realized in improved network utilization and the productivity of those tasked with managing the network. SD-WAN can involve a learning curve, but once provisioned, it removes a huge burden from the shoulders of network engineers because it automates the complexity of managing highly dynamic cloud and remote office environments. SD-WAN performance monitoring can help detect traffic anomalies indicating malicious activity, discover compromised accounts, and reveal threats.

Living Up to the Hype

If an organization is relatively small with only a handful of geographically distributed sites and few remote workers, traditional WANs may suffice. However, if the environment is highly distributed or is a hybrid infrastructure, then the benefits and economies of scale of SD-WAN can be realized. Read the full Government Technology Insider article here.
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Brandon Shopp
Brandon Shopp is the vice president of product strategy for security, compliance, and tools at SolarWinds. He served as our director of product management since…
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