Enterprises are increasingly deploying software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) as a multi-protocol label switching (MPLS) replacement over the WAN. What many initially considered a niche market or even a networking fad is proving to be an advantageous strategy for handling a variety of network challenges. Changes like digital transformation and public cloud adoption are pushing enterprises to consider alternatives to WAN using MPLS. Initially, the consideration of an MPLS replacement centered around cost. While highly reliable, MPLS became a costly way to connect for increasing data flow. SD-WAN provides the opportunity to optimize network traffic through a variety of paths, some with higher-bandwidth broadband, using application-specific policy to automatically route traffic based on how critical it is to business operations. What has resulted with SD-WAN is not just a way to save costs by offering alternative paths to MPLS, but enterprises are also enjoying network optimization and better performance. In most instances, enterprises implement SD-WAN solutions when they are upgrading their network infrastructure or if they are implementing a new set of devices that multiply the number of endpoints and complicate network management. Here are several initiatives that benefit from an MPLS alternative in the form of SD-WAN: Digital transformation: Digital transformation initiatives are usually focused on improving the customer experience through the advance of digital technology. They involve the implementation of cloud services, the prioritization of mobile, plus the introduction of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and big data and analytics. Network optimization plays a big role in managing the performance of each of these areas, as well as handling security concerns. Public cloud adoption: Enterprises are hosting more of their applications in the cloud, changing the ideal network infrastructure from a hub-and-spoke design, where traffic flows in and out of the network to branches, to a direct connection to the cloud. Instead of backhauling traffic to the data center, SD-WAN uses broadband links that are equipped with encrypted tunnels, to directly connect to the internet. Network optimization: One of the reasons enterprises choose SD-WAN is the push for operational efficiency, improved uptime, and network management that supports business continuity strategies. Many enterprises also use fragmented network management tools, forcing them to constantly put out fires, rather than proactively optimize the network for improved performance. SD-WAN offers zero-touch provisioning, saving time and costs associated with set-up and troubleshooting of branch locations. The network is managed using a virtual overlay, allowing all configuring, provisioning and troubleshooting to be completed from any location. Traffic is also segmented, so administrators can identify and isolate a threat. This benefit becomes more pronounced for enterprises deploying an IoT fleet or when a particular branch location is compromised with a threat of breach. Enterprises often initially consider SD-WAN as an MPLS replacement with costs in mind, but it’s the broader benefits that make SD-WAN a technology that continues to grow in the market. Contact us at PhoneOne to talk about the benefits a particular enterprise will experience with SD-WAN.