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March 2016 Vol 7 / No. 2

SD-WAN makes secure networks possible in hybrid WANs

As enterprises became more distributed over the years, a curious trend emerged: MPLS was no longer the golden child of the wide area network (WAN). Its high costs and inflexibility left many network engineers disillusioned. All the while, commercial Internet services became an attractive option for branch connectivity.

But for most enterprises, a hybrid WAN architecture -- one that relies on a mix of access connections -- was not only tricky from a routing perspective. Broadband becoming more than a failover option at branch offices also raised red flags about enterprises' ability to maintain secure networks.

The emergence of a software-defined WAN (SD-WAN), however, is helping enterprises aggregate MPLS and Internet connections without sacrificing their secure networks, even improving them in some cases. As we explore in this edition of Network Evolution, early adopters say they're confident in sending sensitive data over the Internet via SD-WAN platforms.

Also in this issue, Cisco and Microsoft have taken the fight to the cloud as they once again go head-to-head in their ongoing battle for the unified communications market. Learn more about how to decide whether Microsoft's Skype for Business or Cisco's Spark is a better fit for your enterprise.

We also dive into beacons on the network and what you need to know about installing and managing them -- straight from companies that have already deployed them.

Finally, don't miss this edition of The Subnet, in which we explore how an IT pro at a high-tech Midwestern church manages a wireless network that supports thousands of congregants who use the church's mobile app on its WLAN during prayer services.

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