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Successful SD-WAN use cases begin with knowing your options

The WAN has been around for decades, but due to its reliance on multiple layers of both customer and service provider hardware, it is complex and extremely slow to change. If only the network could be simplified and adaptable. That's where software-defined WAN comes in.

In this video, John Burke, principal research analyst and CIO for Nemertes Research, addresses the topic of SD-WAN. This video can help enterprises looking to establish successful SD-WAN use cases, or those simply trying to understand the different SD-WAN options available.

Software-defined WAN does not eliminate the complex network. Instead, it creates a virtual layer on top of the network that simplifies interaction with the WAN and allows for the network to be managed as a whole.

Burke recommends enterprises evaluate SD-WAN for themselves. Research SD-WAN use cases, and evaluate based on cutting connectivity and administrative and opportunity costs. However, enterprises shouldn't select an option based solely on cost. Instead, Burke says to look for a robust option that encompasses standards for policy definition, centralized management and more.

Enterprises wishing to implement SD-WAN uses cases can choose from a variety of options. First and foremost is the simple pure overlay SD-WAN that creates a virtual network to mask the complexity of the WAN underneath. But, as Burke mentions during the video, SD-WAN can be integrated with a hybrid WAN.

"Much of the appeal of SD-WAN comes from mixing it with the idea of a hybrid WAN -- one that combines the services of multiple carriers," says Burke. This option treats the internet as the carrier backbone, supplementing or replacing MPLS with a cheaper internet connection.

Managed SD-WAN has also grown in popularity. With this option, enterprises pay service providers to install, monitor and maintain their network. More and more service providers are partnering with vendors to offer managed SD-WAN, making successful SD-WAN use cases an increasing reality.

Finally, Burke describes an emerging option: SD-WAN delivered as a carrier service, using carrier equipment throughout. Instead of using equipment built for a single purpose, this method uses virtual network functions that run wherever they're needed, increasing agility in the network and simplifying management. "Now the hardware's not specialized; it's just a platform for software," says Burke.

With so many SD-WAN options available, it is important that enterprises take the time to look over each of them. And if you're looking to do just that, or are aiming for successful SD-WAN use cases, or if you simply want to understand SD-WAN a little better, this is the video to watch.

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