Is SD-WAN Really the Remote Location Saving Grace?
by Joe Michalowski on

How are you holding up against digital transformation? It’s the question looming large over even the most prominent business leaders. But don’t worry—everyone is in the same boat as legacy IT infrastructures get pushed to their limits.

However, if you have a large network of remote workers and offices, you might be facing greater challenges than less-distributed companies.

The problem is that the cloud-based business applications that support your remote offices—including hotels, doctors’ offices, retail stores and more—make WAN optimization harder every day, and end-user experience suffers as a result.

Industry leaders believe the software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) is the answer to digital transformation challenges at distributed companies—but is the technology really going to be a saving grace for your end users?

How an SD-WAN Can Take Remote Offices a Step Forward

An SD-WAN takes advantage of software-defined networking to centralize management, security and policy enforcement for the traditional enterprise WAN that supports your remote workers.

The benefits of centralizing WAN operations lie in the ability to virtualize and automate routing processes. Rather than maintaining expensive routing hardware, an SD-WAN can pair various public internet connections and intelligently direct traffic for your remote workers. This results in a few key benefits:

  • Bandwidth Optimization: The more cloud-based apps you rely on for day-to-day operations, the more bandwidth your employees will consume. An SD-WAN can load-balance these demands more efficiently than with traditional means.
  • Streamlined Configuration: The automation included with SD-WAN devices enable streamlined provisioning. Instead of tying up IT resources in configuration at remote offices, you can push patches and policies from a central management interface.
  • Traffic Prioritization: Beyond intelligent packet routing, IT teams can use the SD-WAN to create rules to prioritize traffic for mission-critical applications. This way, you can improve cost efficiency by using high-quality connections for those apps that need it and lower quality connections for less important applications.

The benefits of an SD-WAN lead many business leaders to jump to the conclusion that this technology improves application performance. However, just because you can manage dynamic routes throughout your multicloud environment doesn’t mean you’re maximizing end-user experiences.

An SD-WAN can drive cost efficiency and give your remote workers more reliable connections to their apps—but it can’t be a saving grace for your distributed business on its own.

What’s Missing From an SD-WAN?

In addition to using an SD-WAN to load-balance secure internet connections for your remote locations, you need to uncover application performance data. An SD-WAN can tell you whether a business application’s data should be transported over the DSL connection or the private line, but it can’t provide IT with visibility into end-user experience.

When your remote workers start to submit help desk tickets because of ghost issues they’re experiencing, the SD-WAN won’t help you troubleshoot. Instead, you’ll be left with the same old frustrating process of sorting through log files to identify the root cause.

All the routing capabilities in the world won’t help you if your point of sale application is slow or the VoIP systems are acting up. Implementing an SD-WAN is becoming increasingly important, but you can’t fall into the trap of thinking it’s a set-it-and-forget-it solution for application performance.

If you want to learn more about boosting end-user experience for your remote locations, sign up today for our free webinar, Why Your Performance Monitoring Isn’t Working for Remote Locations.

Filed Under: Performance Monitoring

Tags: remote locations , remote office monitoring , SD WAN