Whenever people ask me about preparing their IT networks for the future, two emerging technologies immediately come to mind: software-defined WAN and 5G mobile broadband connectivity. While 5G is still emerging, many organizations are already taking advantage of the capabilities of SD-WAN. By combining these technologies in the coming years, organizations will be able to achieve exceptional levels of performance, efficiency, security and resiliency.

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Here are some of the ways these technologies are set to help organizations meet the networking challenges of the future.

SD-WAN Benefit: Transport Independence

SD-WAN disaggregates the service from the physical network, building an overlay on top of an organization’s existing forms of connectivity. This, in turn, enables transport independence, meaning that network traffic is not tied to any one particular form of service. The chief benefit of transport independence for businesses is an increased ability to negotiate prices from different providers.

5G Benefit: Network Slicing

One widely touted feature of 5G connectivity is network slicing, a type of virtual networking architecture that essentially enables the creation of virtual networks on top of a shared physical infrastructure. One benefit of this feature is the ability to deploy only the functions necessary to support particular customers and market segments — which should result in significant cost savings, compared with a model that delivers full functionality even for devices that do not require it.

SD-WAN Benefit: Efficient Bandwidth Utilization

With so many applications using bandwidth, it’s essential for organizations to use the network capacity they have efficiently. SD-WAN enables an organization to take advantage of all its network transports to efficiently use bandwidth and route traffic based on business significance. This is a benefit that could actually be enhanced by the emergence of 5G connectivity. 5G provides a tertiary transport capable of supporting SD-WAN features with the same efficiency as a hard-wired connection.

5G Benefit: Connection of Remote Sites

The throughput of 5G mobile broadband is significantly greater than that of previous generations of mobile connectivity, giving organizations the option to use 5G as their primary form of connectivity for remote sites — at least temporarily. Even if organizations ultimately opt for wired connections at these sites, 5G can provide a stopgap for new locations on fresh sites that are still waiting for fiber to be laid. This, in turn, can allow organizations to open new locations sooner, preventing them from potentially missing out on months of revenue.

SD-WAN Benefit: Security

The deployment of SD-WAN can improve an organization’s network security in a number of ways. These include:

  • Providing transport security through the use of encrypted VPN tunnels
  • Delivering a platform security suite and integration with third-party security solutions
  • Enabling dynamic optimal path routing for essential data
  • Reducing the operational cost for managing an integrated WAN security solution

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