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The Future of SD-WAN


by Frank Cittadino, Chief Technology Officer

I am excited to begin our next chapter as the QOS Networks team joins Zayo Group. Together, we continue our journey as the premier provider of secure edge networking services. We built QOS Networks on the philosophy that providing next-generation services using AI, automation, and integration frees enterprises to focus on strategic initiatives that deliver the ultimate customer experience. SD-WAN has been our specialty, and I am excited about the next evolution.

Why Should Enterprises Care About SD-WAN?

Before the pandemic, we saw growth in software used to improve processes and tasks, and at QOS we brought that to SD-WAN. In the last two years, enterprise needs have shifted to the concept of “anywhere operations.” Now the question is, “How do we stay connected anywhere around the globe?” SD-WAN can solve flexibility, economic, and security issues that predecessors like MPLS and SDN could not.

  • Flexibility: Software built at the edge, where customers are, allows businesses to embrace the scalability and value of cloud connectivity and increase network flexibility.
  • Economy: SD-WAN saves resources by increasing network performance and productivity, decreasing technical support costs, and maximizing connection opportunities.
  • Security: SD-WAN creates a large web of connected devices but keeps private data secure with a mix of important features, zero trust, microsegmentation, and single policy instantiation.

SD-WAN Empowers Overlay Networking

Before SD-WAN, communications infrastructure was piecemeal: an MPLS in the back office, fiber to hyperscalers, and a separate VPN connection to the end-user. The future is a single global overlay that takes the end-user traffic to many workloads based on policy. Overlay networking takes data from a consumer’s laptop, the retail store, or the highly connected showroom directly to the cloud. SD-WAN enables direct traffic — end-user to cloud — with speed, performance, reliability, and security, enabling communication anywhere.

SD-WAN is a when-not-if situation, but there are inherent challenges. Deploying new routers and setting up dedicated hyperscaler connections takes time, energy, and effort. Legacy networking can be complex due to lack of automation; switching from MPLS to SD-WAN can bring challenges as customers move from a consolidated management, control, and data plane to abstraction of those same concepts. Although powerful, software can cause enterprises to over-engineer the solution and complicate network routing and policies. And, with so much optionality in deployment models, it’s tough to determine the best way forward because there’s no right or wrong path. SD-WAN is a new world, and adjustments are necessary, but our approach to global enterprises has allowed customers a faster path to value.

Next-Gen SD-WAN Will Be Cloud Native

Our world is becoming cloud-first, and SD-WAN is no exception — the next generation will be cloud-native and cloud-deployed. When we look at single global overlay, the premise is that SD-WAN will be built directly into the cloud, which allows us to build directly into the customer’s technology. No need for physical infrastructure in a set location anymore — it’s all in the cloud.

Multi-cloud is likely to be the final destination for SD-WAN because of the capabilities of the cloud: performance, economy, reliability, security and scalability. We can take SD-WAN out of a physical location and put it directly into customer technology. This is important because many employees aren’t in the office but still need connectivity. 5G plays a massive part in powering the shift. We’re in the nascent stage, but 5G is a huge mobility driver and provides the infrastructure for secure, reliable connections. 5G will be the basis on which we connect people into the overlay and hyperscalers through the cloud.

In an increasingly online world, investing in digital transformation is table stakes. It is imperative to have the technology to keep your dispersed workforce tied together every day. Equipping your organization with a powerful, reliable, secure connection will provide a competitive advantage now and in the future.

With Zayo’s 15 million fiber miles and 45,000 on-net buildings, and QOS deploying over 45,000 edges in more than 50 countries, we will transform how customers deliver peak application performance and empower digital transformation using ultra-efficient multi-cloud connectivity. We will meet the enterprise CIO where they want to be met — in the software-defined layer.

For more information about the partnership, read the press release.

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