There’s been a significant shift in how organizations operate. They’ve migrated to the cloud, adopted a multitude of SaaS applications, and the life of their data extends beyond their data centers. Having seen success with ‘working from home’, these organizations are preparing a ‘return to work’ plan that brings hybrid work to life through evolving workplace policies and culture.

Their offices are also being redesigned – and potentially re-imagined – to foster collaboration, encourage an exchange of ideas, and provide opportunities for alignment across teams and the organization as a whole. In doing so, they’re bringing office spaces to life with a host of sensors and intelligent devices, all powered by IoT and AI.

As employees embrace and demand the shift to hybrid work, what we don’t usually see is the fabric seamlessly connecting all of the people and devices together to make work in the new-normal miraculously effective. Behind the scenes, it’s SD-WAN – albeit a more modern form of the technology, with some new features and capabilities – that makes it all possible.

Think of the global financial services giant whose treasury operations executives supporting a particular region can work from home. Think medical research professionals using sensors to monitor a trial in real-time in a remote facility on the other side of the planet. Think manufacturers whose management team always has a finger on the pulse of the operations thanks to the connected ecosystem they’ve built across all their campuses.

SD-WAN not only makes all of these use cases possible, securely and reliably, but also delivers an amazing user experience that keeps the organization running like the well-oiled machinery it was intended to be.

What’s new with SD-WAN?

SD-WAN has always been a technology of great utility. Capabilities such as ensuring that the most critical applications are prioritized and allotted the bandwidth they need to run smoothly, secure and direct internet access, application visibility, and centralized management and orchestration are table stakes.

Working with hundreds of enterprise customers looking to leverage SD-WAN for mission critical connectivity, its natural that the SD-WAN offering has evolved.

Today, the team is working with key customers to launch new capabilities such as multi-region fabric (MRF) architecture to provide operational simplification and resiliency, path telemetry and app telemetry that helps pin-point performance issues, cloud data center interconnect for cloud-to-cloud connectivity and site-to-cloud connectivity.

SD-WAN is reliable because it can be made secure 

Security is important to Cisco’s customers, especially in this new-era where people are connecting any device to any network from anywhere and expecting to be able to get on with their work and workflows. Making this possible and ensuring a seamless experience requires security to be part of the very fabric of SD-WAN – and it is.

Right at the architecture level, the organization adopts a holistic view of the whole environment. There’s a certificate exchange of the various networks that an organization uses as well as its devices. This is known as overlay security of the SD-WAN deployment and it is fully automated. All of the tunnels are also encrypted with security keys that are exchanged every 24 hours, which make it a highly secure network.

Depending on the demands of the application, whether a user needs to access the internet, they need access to critical data, and so on, the SD-WAN network can provide various options for connectivity. This is where SASE comes into play, which integrates seamlessly to provide a highly granular level of monitoring along without compromising the user’s experience.

Aside from leveraging a SASE solution, traffic can alternatively be routed to a co-location site to ensure compliance with local regulations and business policies.

Given the intensive need for bandwidth of modern applications, SD-WAN can also intelligently deploy a firewall and establish a connection between a branch and a data center quickly instead of routing the traffic through a SASE solution.

With SD-WAN, security is not one lock that you put on a door. It’s a layered solution that ensures security at multiple junctions to keep data, applications, and organizations secure.

Taking businesses further with SD-WAN analytics

SD-WAN analytics has typically been limited to gaining visibility into the needs of applications and their network demands. As a capability, analytics has improved by leaps and bounds.

Today, through in-built and acquired capabilities thanks to well-planned integrations, the network team is able to gain absolute visibility into their network and share that visibility with other teams who depend on the insights to plan their course of action.

Be it analytics, ThousandEyes, WAN Insights, or anything else that Cisco integrates with its SD-WAN solution for customers, it creates opportunities to drive efficiency and reduce costs as well as downtime.

Ultimately, the enhancement of the analytics capability has allowed SD-WAN to add-in automations that make life easier for the network team, reduce red flags, and create a more intelligent network overall.

One of our banking clients– has a network team as well as a server team. Thanks to an advanced SD-WAN rollout across their business, the network team doesn’t have to worry when the server team decides to run a backup of critical data.

Since it is an intelligent network, even if the server team’s action was not planned in advance, not scheduled, and was not intimated to the network team, traffic for other can be routed via alternate routes to deliver delightfully secure experiences.

The bottom line is simple – SD-WAN has evolved and can overcome a number of challenges today that it would otherwise struggle with in the past. Stay tuned to the Cisco APJC Network to learn more about these features and capabilities in the coming weeks.