Is your enterprise network meeting your business ambitions?
Getting wrapped up in the hype of new technologies and the excitement surrounding them is easy. However, some promised benefits of network infrastructure advances have not materialized, leaving technology buyers confused, disillusioned, and sometimes feeling oversold. Their ultimate concern is whether they face an increased business risk from an underperforming infrastructure.
Change, however, is vital. Moving to the cloud and working from anywhere with almost any device have seen legacy network and security architectures struggle. Businesses require a flexible and resilient strategy to connect and secure highly distributed networks, encompassing the right technologies to match business outcomes.
Ultimately your network infrastructure roadmap must replace inefficient technologies with high-performance flexible systems that enhance productivity and the user experience in a secure environment.
The IT infrastructure has become your enterprise’s digital nervous system. Building flexibility and scalability enables your business to get a head start by rapidly changing to market demands. But, many C-suite executives have been left with buyer’s regret and need assistance navigating the market’s wealth of information and choice.
SD-WAN, for example, has been championed as the hero in network management, offering reduced costs, enhanced efficiencies, zero-touch provisioning, and tightened security. But many first-generation SD-WAN deployments, while improving legacy networks, have not lived up to expectations.
Some first-generation SD-WAN solutions have limitations in features or capabilities and network visibility, making it difficult to fully optimize network performance or achieve specific business objectives. Where SD-WAN solutions use different vendors, organizations can also suffer interoperability issues, making it challenging to troubleshoot and resolve.
Configuring and optimizing SD-WAN deployments can also be challenging and complex, especially for large distributed networks. If the underlying network infrastructure is not robust enough to support increased traffic and bandwidth demands, it will not meet performance expectations.
To meet your organization’s long-term requirements, you need a next-generation SD-WAN offering that provides a high level of automation, such as in moves, adds and changes. Cloud management platforms are also essential for their consolidated view across all cloud resources, allowing you to monitor performance in real-time.
Focus on security
In addition, the new hybrid, cloud-driven working environment has further expanded the threat landscape. Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) promises to reinforce enterprise security. It has been designed to deliver converged network and security-as-a-service capabilities to provide consistent and secure access to resources for users.
This sounds great, but buyers, be warned. Not all SASE solutions regarding security, access, and application performance are the same. You must select the one with the components that suit the business best. It is also vital that each element of the SASE solution interoperates seamlessly with the rest of your integrated network strategy, or you will come up against some significant interoperability issues.
Add to the equation that well-architected single-vendor offerings, converging networking, and security capabilities to connect distributed users, are growing fast. This leaves technology buyers with three options for SASE adoption – a single vendor solution, a duo of vendors (one for network services and one for security services), or a managed SASE solution.
By 2025, Gartner forecasts that 50% of new SD-WAN purchases will be part of a single-vendor SASE offering, up from 10% in 2022. So what is the best way forward? For now, do as Gartner suggests, evaluate all three options, and choose the one with the necessary components, flexibility, and timing.
However, a trusted partner is essential if you are worried about migrating an existing overlay network or designing a network to connect your most remote edges securely. They can help you deploy SD-WAN and SASE while seamlessly managing your network and security.
Key role of the underlay
Get your SD-WAN and SASE strategies right, and you will be on the journey to enhanced performance, security, flexibility, scalability, and control regarding enterprise network requirements. But the story doesn’t stop there.
Enterprises often only focus on the overlay, the virtual network that manages traffic and enhances cloud connectivity. Senior leaders can wonder what mismatch they have been sold without a high-performing underlay network and why they aren’t getting the expected performance. Sub-optimal underlay issues include sub-optimal latency, congestion, and drop-out, resulting in underperforming business applications and unnecessarily increasing business risk.
SD-WAN is an overlay network that still depends on a high-quality physical underlay network to deliver on its promises. Enterprises have been using a hybrid of MPLS and the internet to serve their connectivity needs. Many, however, are looking to drop MPLS due to its price and rigidity. Instead, they are opting for an internet connectivity underlay for their next-generation SD-WAN, now comfortable with its agility, flexibility, and affordability.
However, don’t be drawn into thinking that all internet services are the same. Internet service providers (ISP) can vary widely. Yes, SD-WAN selects the optimal route for any given traffic based on configuration and policies, but the performance is only as good as the routes provided.
Get rid of technology purchasing headaches
SD-WAN and SASE can enhance the network’s performance, security, and simplicity. But despite having access to more information and choice than ever, enterprise customers often regret their buying decisions.  To avoid this, working with technology partners who give you confidence in your buying decisions from the off is pivotal in mitigating risk.
Find out more about why it makes business sense to outsource to an MSP to maximize technology capabilities to support business growth: Blog: Why outsource to a Managed Service Provider?
 Gartner market guide for single vendor SASE https://www.gartner.com/doc/reprints?id=1-2BE2MYZL&ct=221012&st=sb&submissionGuid=3c35af21-55d5-4461-b5d6-7b23c92ebc25
 Gartner four key actions to reduce enterprise buyer regrets https://www.gartner.com/en/articles/4-key-actions-to-reduce-enterprise-tech-buyers-regret