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SD-WAN Bridges the Networking Gap Between Agencies

Greg Stemberger, Iron Bow Technologies

March 23, 2018  |  Networking  •  Software-defined Networking

While most people think of the Washington, DC metro area as the place where government does business, close to 80 percent of federal employees actually live and work outside the Beltway.

In fact, the nearly 3 million civil servants employed by the United States government are spread across all 50 states and 14 territories. And that’s only counting the federal civilian workforce. Almost 1.5 million members of military operate throughout the world as well.

All of this is to say that the federal government exists well beyond the corridors of power in DC, Maryland and Virginia, and the technology connecting its vast network needs to be consistent and reliable.

Currently, that may not always be the case. Many agencies have their networking gear distributed at work sites across vast geographical areas. All that disparate equipment needs to be monitored and right now, some sites are being managed separately.

For example an agency with offices in Los Angeles could be running their systems in a completely different way than that same agency’s offices in New York or Chicago. With the way technology has advanced over the years, this doesn’t need to be the case.

Networking was largely static in nature just like traditional hardware centric data centers, but with the principles of virtualization and cloud based services now having proliferated across IT infrastructure, it has become much easier to build much more agile and flexible networks to meet business needs. This runs along the same lines as what the cloud has brought to enterprise in terms of on-demand access to compute-based resources.

All of these advancements have led up to the creation of software-defined wide-area networks (SD-WANs). While traditional WANs have been around for years, their design is based on multiple devices stacked in a branch office with siloed management and disparate links connecting them.

The real driver behind SD-WAN replacing traditional WAN is the widespread adoption of cloud based services and the continued maturity of SDN as a better approach to traditional networking. Cloud-based services have vastly broadened the way we think about IT infrastructure and what we expect in terms of simplicity and flexibility at which we can deliver services. SDN originally provided a key component to address the demanding networking requirements for cloud-based computing because it necessitated a much more agile and software centric networking approach.

This same evolution is happening with WAN. SD-WAN takes the good parts of traditional WANs, puts them in the cloud and operates under a much more software centric, unified and automated management system.

On the enterprise side, SD-WAN is the engine driving the latest twist in the digital transformation. In fact, research firm IDG said in January that it expects the market for SD-WAN products and services to reach $8 billion in 2021.

SD-WAN is also an incredibly flexible solution. It integrates into an agency’s on-premise services, but also offers key optimizations that are critical to any agencies cloud strategy as they move to consider having more services outside their private data centers but want to ensure that the application experience is maintained or improved when making that transition to consuming more cloud related services. With SD-WAN, agencies can communicate across boundaries seamlessly, without losing a step on their internal workloads and ensure that the experience for their end users is completely transparent.

SD-WAN has come a long way and it shows no signs of stopping. In fact, two giants in the industry have made serious investments in SD-WAN. At the end of last year, VMware acquired VeloCloud and just a few months before that, Cisco took on Viptela. Both of those smaller companies were leading the way in cloud-delivered SD-WAN and with the backing of Cisco and VMware they’ll likely be innovating well into the future.

For more information on how to use SD-WAN to make your agency more efficient, check out the new Iron Bow website.

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