Why businesses are adopting a hybrid network approach

September 8th, 2021 - Get new posts sent straight to your inbox, click here. Heidi Kraak

While it’s true Software-Defined Wide Area Networking (SD-WAN) is revolutionising networking, it’s often not realistic for businesses to immediately and completely transition away from legacy systems.

On one hand, SD-WAN offers incredible visibility. Centralised controls, along with a host of other impressive features, allow businesses to direct traffic across the network from a single location – a huge step-up from traditional WAN systems in which each individual router needed to be programmed individually.

On the other hand, traditional Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) networking configurations are incredibly reliable and offer quality connections. They can, however, be costly and time-consuming to program, deploy or alter.

Many businesses are choosing to adopt the best of both SD-WAN and MPLS in what is called a ‘hybrid network approach’. It’s worth noting that hybrid approaches to networking are not limited to MPLS and SD-WAN – hybrid networks could comprise any number of technologies, including ethernet and VPN.

What are the benefits of a hybrid network?

Hybrid networking allows businesses to use the most efficient technologies according to the particular needs of the business. Not only does this increase flexibility and scalability of the network, but it can lead to improved performance and user experience, enhanced security and redundancy, and can ultimately save the business money.

Here’s why businesses are adopting a hybrid networking approach:

1 – Improved network performance

Combining multiple technologies in network architecture allows network engineers to route different types of traffic over different mediums. Critical information can be transported on highly reliable mediums, while less critical traffic could be transferred on less costly mediums. This can be further amplified by the application prioritisation functions of an SD-WAN interface.

2 – Visibility and functionality

If your network involves elements of SD-WAN, centralised control can eliminate or minimise the need to manually program each router – a complex, often error-prone process – saving staff time and resources. The single interface also gives businesses increased visibility into the network, making it easier to detect and troubleshoot any issues that arise.

3 – Access to The Cloud

Hybrid networking allows businesses to leverage multiple types of transport, including broadband internet services, which can connect users to cloud-based applications. This is important because cloud-based applications, SaaS subscriptions and other resources underpinned by an internet connection are becoming increasingly popular with businesses. Legacy MPLS systems on their own are generally not designed to carry huge amounts of this kind of traffic – it can lead to backhauling and a slowing down of speeds. Multi-path intelligence, which can be built into hybrid systems, can alleviate these problems, allowing businesses to rely on cloud services where it makes sense to do so.

4 – Scalability and flexibility

Incorporating SD-WAN into your networking mix lets you grow your network and deploy new sites at the touch of a button, instead of messing around with complex manual configurations to connect the new branch to your network. Changes to the network can be rolled out using the same interface. Additionally, combining elements like VPN into your network allows your staff to work from anywhere – they can connect to the network as long as they are signed into the VPN.

5 – Improved security and redundancy

Building SD-WAN into your network allows you to segment traffic, designate security policies to specific applications. In the case of an attack or breach, segmentation allows network administrators to isolate the targeted application without compromising other applications. In a similar way, network administrators can establish automatic failover and redundancy policies that prioritise critical data to ensure issues pertaining to a particular part of the network do not have far-reaching consequences.

6 – Cost effectiveness

MPLS systems alone can be quite expensive not only to deploy and alter, but costs are compounded with cloud-based applications as data is backhauled through the datacentre when branches use these applications. Backhauling increases costs and reduces performance. Building SD-WAN into your networking mix can alleviate some of these costs.

To learn more about SD-WAN, download our free ebook here or visit our website here. Or, to discuss how to enhance your business network, get in touch with our friendly team of Australian-based network engineers on 1300 161 625.