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The Top 3 Benefits of Next-Generation SD-WAN

Why Next-Generation SD-WAN Is Critical to Avoid Failure in Mainstream Deployments The SD-WAN market is at a critical inflection point. We are past the

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Why Next-Generation SD-WAN Is Critical to Avoid Failure in Mainstream Deployments

The SD-WAN market is at a critical inflection point. We are past the early adopters phase and mainstream enterprises are now looking to deploy SD-WAN. This is where many products sputter out, since mainstream customers often have requirements that are different or more comprehensive than the early adopters. To avoid failed deployments, customers must consider whether the products they are evaluating were designed for early adopters, or for mainstream customers, much like themselves. Understanding the context of SD-WAN solutions – and the benefits of Next-Generation SD-WAN – is essential when evaluating what the market has to offer.

Legacy SD-WAN

The first generation of SD-WAN products were focused on enabling internet broadband-based connectivity to data centers. Legacy products attempted to address the challenges of VPN complexity and the day-one deployment complexity of traditional branch routers. These were very real problems and fueled deployments by early adopters. 

The Big Shift

At Palo Alto Networks, we are seeing a dramatic shift in mainstream customer requirements. In addition to gaining the attractive economics of broadband, future-looking organizations want to solve three big branch office challenges:

  • Delivering secure, high-performance access to cloud and SaaS applications.
  • Dramatically reducing the operating costs of delivering branch services including network, security, visibility, unified-communications-as-a-service (UCaaS) and multi-cloud access.
  • Enabling “anywhere work” by extending SD-WAN benefits to teleworkers.

Legacy SD-WAN solutions fall woefully short in solving the above problems. They were designed with a packet-based architecture for data center application delivery, not for cloud and SaaS. They rely on manual interventions for troubleshooting and often require expensive hardware and software stacks at the branch to deliver critical branch services.

The Benefits of Next-Generation SD-WAN

To solve these new challenges, organizations now require an SD-WAN solution that allows them to specify application policies (irrespective of whether the application is in the cloud, SaaS or data center), with a consistent model for performance and security, and a cloud-delivered model for branch services. To truly realize operational cost savings, organizations need an autonomous system that dramatically reduces their support and operational burdens by leveraging the power of data science and APIs. 

The three key characteristics of Next-Generation SD-WAN solutions (and their benefits) include:

  • App Defined: Products that operate at L3 and L7 – the network and application layers, and hence enable performance controls for SaaS, cloud and custom data center applications without the need for bookends. Products should provide application-flow-based traffic engineering that delivers SLAs for all apps and the best end-user experience. 
  • Autonomous: Products that capture L3-L7 data and use data science to provide insights into application and network behavior. Further, autonomous products use the insights to adapt to issues by reprogramming themselves, delivering dramatic reduction in operational costs and accelerating time to problem resolution.
  • Cloud-delivered: Products that provide a platform for branch services to be delivered from the cloud, including network, security, UCaaS and multi-cloud access. As branches are decoupled from the data center, customers don’t have to truck-roll services to the branch. Customers gain an API-based model to integrate cloud security and other services at the branch without additional hardware or software.

The Best Benefit? 243% ROI

Forrester Consulting recently conducted an independent study of Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation SD-WAN and found that an average customer who deploys CloudGenix SD-WAN would receive a 243% return on their investment within three years!* No wonder CloudGenix was named a 2020 Gartner Peer Insights Customers’ Choice for WAN Edge Infrastructure and is critical to enabling a cloud-delivered branch. Unlike legacy SD-WAN, Palo Alto Networks Next-Generation SD-WAN truly delivers cloud-scale economics to the enterprise branch. To learn more, please join us on Oct. 7 at our upcoming virtual event: The World’s First Next-Gen SD-WAN

*The Total Economic ImpactTM of Palo Alto Networks for Network Security and SD-WAN, a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Palo Alto Networks, September 2020.


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