I’ve been working on software-defined networking opportunities over the past five years or so, and it continues to amaze me how many enterprise network departments are only embarking on the software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) journey because they are either told to do so by analysts or because of perceived cost savings.

Meanwhile on the other side of the office, the operations team or maybe a line of business are hacking together a plan to move to Cloud or SaaS. It’s often the case that this lack of communication within an enterprise can create a somewhat dysfunctional set of projects where major programs are almost bound to fail. By working together, networking and operations teams can realise the potential of SD-WAN to optimise and maximise the adoption of a shiny new software-as-a-service (SaaS) application, with a far better user experience

The implementation of an SD-WAN strategy can help reduce the complexity of managing networks, especially as enterprises move towards multi-cloud environments. Cost savings may not be the primary benefit of an SD-WAN, as there are other aspects that will have implications for networking costs in the longer term.

Yet even when both teams align, it’s also imperative that they bring the chief security officer and team on board. The old notion of perimeter security is evolving, and enterprises should be moving to a embedded model where security is intertwined with the network and applications.

Once enterprises understand the links between all these elements, they are able to move to a much happier place where projects are far less likely to fail. For its part, Cisco has long understood the necessity of combining security with SD-WAN, for example and has invested heavily in bringing them together in a single platform that is complemented by dynamic cloud-based services such as DNS and Secure Internet Gateway (SIG).

Following the implementation of the Cisco solution at an enterprise, we are then in a position to optimise and secure the network and deliver the traffic directly to the cloud provider in a simple and cost-effective way. Through enhanced analytics we can also demonstrate to a particular business line how a specific application is behaving, and help the team better understand the outcome they are seeking. We can optimise how the app is prioritised based on time of day, policy or behaviour.

By working with Cisco and our service providers customers, enterprises can get to the outcome they seek more quickly and cost effectively. There is no cloud without the network, and while the nature of the WAN may be changing, its fundamental role in delivering applications reliably and securely is not negated by the move towards software-defined technologies.

Be it hybrid or pure internet, the WAN environment requires capacity planning, 24 x 7 management and integration at different levels in the network. So, our customers bring their applications and cloud migrations; Cisco brings the best in LAN, WAN and security fit for the cloud market.

Put it all together, and you will have the outcome you want. The network becomes more effective and the applications are adopted in a secure manner.

Then, surely everybody should be happy…



Dominic Elliott

Chief Technology Officer

Global Service Provider - Northern Europe