Dan Davenport


As the world has gone digital, more and more organizations are undergoing digital transformations to become digital enterprises. Digital transformation goes beyond business evolution—it prioritizes technology and harnesses innovation to drive business outcomes, deliver a better customer experience, and protect their most valuable assets. 

The next generation of digital transformation will revolutionize how businesses operate, communicate, and secure their networks. And two crucial tenets that will drive digital transformation are Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) and Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) architectures. They can help you become a robust digital enterprise.

What is SD-WAN?

SD-WAN technology lets enterprises use any transport service combination—like MPLS, broadband, and LTE—to connect branch offices, data centers, and cloud applications securely. It simplifies network management, reduces costs, and improves application performance.

SD-WAN also provides network resources orchestration and centralized control. It can dynamically route traffic based on business policies and network conditions to reduce ‘traffic jams’ in the network.

What is SASE?

SASE is a cloud-native architecture that combines network security and access control into a single platform. It brings multiple security functions—firewall, web filtering, intrusion prevention, and zero-trust access—into a single service to provide secure access to cloud applications and data from anywhere, on any device. And it’s all secure.

The Cybersecurity Dream Duo

In 2019, Gartner proposed the SASE architecture as a converged SD-WAN and cybersecurity model to address security vulnerabilities introduced by SD-WAN. Since then, SASE has become the standard framework for bringing together security and networking, using:

  • SD-WAN
  • Secure web gateway (SWG)
  • Next-generation firewalls (NGFW)
  • Zero-trust network access (ZTNA)
  • Cloud security
  • Security orchestration and automation (SOAR) 

When they work together, SD-WAN and SASE allow organizations to create a secure digital enterprise. SD-WAN provides a flexible and resilient network optimized for cloud-based applications; SASE delivers secure access and protection against advanced threats.

These two technologies provide an agile, scalable, and secure solution essential for businesses to remain competitive in today’s digital economy. Here’s how:

  1. Improved application performance. SD-WAN lets enterprises prioritize critical applications and optimize their performance, resulting in a better user experience and increased productivity.
  2. Enhanced security. SASE offers advanced security features such as zero-trust access, web filtering, and malware protection—all are critical for securing the network against cyber threats.
  3. Reduced costs. SD-WAN can reduce network costs by leveraging less expensive transport services, while SASE eliminates the need for multiple security products, reducing overall security costs.
  4. Simplified network management. SD-WAN and SASE provide centralized management and orchestration of network resources, simplifying network management and reducing administrative overhead.

Why you should replace your WAN with SD-WAN

Historically, enterprise WAN was built using dedicated circuits like MPLS, which are expensive and rigid. But with the rise of cloud computing and the growing need for distributed applications, traditional WAN architectures simply aren’t cutting it anymore. 

SD-WAN, however, solves traditional WAN shortcomings. It allows businesses to build a more flexible, cost-effective WAN that you can optimize for cloud-based applications. There are many benefits‌:

  1. Improved application performance. SD-WAN helps businesses prioritize critical applications and route traffic over the most appropriate transport service based on real-time network conditions. This ensures optimal application performance, resulting in a better user experience and increased productivity.
  2. Increased flexibility. SD-WAN lets businesses leverage multiple transport services, including broadband and LTE, to build a more flexible and resilient network. The result? Reduced costs, increased availability, and a more scalable and adaptable network infrastructure.
  3. Simplified network management. SD-WAN provides a centralized management platform that allows businesses to easily configure and manage their network resources. It simplifies network management and reduces administrative overhead.
  4. Enhanced security. SD-WAN offers a range of security features, such as VPN encryption, next-generation firewalls, and intrusion detection and prevention systems. These layers of security create a more secure network infrastructure that better protects against cyber threats.

SD-WAN is essential for businesses requiring a more flexible and cost-effective WAN infrastructure optimized for cloud-based applications. It has a lot of benefits, including improved application performance and flexibility, simplified network management, and enhanced security. SD-WAN is a non-negotiable for digital enterprises.

Components of SD-WAN Networks

Several components work together in an SD-WAN network to provide a flexible, resilient, and secure network infrastructure. These components include: 

  1. SD-WAN edge devices are physical or virtual devices deployed at the network edge (like branch offices or data centers). They provide a range of functions, including traffic management, application optimization, security, and monitoring.
  2. SD-WAN controllers are centralized management platforms that allow for configuration, orchestration, and control of your SD-WAN network. They let administrators manage the network, create policies, and monitor traffic flow.
  3. Transport services. SD-WAN networks can use many transport services, including broadband, LTE, and MPLS. The SD-WAN network dynamically routes traffic over the most appropriate transport service based on real-time network conditions.
  4. Cloud services. SD-WAN networks can also leverage cloud services, such as cloud-based security or application delivery, to optimize network performance and security.
  5. Security services. SD-WAN networks have a range of security features, such as VPN encryption, next-generation firewalls, and intrusion detection and prevention systems. These features help secure the network against cyber threats and protect sensitive data.
  6. Analytics and monitoring. SD-WAN networks provide real-time analytics and network traffic monitoring, enabling administrators to identify and troubleshoot issues—ensuring the network operates at peak performance.

Each component of an SD-WAN network works together to provide a more flexible, resilient, and secure network infrastructure optimized for cloud-based applications. SD-WAN can help you build a more agile and cost-effective network that adapts to changing network conditions and application requirements, providing a competitive edge.

Top SD-WAN Providers

As SD-WAN has grown in popularity, more and more companies offer it. We’ve rounded up a few of the top providers.

  1. Palo Alto Networks offers an SD-WAN solution—Prisma Access—that features NGFW, cloud access security brokers, and advanced threat protection, all integrated with SD-WAN capabilities.
  2. VMware has a popular SD-WAN solution—VMware SD-WAN—that includes a range of features, from traffic steering and optimization to security. You can deploy VMware SD-WAN on-premises or in the cloud.
  3. Aruba (Silver Peak) is a specialized SD-WAN provider that offers a range of features, including WAN optimization, dynamic path control, and application visibility and control. Silver Peak is known for its ability to optimize performance for cloud-based applications.
  4. Fortinet is a provider of cybersecurity solutions. Its SD-WAN solution, Fortinet Secure SD-WAN, includes a suite of security features like next-generation firewalls, intrusion prevention, and web filtering.
  5. Cisco is a leading provider of networking solutions. Its SD-WAN solution—Cisco SD-WAN—offers comprehensive features and functions, including security, application optimization, and policy-based routing.

These are just a few of the many companies offering SD-WAN solutions. At Lightstream, we also provide SD-WAN and managed services to ensure you have a smooth transition to SD-WAN and create a fully secure environment. 

Ready to get started? Contact us.

Keep Informed


Dan Davenport


Keep Informed