From Single Location Businesses to Enterprise Branch of One: How SD-WAN is Evolving to Address More Needs

Jan 11, 2023, 00:00 AM by Maddison Sharp
SD-WAN can provide remote employees with a secure office-like experience anywhere they work.

In today’s work-from-anywhere environment, companies of all sizes are looking to ensure every place of business, whether a home office or a branch location is supported with fast, reliable, and secure connectivity. When any location becomes an official work site, connectivity must be extended into individual homes, coffee shops, and into the pockets of remote workers — all with a close eye on security and service quality. Of course, this is easier said than done, but evolutions in networking technologies are easing the burdens of putting secure connectivity anywhere, enabling what has become known as the “branch of one” or “SD-Branch.”

SD-WAN for Branch Offices and Remote Workers

To understand how SD-WAN evolved into the idea of SD-Branch, it’s helpful to put the branch office location into an IT context. We all know what a branch office is in physical terms. In technological terms, it is a point of connection to the corporate network and its core IT assets, i.e. site-to-site data exchange between the branch location and the headquarter’s corporate IT network.

Traditionally, connecting a branch office to the corporate network was a rather involved process requiring specialized equipment. The Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) changed that, making it easy for a branch office to have simple, virtualized network connectivity alongside firewalls, routing, optimization capabilities, and direct connections to cloud services. Think of it as the secure, software-defined branch.

What is SD-Branch?

SD-Branch is an SD-WAN-based strategy that allows enterprises to minimize IT infrastructure at a branch office and automate operations, helping to reduce costs while also improving application performance. SD-Branch solutions replace the standard IT branch office hardware stack with software, using SD-WAN as a single platform to address all branch network needs with the ease of a unified dashboard or centralized controller. See how Masergy and Fortinet work together to deliver SD-Branch solutions.

Benefits of SD-Branch Solutions

  • Improve branch and home office uptime and application performance, using SD-WAN’s abilities to connect directly to the Internet and better utilize bandwidth.

  • Quickly connect new sites: leverage wireless connectivity (4G, 5G), cloud-based technology, and virtualized network functions to accelerate business expansion.

  • Free your IT resources: Remotely manage branch routers, WiFi controllers and switches.

  • Enhance security: Implement or replace branch firewalls to secure public Internet connectivity and Internet breakouts.

  • Operationalize network expenses: Turn hardware into software and services.

  • Reduce costs: leverage SD-WAN for the cost advantages of public access methodologies (broadband, direct Internet access, home and public Internet connectivity).

SD-WAN for Remote Workers — Whether at Home or Mobile

Today that same vision is being carried into the home and on-the-go as SD-WAN for remote workers takes hold. Sometimes called SD-Remote, SD-Mobile, SD-Home, or On-the-Go solutions, these offerings take many of the same branch network and security functions and make them available for an individual user in virtually any location.

In the case of Masergy’s Work-From-Anywhere solutions, employees connect an SD-WAN appliance to their home network router, and built-in secure gigabit routing and WiFi 5 are turned on by default. This allows remote employees to have their work laptop, cell phone, and personal devices all seamlessly connected to the corporate WAN via their home Internet, while other internet users in the home are segmented and use only their home Internet service. This is an important separation in the age of increased security threats. Other benefits include:

  • A seamless connectivity experience for users needing secure remote access to the corporate network

  • Improved cloud application performance for those using home Internet, public WiFi or mobile cellular services to connect

  • The same security protections used in the office can be applied to the remote workforce

In the case of mobile solutions, Masergy offers a software-based solution delivering VPN connectivity with enhanced, cloud-native security. Additionally, Comcast Business also offers Secure Remote Access solutions.

SD-WAN for Single Location Businesses

You don't need multiple locations or branch offices to make SD-WAN a smart choice. By securely connecting remote workers over home and public internet, small and single location businesses can realize many of the same security and network management benefits larger organizations are seeing, all while providing an office-like experience for high-value employees.

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