Software-Defined WAN (SD-WAN) is, quite simply, the backbone of hybrid cloud for enterprise applications. It’s the backbone of a secure digital perimeter. Simply said, it’s the foundation of modern networking requirements.

2018 will be the year that SD-WAN is recognized as such—industry-wide.

Just look at the trend of SD-WAN acquisitions that happened in the industry in 2017. Citrix launched its own SD-WAN product line three years ago in anticipation of the rapidly rising industry demand for a new way to network. Our prediction has borne out, and it’s no coincidence that other vendors have arrived at the same conclusion.

Let’s explore how this transformative technology is leading the networking revolution across the enterprise.

SD-WAN Disruption

Can you remember the first time you used a ride-sharing service? Maybe you don’t remember your first ride specifically, but I bet you also don’t remember the last time you took a traditional taxi (or you might wish you didn’t).

SD-WAN is akin to Uber of the networking world. Let’s extend the metaphor, shall we?

Automation & Efficiency

In the old model, a human operator controls the fleet of individual taxis out on the streets; in the traditional network model, each device is managed separately.

Today, ride-sharing software automates every component of the transportation equation: available vehicles, route efficiency, real-time demand… the list goes on and on. SD-WAN technology connects enterprise networks, including branch offices, data centers, cloud based workloads, Software-as-a-Service, Unified Communications-as-a-Service, through automation to deliver the same result: a seamless, convenient, and ultra-efficient experience. Just like grabbing the nearest ride with a simple click, SD-WAN relies on a single pane of control to manage all the points where the network is running.

Availability & Awareness

Unless you live in New York City, you’re likely familiar with the stress of securing a taxi exactly when and where you need it. You know the struggle of trying to contact your driver amidst inevitable changing conditions. If the taxi isn’t there when it was supposed to be, you’re scrambling to call a friend for a last minute ride… not fun.

In the ride-sharing economy, availability isn’t a concern. Your ride-sharing app is integrated with a host of third-party apps that ensure contextual awareness. Looking up directions on Google Maps? You can order a Lyft within Google Maps to get where you’re going.

In a similar sense, SD-WAN comes with built-in app awareness that contextually assesses which apps to prioritize in real time to ensure an optimal end-user experience. It knows which apps require an Uber Black connection quality and which can ride Uber Pool. The days of shaky video and voice communications are over. SD-WAN is designed to efficiently and consistently handle the high-volume of application traffic that the modern and future world produces.

Most importantly, SD-WAN ensures that the network is always available. After all, the business consequences of a network going down are a lot harsher than showing up fifteen minutes late to a dinner because your ride got stuck in traffic.

Security & Visibility

The ability to share your ride status with friends and family isn’t only convenient—it’s an essential safety feature. You can rest in the knowledge that your ride is being recorded in its entirety, that your driver has been vetted, and that they have a positive average rating. In contrast, ride-sharing apps make you question who any given taxi driver is, or what kind of experiences people have had with them. Ride-sharing safety features are so common-sense, it’s hard to imagine a time before them.

SD-WAN’s built-in security features cover everything from common-sense protections to hyper-intelligent, real-time threat defense. It’s designed to securely integrate with and complement cloud providers’ security systems, redefining the enterprise security perimeter into the cloud era. Built-in encryption and firewalls are just a few examples of the technology that give businesses one less thing to worry about. When given a choice between a driver with a proven track-record or a stranger behind the wheel, who would you pick?

A Software-Defined Future

As enterprises continue to move applications and business processes from their own locations to the cloud, they need to ensure their employees will have consistent, high-quality, and 24/7 access to the data and apps they need. They need to guarantee a superior end user experience, un-muffled voice feeds, and crystal-clear video—especially when it concerns customer calls.

They need to ensure they’re taking advantage of all the opportunities the cloud has to offer while maintaining local efficiency and visibility where it’s needed. They need a hybrid-cloud model to strike a confident balance between true scalability, security, and granular control. Luckily for them, SD-WAN and the cloud go together like a burger and fries, to build the new security perimeter for the cloud era.

At Citrix, we believe SD-WAN is a crucial component of any hybrid cloud environment. It’s a prerequisite in a modern enterprise arena characterized by digital transformation, cloud sprawl, aggressive cybersecurity attacks, and a new era of integrated communications-as-a-service. Simply put, SD-WAN is the backbone of the new securely defined perimeter for the cloud era.

Add Citrix products and services to the SD-WAN mix, and it becomes possible to efficiently, securely, and intelligently automate the entire network. The result? Let’s just say our customers aren’t busy hailing cabs these days.