Beyond its operational advantages, the other big plus with SD-WAN, Mota says, is the “complete visibility” it offers government IT teams. “With SD-WAN, you have control of your network, not the telecommunications company.”
ACG recently released a report showing that the market for SD-WAN is poised to climb from $539 million in 2018 to more than $2.9 billion by 2023.
“It’s definitely something that’s becoming more popular. We see it picking up tremendous steam,” Mota says.
SD-WAN Can Help Improve Application Performance
Mahoning County, Ohio, is among the state and local governments now riding the SD-WAN wave. The county recently piloted an SD-WAN solution from Riverbed Technology, and the government is now moving forward with full implementation.
“The main thing we wanted to do was enhance application performance over the network,” recalls Jacob Williams, Mahoning County IT director.
Riverbed’s SteelFusion — a product in the company’s SteelHead SD line created specifically for managing mission-critical remote and branch office locations — accomplished that and more, Williams says. “When these SteelHead appliances are running, we see a notable improvement, and our users notice it as well. And it’s helping us cut our maintenance costs by reducing the need for infrastructure at some of our remote sites.”
His 12-member IT team supports about 50 unique departments operating in nearly 20 locations, Williams explains. Over the years, as they’ve moved away from paper processes, the volume of data generated electronically at each site has grown exponentially, as expected.
For a while they were able to manage that data successfully, but eventually they couldn’t keep up, he says. Some-times they’d start a backup on a weekend, for example, and it wouldn’t be finished until the middle of the following week. “The impact that had on our applications was terrible. It slowed down everything, and people just got frustrated,” Williams says.
They tried adding bandwidth, but that didn’t get them very far. “It was a never-ending cycle because we needed more and more. We were basically just throwing money away,” he says.
Finally, in 2017, the county realized it might benefit from a different approach. The IT team replaced the infrastructure at each remote site with a single Riverbed appliance about the size of a pizza box, and they installed another appliance at headquarters to handle data storage and backup.
Now, with SD-WAN, Williams’s team can do most of its work behind the scenes, without the need for extensive travel, and their backup-related logjams are a thing of the past.
“We’re still evolving, and like anyone, we can improve. But we’re much more efficient and productive now. Everything is working out great,” he says.