Software-defined branch or SD branch is an architectural solution that enables enterprises to effectively streamline their WAN and branch by combining the networking and security functionalities into a consolidated software platform with several sets of IP services. The deployment of SD-branch eradicates the need for deploying multiple hardware appliances and related software packages. SD-branch provides a complete set of integrated networking solutions, including Ethernet, routing, SD-WAN, and Wi-Fi. It also offers security solutions such as firewall, web-gateway, IPS etc.. Enterprises can easily deploy SD-branch to solve complex WAN and branch architectural challenges. Deployment of SD-branch offers various benefits such as cost reduction, simplified management, improved IT agility, and a more secure branch.
SD branch solutions drastically reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO). By standardizing software and commodity hardware instead of proprietary networking and security solution, end-users can drastically reduce infrastructure capital expenditure (CAPEX). Additionally, end-users can reduce their operational expenses (OPEX) by reducing branch office truck rolls and limiting the use of the help-desk. The deployment of SD-branch solutions increase IT agility. End-users can establish and start operating SD-branch architectural solutions quickly. As a result of quick deployment, a significant amount of time is saved.
SD-branch solutions also lead to improved application performance and better security. Applications or apps have become such a vital part of any enterprise operation, that poor performance of apps or downtime across WAN can severely impact employees’ productivity. SD WAN, one of the components of SD-branch, can categorize applications and easily plot them to the most suitable connectivity solution in order to improve the applications’ performance. SD-branch also simplifies the support and overall operation. It reduces the time required by the IT team to operate and manage networking and security services, thereby reducing the operation expenses to around 50%.
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The SD-branch market is driven by an increase in demand for SD-branch among enterprises of various sizes. The increase in demand is largely due to several benefits that the solution offers at the operational level. SD-branch is the advance form of SD WAN. Nowadays, SD-WAN has become an integral part of every branch office architecture. This is paving the way for SD-branch deployment. However, the major challenge in the market is related to management and governance.
The technical difficulties associated with SD-branch is anticipated to hinder the SD-branch market in the coming years. Other challenges to the SD-branch market are the low level of awareness about SD-branch architecture and the unwillingness to migrate to SD-branch. Since the market is competing with other adjacent markets including SD-WAN, branch Wi-Fi, and network security, the migration to SD-branch among enterprises is expected to take time. The migration to SD-branch is largely about simplification and consolidation of the discrete branch network functionality. Therefore, the migration would be largely due to the need for a centralized operation. The solution to the challenge of lack of awareness about SD-branch or hesitation in migration to this architecture could be various pilot projects. IT firms can gain expertise by running small pilot projects on SD-branch technology.