This article is based on content from the Telstra Ultimate SD-WAN Guide – a comprehensive guide containing 40+ pages of handy tips, pitfalls to avoid, security risks to be aware of, lessons learned and more. Download now.
Many of the core tools, applications and solutions that modern enterprises use today to manage operations, get work done, unite dispersed teams and serve customers are based in the cloud.
While traditional WANs using private networks excel at secure, high performance inter-branch connectivity, the need for cloud connectivity has forced CIOs and IT Managers to reappraise their networks setup and turn to Internet services for lower cost bandwidth.
This is often where SD-WAN enters the digital transformation conversation – how it could help businesses save cost by leveraging hybrid connectivity.
But according to Omdia’s “Enterprise Networks Services Insights 2020”, 68% of businesses which have adopted SD-WAN cited Security as the most valuable benefit, followed by Performance – leaving Cost Savings as the lowest valued benefit.
So if you’re building a business case for SD-WAN in your organisation, there are a range of business benefits of SD-WAN to cite beyond just cost savings.
We have highlighted these four use cases in the Telstra Ultimate SD-WAN Guide:
1. Application performance
The explosion of WAN traffic caused by cloud adoption means private circuits become clogged with Internet-destined traffic, degrading application performance and increasing transport costs. Many organisations are using direct Internet breakouts from branch sites to reduce latency. However, if these complex hybrid networks are not managed effectively, businesses can still see poor application performance.
SD-WAN can help maintain peak performance through its ability to create a logical network over the top of any transport type with application-aware performance policies to decide routing over the most appropriate path. If thresholds for latency, packet loss or jitter are not met, the application traffic is sent onto the next best path.
2. Business resiliency
Branch site and application availability are more critical than ever as businesses serve customers digitally. Downtime means lost customers and revenue.
The cost of downtime for highly important applications: US$67,651 
Organisations can improve their resiliency by implementing carriage diversity to ensure they have redundancy in case of a fault. SD-WAN gives network operators the ability to control multiple access paths and automatically switch traffic between different paths in the event of a fault or poor performance on one path.
Network operators may also gain better visibility into cloud and application traffic with services routed through the SD-WAN overlay. Alarms and alerts help to identify potential problems before they escalate into business disruptions.
3. Payload segregation
As organisations add more internet services with different classes of traffic, there is a need to ensure networks are not congested with non-critical traffic.
SD-WAN can help ensure private networks remain available for business-critical applications by orchestrating traffic splitting via intelligent routing. Non-critical Internet traffic can be routed directly without congesting the corporate network, which also helps to control the cost of MPLS services.
4. Centralised policy control
In a typical private MPLS-based hub and spoke model, configuration and policy changes must be made on every device at each site. It is a time-consuming process and increases the potential for errors.
SD-WAN enables IT teams to manage site policies centrally, so they can change corporate network policies quickly and easily.
There are two main benefits for businesses. First, they can respond faster to new cyber security threats by updating policies via a single point of control and ensure they protect their sites.
Second, the SD-WAN control and orchestration tools make it straightforward to enact policies that would be highly complex in a traditional WAN. For example, network managers can label traffic from office collaboration apps as “high priority” to ensure adequate performance levels.
An outcome-led rather than cost-driven business case
Businesses place more importance on agility, peak application performance, uptime and security, and the control and visibility to manage it all than cost alone. SD-WAN solutions can help you achieve these outcomes.
As the four use cases above show, you can achieve broader executive buy-in for your SD-WAN migration by tying the investment to these broader objectives.
 Gartner. 2020. Gartner Survey Reveals 82% Of Company Leaders Plan To Allow Employees To Work Remotely Some Of The Time. [online] Available at: https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2020-07-14-gartner-survey-reveals-82-percent-of-company-leaders-plan-to-allow-employees-to-work-remotely-some-of-the-time [Accessed 18 August 2020]. n=127
 Weins, K., 2020. Cloud Computing Trends: 2020 State Of The Cloud Report | Flexera Blog. [online] Flexera Blog. Available at: https://www.flexera.com/blog/industry-trends/trend-of-cloud-computing-2020/ [Accessed 22 July 2020]
 Veeam Software. 2020. CXO Research: Legacy Technology And Lack Of Skills Hindering Digital Transformation And IT Modernization. [online] Available at: https://www.veeam.com/news/cxo-research-legacy-technology-and-lack-of-skills-hindering-digital-transformation-and-it-modernization.html [Accessed 22 July 2020].