Networks are at the core of delivering user experience and supporting business initiatives. Many organisations with traditional networks are looking to optimise performance. While those organisations who are moving to using hybrid cloud have increased demand on their networks. In both cases the demands on networks are accelerating as organisations seek to support the delivery of agile, secure, cost-effective and high performing network solutions.The number and types of devices connected to the network are a major driver of network requirements. If we consider the number and types of Internet of Things (IoT) and mobile devices typically connected to the network, we begin to understand why traditional networks are struggling.This is where new technologies can optimise the performance, agility and cost-effectiveness of networks and transform organisational culture. Visibility and security – two compelling reasons for SD-WAN adoption‘You can’t manage what you can’t measure’ is an often-quoted phrase. Although it shouldn’t be slavishly applied in every business situation, when it comes to networks, visibility is critical. SD-WAN enables organisations to securely connect users to applications using any available connectivity option, such as MPLS, broadband and cellular, then it allows those organisations to manage network traffic from a centralised point. The ability to configure traffic policy, prioritise traffic and implement intelligent routing is powerful in helping operations optimise performance of existing network infrastructure, often negating the need for further investment in bandwidth.Many SD-WAN solutions offer built in security features, such as encryption capabilities, that can help prevent data loss, downtime, regulatory violations and legal liabilities, though often external security is required. Where a security device is available as part of the SD-WAN, this offers a fundamental capability which sets it apart from other solutions. IT budget for networks are flatWhile Gartner states IT budgets are expected to increase, at the same time, network budgets are roughly flat. This is because typically a large proportion of budget is dedicated to supporting running the business with a focus on providing reliability, cost control and agility. The forces changing the network landscapeThe surge in digital business initiatives means more traffic than ever before is supported by public cloud. This coupled with more applications delivered as a service and more sensitive data now in clouds than on-premise, means there is a shift in the network landscape. Performance requirements are more demanding than everAn increase in the number of operations which require near real-time access to rapidly changing data, means that low latency networks are rapidly becoming a necessity to support real-time applications. With data volumes continually increasing, this trend will not only continue but accelerate. The drive towards automationGartner states that by 2023, to enhance agility and reduce downtime, more than 60% of data centre networking operational activities will be automated, up from 30% today. Technologies like SD-WAN will be instrumental in enabling greater network agility, security and simplicity. The role SD-WAN can play in rearchitecting networksIT leaders are finding networks expensive to maintain and slow to change. SD-WAN can ease the IT burden by helping your circuits work harder and your network work smarter. Current private MPLS/VPLS based WANs are not optimised for hybrid cloud. In the future, management of networks will need to be highly automated, with changes taking either minutes or taking place in real-time. Technologies like SD-WAN will allow operations to optimise performance of existing infrastructure and rearchitect network infrastructure at a pace that suits the business needs.