You hear and read it over and over: today’s enterprises are bandwidth hungry.

And it’s true. Cloud computing, mobility, video, unified communications, the Internet of Things, Big Data analytics—these and other trends have all left today’s enterprise with an insatiable demand for more bandwidth.

According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index, IP networks in the US will carry 2.6 exabytes per day in 2021, more than 2.5 times the traffic of just two years ago. No wonder that surveys of IT professionals—such as the Interop ITX and InformationWeek 2018 State of Infrastructure—have capacity coming in second after security as the top networking investment priority.

The need for more bandwidth is a key factor driving the adoption of software-defined wide area network solutions (SD-WAN).

But it is not the only one, and it may not be the most important. Yes, we need bigger pipes, but if the past has taught us anything it’s to be prepared for rapid shifts and disruptions in the network landscape. That’s the real value of SD-WAN.

Traditional WANs are made up of static, point-to-point connections consisting of single-purpose network devices and appliances handling traffic in out of the primary data center. There’s a fixed network perimeter. In most cases, Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) was the WAN link of choice.

It’s a fairly rigid architecture designed for a world where most applications were hosted inside the enterprise data center and most employees worked out of headquarters or branch offices.

But that’s not the world we live in any more. In today’s world, there is no fixed network perimeter. People are working in many different places requiring direct connection to the Internet and easy access to applications and data that are more often than not stored in the cloud. Instead of just MPLS connections, businesses want the option to deploy a range of fixed and wireless solutions.

SD-WANS are designed for this new world.

SD-WAN is transport agnostic—making it possible to take advantage of broadband, MPLS or any other transport pipe. With SD-WAN, you define a set of business rules to ensure that different workloads get the performance, reliability, and security necessary for the successful operation of the business.

The result is more bandwidth, but even more important: more flexibility, allowing you to configure your network with the appropriate Quality of Service (QoS) for any type of traffic.

At SMI, we are working with clients who are taking a new look at their network infrastructures, not simply for bigger pipes but to get a network better adapted to the performance that is critical to their business success.