In the commercial world, SD-WAN has reached maturity among enterprise customers. First generation SD-WAN is being replaced by second generation, and cloud-based or cloud-integrated SD-WAN solutions have emerged providing more customer options. Across the fence in the federal world, the thinking is still that "SD-WAN is not for us." 

With SD-WAN becoming the center of both unified networks and Zero Trust security architectures, it's time that myth gets busted. In fact, the timing couldn't be better. Technology maturity within the federal space follows cycles. One of which is the typical adoption timeline for federal agencies versus commercial customers -- specifically, an eight-year adoption lag compared to the commercial space. A cycle long enough for technology to mature and experience at least one major evolution. The year 2020 is the eight-year milestone for SD-WAN adoption.

Cisco SD-WAN for Government comes eight years after enterprise SD-WAN adoption.
Cisco SD-WAN for Government comes eight years after enterprise SD-WAN adoption. 

This speaks directly to the first part of our myth: "SD-WAN is not ready." SD-WAN is a proven second-generation technology. It's a technology that has become more robust, adding target use cases as it matured. SD-WAN has grown from simplified site connectivity to a full featured integration point for network visibility and security

The second reason the timing is perfect addresses the second part of our myth: "SD-WAN isn't FedRAMP Authorized." Cisco's SD-WAN for Government has recently been FedRAMP authorized. This means as-a-service SD-WAN and all its benefits will be available for agencies requiring Moderate Impact Level FedRAMP authorization. This qualification timing aligns perfectly to the maturity readiness for SD-WAN in our federal world.

Cisco's SD-WAN for Government goes beyond Moderate Impact Level authorization with added features specifically designed for the federal mission: features like self-service, automation, security, auditing and logging. As a cloud-native solution, WAN control is returned to your team as-a-service without additional management overhead -- all while reducing costs.

These features were built to address the third part of our myth: "SD-WAN is complex to manage." The native visibility benefits of SD-WAN, coupled with extensive security integrations, allow SD-WAN to streamline network operations. These operational benefits are amplified by the cloud service delivery model of SD-WAN for Government. This model removes the overhead of managing the WAN devices themselves. Finally, Cisco has layered these benefits under a self-service portal, putting them at the fingertips of the operators who need them. 

There's one last piece of the myth worth mentioning: "SD-WAN isn't for multicloud." The origin of this myth is first generation SD-WAN solutions focused primarily on on-site connectivity and path preference across disparate links: MPLS, satellite, 5G, broadband, etc. Second generation SD-WAN solutions, like Cisco SD-WAN for government, provide seamless integration with public cloud SaaS and IaaS services, making it the ideal tool for providing an on and off ramp to the multicloud environment. 

SD-WAN for Government provides cloud on-ramp integration with Microsoft, Amazon and Google government clouds including Microsoft Office 365. This centralizes visibility and quality of experience controls for all apps, on- or off-premises. That same centralized visibility becomes the foundation of an entire suite of security integrations. These on-ramp capabilities can be strategically placed into federally approved co-location environments for the best combination of price and performance.

The timing for a FedRAMP approved SD-WAN cloud is ideal. As the federal government expands the use of public cloud infrastructure and software, SD-WAN plays a critical role. That role is providing centralized visibility and manageability along with enhanced security tooling and integrations. The as-a-service cloud delivery model ensures that the benefits do not come with heavy operational cost increases.

Now is the ideal time for agencies to begin testing and deploying SD-WAN solutions. Whether the goal is enhanced visibility, reduced operational costs, increased security or multicloud connectivity, SD-WAN plays a critical role in broader operational change.