After years of hype and market talk, 5G looks set to arrive on Singapore's shores within the next year or so. Just a few months ago, engineers in Singapore and Australia successfully conducted the first-ever augmented reality video call between the two countries.

This is a significant milestone in Singapore's journey to becoming a 5G ecosystem. Apart from industry commitments set at the recent Mobile World Congress, Singapore's Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran has also re-affirmed 2020 as the expected rollout date for nationwide 5G coverage here in Singapore.

While 5G brings with it the immense possibilities of Industry 4.0, self-driving cars, smart cities and the like, it also brings with it significant stresses on the digital infrastructure powering all these applications. How can organisations and infrastructure providers best prepare themselves for the expected onslaught of millions, and even billions, of connected devices and smart 'things'?

Traditional wide-area network (WAN) configurations are simply unable to afford the agility and flexibility that should accompany a 5G ecosystem. Furthermore, 5G will have to support a larger range of applications as compared to 4G due to the proliferation of 5G-enabled robotics, IoT and connected devices. The scale and demand on 5G will require a new way of looking at network configurations, one that encompasses the plethora of new technologies that 5G complements such as cloud, security, virtualization and automation.

Enter software-defined wide-area networks (SD-WAN). The SD-WAN architecture decouples the networking hardware from its control mechanism using virtualization technology instead to set policies and prioritize traffic around the network. However, expectations for SD-WAN have grown to much more than just a router with a graphical user interface (GUI). Businesses nowadays are increasingly looking into multi-service SD-WANs such as SD-WAN plus SD-Security, SD-WAN plus WAN optimization, etc.

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