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What Is SD-WAN And Why Should One Use It?

Managing Wide Area Networks (WAN) for companies is easier these days than they were in the past. For businesses that rely on the internet on a daily basis, WAN are a godsend from the technological god. Especially if your company has dozens of locations throughout the country – locations that depend on reliable internet connection speeds and security. SD-WAN (short for software-defined networking in a wide area network) vendors are providing the market with the technology needed to ensure those reliable connections stay secure and reliable. Datacenters and branches, however, often suffer from application traffic over internet links.

This makes performances constantly unpredictable and making changes across those branches must be made manually. Not to mention the infrastructure of many single-function devices (connected via a multitude of WAN links) makes it a living hell for branch IT managers. Here is what you need to know about SD-WAN.

  1. What It Is

What is SD-WAN? How is it different from WAN? WAN can be used to connect branch offices with a centralized corporate network. WAN connections relied on unique proprietary hardware – which was difficult to maintain and expensive. WAN is dependent on datacenters, and has no direct access to cloud resources. This means that enterprise datacenter performance suffers dramatically – and MPLS circuits offer limited bandwidth for their exuberant prices. SD-WAN uses cloud-native private networks and internet connections, offering increased network agility – also reducing maintenance costs in the process.

  1. Market vs. Architecture

SD-WAN and software-defined networking (SDN) can be considered to be a part of the same family. This is because they’re both software-defined. SD-WAN takes things a step farther than SDN, since SD-WAN tech takes software-defined concepts and combines them with control plane decoupling (transferring them from data planes to the WAN). Gartner analyst Andrew Lerner said that “SDN is an architecture”, whereas SD-WAN is a “technology you can buy.”

  1. Business Drivers

Installing proprietary WAN tech is expensive and requires fixed-circuit software, such as the T-1 or MPLS. Software-defined WAN alleviates part of this problem by improving (and enhancing) secure internet connectivity. In a lot of instances, this tech uses existing broadband connectivity to replace previous expensive solutions.

  1. Security and Maintenance

SD-WAN has many capabilities, and security is one of the most important ones. This technology aptly delivers cloud-enabled, business-class and secure WAN connections with a wide variety of software-based tech. (VPNs are one example.) A software-defined WAN market is inherently more secure and reliable, considering the fact that maintenance costs are a lot less.

  1. Packaging

SD-WAN is made up of a lot of different technologies – which isn’t new. What is new, however, is how that tech is packed together. Combining methods of managing a WAN centrally and aggregation tech was novel when SD-WAN was introduced to the world. (As well as sharing network bandwidth across various connection points.)

Conclusion

Because it makes an “elastic” network, by providing superior performance due to delivering a network overlay with multiple links, whether it’s on the branch premise, in the cloud or in datacenters. One of the problems of SD-WAN is that it doesn’t guarantee redundancy. Its main premise is to pair a number of ISPs together to form a more reliable pair. However, if there is a congestion on any one of the ISP bundles, this congestion affects the other ISPs inserted into that bundle. Regardless, SD-WAN is inherently more valuable to retailers and financial institutions (or any company with a staggering amount of branch offices). This is because deployment is easier and central manageability is more time-efficient.


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Alexandra Dimitropoulou
Deputy executive editor at the ​CEOWORLD magazine. Writer, internet person, professional restaurant recommender, and native New Yorker. Passions: health & wellness, coffee, running & dogs.