What SD-WAN means for your business
What SD-WAN means for your business
There’s a good chance you know about SD-WAN, at least as much as you know it’s helpful. Somehow. But you might not know exactly what SD-WAN means for your business. We’ll provide you with an overview, key benefits and how it relates to your MPLS in this 5-minute read.
What is SD-WAN
In plain English, an SD-WAN or software-defined wide area network allows you to centrally manage traffic across all devices and branches of your business. SD-WAN architecture creates a network overlay that enables IT to remotely configure, manage, monitor and secure most aspects of the WAN, including edge devices and traffic flows. By abstracting the transport layer from hardware to software, SD-WAN facilitates traffic prioritisation, enabling IT to use lower-cost public and private links such as broadband and wireless alongside more expensive Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) connections. This creates a more agile environment that costs less, can scale faster, and provides central control over everything.
How can it help?
SD-WAN has a lot of benefits including:
- Good application control – predictable, high-uptime access for all connections with active links and user/app-aware traffic routing
- Better user experience – can overlay or replace all or most MPLS connections with cheaper broadband connections (with/without VPN) for centralised management & reporting
- More secure – with threat protection and policies built-in and real-time control & management covering NGFW, DNS security, and NGAV
- Cloud-optimised performance – designed to work great with Microsoft Office 365, Salesforce, AWS, Azure and most major SaaS systems
Does it have to replace your MPLS?
Well, no. In fact, some of the best installations just overlay SD-WAN on existing MPLS and prioritise secure business functions through the dedicated connection while more routine and general operations are handled over broadband. It’s the best of both worlds and cheaper than just upgrading your MPLS. It also allows for the deployment of SD-Branch technology. According to Network World, “IT organizations can rapidly deploy and provision a network branch-in-a-box solution for new locations. Via a centralized management console, they can control and adjust all branch network and security functions. Reducing or eliminating the need for trained IT personnel to visit remote branch locations results in significant cost and time savings. SD-Branch also promises to reduce hardware costs[…]” Regardless of your deployment, SD-WAN will allow you to manage everything from one central location instead of at the device level.
SDN vs SD-WAN
You may also be confusing SD-WAN with SDN. The primary difference between SDN and SD-WAN is how they are used. SDN has been used in traditional telecom and data [centre] infrastructures, enabling services on-demand, reducing high operational costs and improving network performance and scalability. SD-WAN, on the other hand, is a cost-effective alternative to the traditional Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) networks, providing connectivity for geographically dispersed locations in a scalable and secure way. But SDN is an old technology that’s not evolving as rapidly and uses off-the-shelf and bespoke switching hardware together. The only savings come from operational improvements with SDN. Unless you’re a data centre, you probably don’t need SDN.
If all the acronyms are getting a bit much and you’d like to talk with an expert about your infrastructure, get in touch today. We’ll help you make sense of your SDN’s, SD-WAN’s and your MPLS.