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Software-defined wide area network (SD-WAN) connects enterprise networks over large geographic distances to deliver an affordable cloud-based WAN solution that in some situations has replaced expensive T-1 or MPLS connections. SD-WAN focuses on delivering a business class, secure connection for businesses moving to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) cloud applications to further standardize between branch locations.

SD-WAN vs. Traditional WAN

SD-WAN truly is a cost saver for growing businesses.

Gartner (July 2015), reported a comparison of a business using WAN over 250 branches over a three-year time span. They totaled up the costs from this period for staffing Opex, Router Capex, and Router Maint/Support. The traditional WAN costs over 3 years came to a total of approximately $1,285,000, which was a startlingly high number to the SD-WAN expenses over the same length of time which was only $452,500.  This is the equivalent of $277,500 of savings per year just by changing from traditional WAN over to SD-WAN!

Performance over great distances.

Traditional WAN is clunky and outdated by SD-WAN standards. The traditional WAN relies heavily on the old hub and spoke network design which creates chaos for redundancy planning and quality of service as maintenance and changes are manually performed at the data center and branch level. Bandwidth is extremely limited and without direct cloud access to resources, the hub is likely to experience heavy performance issues. SD-WAN is designed specifically to take advantage of the cloud-based business world. The virtual WAN utilizes a flexible design that pulls bandwidth from collective resources to ensure high performance across the board. Businesses benefit from the easily scalable and cloud-based management model which offers central management via the cloud for complex traffic routing and application policy controls.

 SD-WAN Overview

  • What is SD-WAN?

    SD-WAN is an acronym for software-defined wide area network. It targets companies with many branch locations distributed far and wide throughout the country or throughout regions and for businesses that are moving their technologies to the cloud environment.

  • Is SD-WAN widely deployed? 

    Gartner says there are 500+ enterprise companies using SD-WAN with over 25,000 branches served by the technology. It has become a favorite in the retail and financial industries among others.

  • How does SD-WAN help businesses?

    Traditionally, businesses have struggled to maintain reliable internet connections from their branch locations back to headquarters. By implementing SD-WAN, they can share the local internet connections, bundled together to create a connection that is stronger than any one of them individually.

  • What is the biggest draw for companies using SD-WAN?

    One of the best things about SD-WAN is that it can manage multiple types of connections. For instance, it can handle connections as different as Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS), broadband, and long-term evolution of wireless communications (LTE). Gartner says it defines SD-WAN as meeting 4 criteria: “lightweight router replacement, dynamic and transport-agnostic path selection, dramatically simplified MANO, secure and integrated.”

  • SD-WAN makes changes easier.

    Without SD-WAN, changes to a company’s internet capability would require changes at the local branch, most likely with the assistance by a local technician at each branch. With SD-WAN, the company can control its entire internet system from one place (centralized management) without the need for a local technician. Therefore, adding bandwidth becomes an easy matter instead of a complication.

  • SD-WAN helps companies increase productivity for less money.

    SD-WAN automates configurations of WAN edge routers and directs traffic over multiple routes made of broadband, MPLS links, and LTE. As a result, the network created by SD-WAN is lower cost, reduces complexity because it routes and re-routes traffic based on the network’s status at any given time, and increases flexibility. Since so much of the SD-WAN automates tasks, your IT team will gain back the time it can better use elsewhere. Companies can realize a significant reduction in wide-area bandwidth costs. As businesses consider moving more applications to the cloud, they are re-evaluating how their branches connect to the network and to cloud-based applications. WAN connections have proven insecure but SD-WAN also provides improved security and application control over network traffic.

  • Do all SD-WAN products play well together?

    No. There are many SD-WAN products out there and they are not compatible with each other. Your selected software vendor will manage future software updates. Some designs are able to work on top of your WAN; others require you to use their hardware in lieu of yours. Therefore, we recommend you take special care when evaluating SD-WAN technology to determine which one best fits your needs both now and as your business grows.

Michael R. Durante

Michael Durante spent his teenage years into his early 20s climbing the ladder in a branch of a successful banking firm, starting as a teller and ending as a Sr. Branch Manager within 6 years. In 2003, he left the banking world to join his father and create TIE National, a telecom company 60 years in the making. Together, they grew the company from a two-man operation solely working on telephones to a multi-million dollar international business with employees in over a dozen states, covering everything from phone systems to cloud products and computer systems. You can find Michael on LinkedIn.