The core idea behind the traditional Wide Area Network (WAN) was to allow users to connect to a server in the data centre. However, this technology fails to match up to the explosion of WAN traffic as a result of cloud-based applications and services.
Further, with SaaS tools in multiple clouds, the end-user's experience with traditional WANs is poor.
Also, managing security requirements on a broadband-enabled WAN creates difficult challenges for the IT teams as they need to balance security with user experience. The new-age multi-cloud-based applications needed more from the network.
Software-Defined Wide Area Network or SD-WAN addresses these challenges. The technology allows businesses to prioritise crucial traffic and connect directly to multi-cloud resources. It helps improve the performance and reliability of the network and makes the management of WANs easy.
This article will look at SD WAN's meaning in networking and its benefits.
SD-WAN Network Meaning and How It Works
The primary goal of an SD-WAN is to connect users to different applications regardless of location. Traditionally, applications were hosted in datacentres and routers were used to connect users to them. IT teams would manually write policies and rules controlling how data would move along the network. This was time-consuming and prone to errors.
SD-WANs were designed to help solve most of the challenges traditional WANs face in a cloud environment. They are based on software and not hardware. Further, they can adapt to changing conditions and are more secure and reliable than traditional WANs.
SD-WANs use various links like broadband, the internet, MPLS, wireless, and VPNs to connect users to remote applications. They can also monitor WAN connections and manage traffic to optimise speed and performance.
In an SD-WAN, there is a central control function to manage traffic. This allows IT administrators to write policies once and deploy them across the network. SD-WANs are software-based and not attached to hardware to boost service delivery and make network management more efficient. Further, they can switch between different types of connections like LTE, broadband, MPLS, etc., resulting in better performance and more redundancy.
Benefits of SD-WAN
SD-WANs have evolved as a transformative technology and have revolutionised the way organisations manage their wide area networks. This section will look at some fundamental advantages of opting for an SD-WAN.
Even if you have a single-branch office but rely heavily on cloud-based applications, an SD-WAN can be a boon. Here is a quick look at the benefits offered by an SD-WAN:
- Simplifies Operations: As network requirements change, network administrators can change security and access rules centrally in no time. Also, the automated deployment process simplifies provision for all locations.
- Improves WAN Connectivity: SD-WANs allow you to connect using any internet service provider. You can also have different providers at different locations. This helps improve WAN connectivity.
- Boosts Performance: SD-WANs are performance-oriented. They have automatic provisioning of application policies, making it easier to sync with the requirements of the business. They also intelligently steer traffic based on SLAs to ensure optimum performance. Further, the central control function allows administrators to monitor performance and move to better-performing links if performance degradation occurs.
- Saves Costs: MPLS, used by traditional WANs, is an expensive connectivity option. In comparison, broadband is more cost-efficient. SD-WANs allow administrators to use broadband instead of MPLS to save costs. Also, SD-WANs are easier to manage and maintain compared to traditional WANs. This boosts its cost-effectiveness, too.
- Improves Connectivity: Traditionally, traffic was backhauled to a data centre to allow users to access an application. SD-WANs don't have any such need. Hence, businesses can offer faster access and better experience to users. Further, in SD-WANs, dynamic routes ensure that any change in network conditions does not affect performance.
- Boosts Security: Software-defined networking allows you to protect the network from security threats. You can authorise devices that can access the network, thwarting any attempt made by a hacker to gain unauthorised access.
In a nutshell, SD-WANs are designed to improve application uptime and business agility. They also help simplify networking and save costs. With a centralised console, administrators have better control over the network and ensure optimum performance.
This, coupled with dynamic routes and the choice to use different internet providers, allows them to offer seamless connectivity to users from any location.
We hope that this article explains SD WAN's meaning and its benefits. With a fast-evolving digital space, networking technologies are evolving to ensure that users can make the most of the developments in technology. SD-WANs are also integral in the growing Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem.
SD-WANs easily handle the increased complexity and network traffic due to IoT. Overall, they have established themselves as essential tools in the future of digital transformation.
FAQs on SD-WANs
Q1. What types of organisations can benefit from SD-WAN?
While SD-WANs can benefit most organisations, they are particularly useful for organisations that:
- Have multiple branch offices at remote locations or
- Use cloud-based services and applications extensively, or
- Are looking to boost network performance
Q2. Can SD-WAN work with existing network infrastructure?
Yes, being software-defined, SD-WANs are designed to be compatible with most network infrastructures. You need to check with the providers before migrating, though. Also, you can deploy them as an overlay and gradually transition to SD-WAN without any disruption.
Q3. What factors should be considered when evaluating SD-WAN providers?
Here are some things to keep in mind while evaluating SD-WAN providers:
- Security features
- Ease of deployment
- Integration capabilities with existing infrastructure
- Support for cloud services
- Vendor's reputation for reliability and customer support
Q4. How does SD-WAN handle network congestion?
This is one of the best advantages of opting for an SD-WAN. It is designed to dynamically route traffic after assessing real-time conditions. Hence, if it encounters congestion, it will automatically reroute it, ensuring optimum network performance. With cloud-based applications and services, this is a crucial feature that assures maximum network availability to users.