Software-Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) has recently become a hot topic in the IT world. SD-WAN offers numerous benefits for organizations of all sizes but is especially helpful to businesses with multiple branch locations. Many companies are virtualizing their existing WAN configurations and realizing the cost savings and operational efficiency of SD-WAN implementations.
What is SD-WAN?
SD-WAN is a way for your company to automate, centralize, and simplify your network management. With SD-WAN, you have cost-efficient, secure, cloud-based WAN connectivity that reduces the need to purchase expensive proprietary hardware and network transport. SD-WAN securely connects a business to a public or private cloud or to a corporate network. It takes traditional physical networking and turns it into a software-defined virtual functionality.
SD-WAN is deployed as a software-based solution or as a combination of hardware and software with WAN devices placed at each branch location. Each device is managed from one central location. All routing is based on application policies and security rules set in place by your IT staff and can be quickly revised as your network requirements change.
What are the Benefits of SD-WAN?
Lower Networking Costs
With SD-WAN, you can use the mode of transport that makes the most economical sense for your business’ situation, i.e. MPLS, Ethernet, WiFi and any type of Internet bandwidth. If you have some offices running on an MPLS network, but you want your new offices to access the cloud and your data center directly, this can be accomplished using low-cost Internet connections, while maintaining a high level of security. SD-WAN allows you to improve and expand your existing network infrastructure quickly and within budget.
SD-WAN helps improve network security in the following ways:
- Encrypted network traffic protects data as it moves back and forth from the cloud.
- Network segmentation limits the damage done from an attack to a smaller more manageable area. The SD technology immediately alerts your IT staff to the problem, allowing them to begin working on a fix right away.
- Central provisioning systems allows for better communication between all levels of your network.
Increased Productivity and Simplified Operational Efficiency
SD-WAN improves network performance and enables your employees to connect to their cloud-based software and files faster. It provides the ability to maintain a responsive, redundant network. By using automatic routing based on parameters set by your IT staff, if the Internet connection goes down in one office, the SD-WAN can re-route Internet traffic and VoIP phone service utilizing the network connection of another location.
SD-WAN also eliminates the need to employ IT staff at each branch location. Once the pre-configured SD-WAN device is connected at your branch site, it should come online, configure itself and be running within minutes. Your corporate IT staff can then manage each location using a software-defined management application.
Improved Voice Quality
SD-WAN is just as useful to companies with one location as it is for those with multiple locations. By implementing two or more Internet connections from different providers, SD-WAN can dramatically improve the quality of your VoIP calls. SD-WANs use application-based routing to direct voice traffic across the most favorable path. Additionally, by implementing an SD-WAN solution that features Forward Error Correction (FEC), you can improve your voice quality by compensating for packet loss. Lost packets are reconfigured and packets that are delivered out of order will be reduced.
Increased Network Speed
Network performance is crucial for unified communications and business applications. Some network traffic needs to move quicker than other traffic. SD-WAN has the ability to steer the traffic of applications and different users onto applicable paths. SD-WAN can also automatically re-route traffic onto a different path when the current path becomes overcrowded.
SD-WAN has many appealing features. The value of SD-WAN on its own is clear. Organizations are not only saving money, but also benefiting from increased business agility and employee productivity.