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SD-WAN 101: What It Is and Why Your Organization Need It

SD-WAN, or Software-Defined Wide Area Network, is a revolutionary way of routing traffic on your network, with many potential benefits for businesses. SW-WAN allows routing changes to be made at the software level, rather than directly at the router.  This reduces the costs of the routers, and allows for much more flexibility and control.  But is it right for your organization? How can you take advantage of it? Here’s a guide to what it is, how it could benefit your business, and the main factors you need to consider before deploying it.

What Is SD-WAN?

SD-WAN is the most recent capability in WAN that simplifies connectivity between your branch offices and remote locations. If your organization has a Wide Area Network, which is probably MPLS-based, software-defined networking capabilities can be applied to it as a virtual overlay.

Using an SD-WAN architecture, you can connect your data centers and branches and boost the performance of your network for less than it would cost to use MPLS alone. You can also configure SD-WAN onto your infrastructure quickly and easily, which can lead to big savings.

Benefits of SD-WAN

Many companies are now switching their IT infrastructure to SD-WAN. As mentioned, there are cost benefits to consider, but there are many other potential benefits.

  • Better Security: Network traffic is encrypted and the network is segmented to improve security when sending sensitive files.
  • Improved Performance: Applications (like voice or video) can be prioritized ensuring a better experience for end users.
  • Reduced CAPEX and OPEX: Simpler routers, and a more centralized control mean huge savings.
  • More Flexibility: Customize the bandwidth and roll out network wide updates from a single point of control.
  • Scalable: As you grow, you can scale its deployment when your traffic increases.

Simran Kaur, CEO of Pounce Marketing, says: "SD-WAN means Software Defined WAN (Wide Area Networking). This literally means that network traffic is controlled by software on a standard server, as opposed to the traditional network hardware.

"One of the major benefits here of SD WAN is the efficiencies in the speed of setup. Where processes that would traditionally require extensive hardware and lengthy lead times can now be spun up, tested , deployed and business ready in days.

"The benefits also extend past the efficiencies in time and cost. SD WAN enables multiple WAN links in order enable QoS (Quality of Service)whereas traditional WAn provides customers with a single link. The scalability of this has seen demand rise across verticals from education to retail. Large and small, enterprises have much to gain from SD-WAN, as file sizes grow and traffic from Internet of Things devices increases. Robust, QoS can keep the most-important traffic from flowing smoothly across their networks and addressing such issues is quicker and easier with SD-WAN."

Naran McClung, Group CTO at Viatek, adds: "One of the primary benefits of SD-WAN is that it gives businesses trust in their connections, as well as in the services that are being delivered to them.

"In terms of cost, organisations can now benefit from greater bandwidth, improved reliability, and a better quality of service without having to pay for costly business-grade internet services or a dedicated fibre connection. Smaller businesses can get more cost-effective consumer-grade services, which are combined with SD-WAN to give them enterprise-grade connectivity options for their operations."

Main Considerations for Deployment

There are a number of factors to keep in mind when you are deciding whether to deploy SD-WAN and how to best go about it.

For example, would you prefer to manage it in-house or do you want it delivered as a service? Compared to managing it in-house, getting it delivered as a service is much faster to deploy and the provider will also manage it for you, so it may be more convenient. 

Also, consider whether to use an internet-based SD-WAN deployment or a global private network. Internet-based might be enough for your organization if your branches are in a local area and the internet is of a high quality, but it could bring issues for global SD-WAN deployments. In this case, you might want a global private network that provides a faster response time and increased security. 

Consider all the factors that will affect your decision when deploying SD-WAN. These include the size of your business, the locations of your branches, and how you will manage the network, all of which have an impact.

Spend time reviewing your current system to find out if deploying SD-WAN will be worthwhile. In many cases it is, but it is not always the best solution for every business, so you need to closely analyze your setup and work out the cost and productivity savings.

Consider an SD-WAN Solution

If you are considering deploying SD-WAN, always analyze your options and spend time researching the different deployment considerations. If you determine that it can help your organization, plan your deployment and start taking advantage of all the benefits it offers.

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