All new technologies hit the market with a boom, leading to widespread discussion, opposition, excitement, and in some cases, disappointment. Early adopters tout the benefits, but many are sceptical about the impact or reliability of the technology. SD-WAN is no exception.
Knowing the amount of hype, naysayers and potential misinformation, we wanted to put together a guide that cuts through the noise, making sure you are asking the right questions and have the right expectations of what SD-WAN can do for your business.
Very simply, SD WAN (of software defined wide area network) moves all the intelligence from the hardware (such as the routers) and to the software. Think of it like a new thermostat in your house. Previously, you needed to walk to the thermostat and change the temperature on the hardware (as you need to do with MPLS). However, with new technologies like Google’s Nest, you can change the temperature or build and set off planned timings programs remotely.
Verdict: Partially true
The cost savings by moving to SD-WAN from an MPLS estate are made by not needing very complex routers at every site. Since the programming on the network is all done at the software layer, you don’t need to spend on every site.
As there is still a cost implication for the software, the cost savings are maximised on larger multi-sites where high bandwidth, complex deployments (like running QoS or prioritising traffic) meant expensive routers were needed. For smaller businesses, there should still be a cost savings, but it will not be as significant.
Verdict: not true, but you may utilize it better.
As with any service, you pay for what you get. If you get a 100Mbps line, it will be the same capacity whether in an MPLS or SD-WAN deployment.
If you have had the connectivity installed for a long time, there may be a cost benefit to revisiting the costs, and chances are you will get more for your money.
SD-WAN does, however, allow you to make better use of available bandwidth. By understanding your traffic profile, you can not only choose what to prioritise (which you can do on MPLS) but you can do it much smarter way and in real time. You can base optimisations off algorithms or even machine learning. Once the intelligence is moved to the software layer, you also future proof yourself for any further innovations as changes are just an application update away!
Verdict: True; it can be more secure. You can deploy patches and updates quicker, but security is still a huge concern.
There are no formal deployment standards for SD-WAN, so the way the network is deployed makes a big difference. Many companies are using SD-WAN to replace MPLS VPNs that funnelled traffic to a central location and then passed through a firewall. Instead, with SD-WAN, you can push internet traffic or application traffic straight out. This means you need to know what applications you need to support, and ensure that holistic security procedures are in place at every end point.
"You still need to look at how you deal with security concerns such as malware, intrusion detection and prevention and user related security." - Digital Pigeon
If you are thinking about if (and how) to deploy a Software Defined Network, while ensuring you get the maximum benefit, why not give the TelcoSolutions team a call!
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With over 75 years of combined experience, the TelcoSolutions team has a wealth of knowledge in the telecom sector.
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