Customers and users expect applications to perform flawlessly without interruption, which is why connection issues and underperforming applications can lower customer loyalty and satisfaction. To address these concerns, many companies are switching to a new technology called SD-WAN.
What is an SD-WAN?
SD-WAN stands for “Software-Defined Wide Area Network.” SD-WANs use software to control the management, services, and connectivity between remote branches, or cloud instances, and data centers. The primary purpose of SD-WANs is to separate the data plane from the control plane. SD-WAN deployments can involve a number of different pieces of technology. For example, an SD-WAN deployment may involve virtualized customer premise equipment, (VCPE) existing routers, existing switches, and software that is responsible for handling networking functions, security, policy, and a number of other different management tools.
One of the most powerful aspects of SD-WAN technology is its ability to synchronously manage several different types of connections. These connections may include LTE, broadband, and MPLS. By effectively managing multiple connection types simultaneously, SD-WANs can optimize bandwidth use and keep traffic flowing at optimal levels and speeds.
What are the Benefits of SD-WAN?
There are many benefits of SD-WAN technology. Arguably the most important benefit is that it dramatically simplifies the way that large companies turn up new links at branch offices. SD-WAN technology also makes it much easier for those links to then be utilized. This is true for video, voice, or data. It has been said that SD-WAN helps turn companies “from fragile to agile.” SD-WAN has a centralized control function that allows it to carefully and efficiently direct traffic across the Wide Area Network. This results in greater efficiency and reduced costs for large companies that have enormous amounts of traffic.
In addition to saving money and improving efficiency, SD-WANs improve the performance of applications connected to the network. They also improve user experience by preventing bandwidth problems and preventing applications from slowing down or lagging. Not only can SD-WANS lower costs, but it can also increase profits and business productivity because it makes the business and its applications run smoother. This can increase the reputation for both, potentially resulting in significantly more customers.
Another key benefit of SD-WAN technology is that it gives a company the ability to load balance traffic across multiple pipes. Once a company has this ability, it has the power to automatically add redundancy into the WAN topology. Therefore, due to the added redundancy that SD-WANs bring to connection networks if any one link fails, internet traffic can be automatically routed to another link, preserving connectivity. This presents connection losses and lag, which is vital for maintaining high-performance levels.
How Do SD-WANs Work?
SD-WANs work by providing routing across the WAN, which is application-aware. The SD-WAN gives each application on the network the appropriate security policy enforcement and QoS. This is done according to the specific needs of the business that is using SD-WAN technology.
SD-WANs are created by generating encrypted tunnels between network sites. These tunnels are also known as “the overlay.” In order for an encrypted tunnel to be built for a site, the site must have an SD-WAN device at the location. First, the SD-WAN device must connect to the local network. Then the custom defined configuration and traffic policies must be downloaded to the SD-WAN device. Usually, this happens automatically as soon as the SD-WAN device is connected to the local network.
After the configured and traffic policies are downloaded, encrypted tunnels are formed between the devices. In some cases, a Point of Presence (PoP) is also established. The particular architecture will determine whether or not a PoP is established. Once the encrypted tunnels are established, the SD-WAN then begins to manage and control routing and traffic. The SD-WAN will monitor real-time traffic conditions and use the application policies to control and direct traffic. If any connection fails at any point in time, the SD-WAN device automatically fails over to the alternative connection. In this scenario, pre-configured policies manage the traffic load to prevent disconnection.
When it comes to SD-WANs, policy-based management is key because policy determines path selection. It also determines which type of traffic is a priority and how all traffic is steered and routed. Some companies have many different policies that function simultaneously to manage and control traffic. The needs of your company should dictate the terms of your policies in order to optimize connectivity and traffic flows.
Why Should Businesses Use SD-WANs?
SD-WANs are a powerful technological advancement that can help businesses function more efficiently and more cost-effectively. Many enterprises and large businesses now use the cloud for various applications and also subscribe to various SaaS’s. As a result, users are now accessing applications from the cloud instead of company data centers. Due to this advancement, traditional WANs are quickly becoming outdated. They do not have all of the functionality of SD-WANs and they are not optimized for the cloud. Essentially, the shift to the cloud is powering the move away from traditional WANs and towards SD-WANs.
Many businesses are switching to SD-WANs in order to increase bandwidth efficiency, to improve application performance, and to create seamless onramps to the cloud. In short, there are many benefits to switching to SD-WANs, and switching over does not comprise security or data privacy.
Conclusion – What is an SD-WAN?
SD-WANs are quickly becoming the go-to technology for managing traffic across networks. In the modern economy, businesses cannot afford to deal with cloud and traffic management inefficiencies. SD-WANs do for your network what an air traffic controller does for an airport– they manage all incoming and outgoing traffic and ensure the traffic flows in an optimal way, regardless of type.
Using an SD-WAN, instead of a traditional WAN, provides many advantages. Among the most important of these advantages is the fact that SD-WANs make it easier to run applications through the cloud as compared to traditional data centers at company locations. SD-WANs also have built-in fail-safes in case any single connection fails in the event of a technical issue, a natural disaster, or for any other reason.
If you want your business to function at the highest possible level, all while reducing costs and increasing customer satisfaction, then it’s well worth your while to switch to SD-WAN technology. Not all businesses, however, need an SD-WAN. If your company is not currently using the cloud, or if you are not having any trouble with the performance of any of your applications, then your operations will work adequately with a traditional WAN.
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