SD-WAN is changing the network game for business leaders and decision makers in all niches. But what is SD-WAN? Software-defined wide area networks, or SD-WANs, are a software-based approach to managing wide-area networks that can improve connectivity to branch offices and the cloud while also providing ease of implementation, central manageability, and cost savings.
Over the last several years, there have been substantial advances in wide-area networks, none more so than software-defined WAN, which is redefining how network pros think about optimizing the usage of connectivity as diverse as Multiprotocol Label Switching (also known as MPLS), frame relay, and even DSL.
If you’re thinking about switching your business over to SD-WAN, you’re in luck. We’ve put together an in-depth guide exploring everything you need to know about SD-WAN:from what it is, to its benefits, to its use cases, to how to get started with SD-WAN in your business. Let’s begin by thoroughly defining what SD-WAN is.
What Is SD-WAN?
If you’re wondering, “what is SD-WAN?” it might seem complex to you. However, SD-WAN is relatively simple to understand. SD-WAN, which is short for software-defined wide area network, is a virtualized service that links and expands enterprise networks over long distances. WANs connect users in remote offices to corporate applications, services, and resources via multiprotocol label switching, wireless, broadband, virtual private networks, and the Internet, allowing them to work from anywhere.
SD-WAN analyzes and regulates traffic on WAN connections in order to maintain high speeds and enhance connectivity. Physical routers are used in traditional WANs to connect remote or branch users to applications located in data centers. Each router has two planes: a data plane that holds the data and a control plane that directs the data.
A network engineer or administrator usually determines where data flows by writing rules and policies for each router on the network, which is a time-consuming and error-prone procedure. SD-WAN decouples the control and administration procedures from the underlying networking hardware, allowing them to be configured and deployed as software. Network administrators can design new rules and policies, then configure and distribute them over an entire network using a single control pane.
What Is SD-WAN? The Whole Story from Its Humble Beginnings
So what is SD-WAN’s history? SD-WAN arose from the requirement to change WAN infrastructure to meet changing company needs while staying under budget. WANs were critical to the advancement of networking technology in general, and they were for a long time the most essential application of networks, both for military and business applications.
One of the critical driving motivations for the development of data communications technologies was the capacity to communicate data over long distances, which allowed for the circumvention of distance constraints while also reducing the time required to exchange messages with other parties.
Companies began to consider ways to use the Internet for private corporate communications as its reach and maturity developed. Application distribution via the wide-area network became a hot topic of study and commercial innovation in the early 2000s. Increased computing power over the next decade allowed for the creation of software-based appliances that could analyze traffic and make real-time decisions, allowing for a way to duplicate all of the functions of old legacy WANs at a percentage of the cost.
The move from MPLS to SD-WAN has started and is quickly expanding today.
Is SD-WAN Popular in Businesses Already?
SD-WAN is steadily growing in popularity, and its market size is continuing to grow. Just as well, it’s becoming more popular over less sophisticated WANs in businesses of all sizes and niches. We’ll break down the many benefits of SD-WAN, in the next section. In addition to these benefits, managed SD-WAN technology is a significant reason why the concept of SD-WAN is becoming so popular.
To put it another way, managed SD-WAN is more accessible and less expensive than creating an SD-WAN system from the ground up. A managed network service (MNS) is a business model that involves totally outsourcing (you could also just delete totally) networking applications and services to a managed service provider (also known as an MSP) or a communications service provider (which is also known as a CSP).
The service provider provides the hardware, software, networking, and transport services needed to deliver the correct application or service, such as branch connectivity, with appropriate uptime and performance service-level agreements with managed SD-WAN services (or SLAs).
The service provider must monitor, manage, and secure the WAN service. Pricing is usually determined by a one-year or multi-year service contract and can be complicated depending on the number of sites, locations, link speeds, and other SLAs. Managed network services are a common way for IT companies to outsource the difficulties of connecting their offices and branches.
SD-WAN technology has allowed a variety of CSPs and MSPs to increase their managed WAN service offerings.
Related: Top 3 SD-WAN Architecture Types
The Advantages of Switching to SD-WAN in a Business
When businesses make the switch to this technology, they gain multiple benefits. By joining one of the industry’s most respected providers, you can gain significant advantages. Here are a few of the highlighted pluses:
To start, SD-WAN boosts efficiency. SD-WAN can be implemented to prioritize business-focused traffic and real-time services such as Voice over IP (VoIP), and then direct it to the most efficient path. IT teams may help cut down on packet loss and issues with latency by facilitating critical applications through dependable, high-performance connections, boosting employee productivity and morale. This is business-impacting performance.
SD-WAN might also help to lower network complexity. Networks might become more sophisticated as a result of digital transformation projects. The outcome is not just a risk of poor network performance but also overworked IT teams and the necessity for onsite workers to manage local IT infrastructure at remote locations. On the other hand, SD-WAN can reduce IT workloads by simplifying WAN infrastructure, utilizing the Internet to offload non-critical business software, automating monitoring activities, and managing traffic via a centralized controller.
Look for an SD-WAN solution linked to the local branch architecture to bring security and management to the LAN’s core.
Better network security
Just as well, SD-WAN is also a great way to improve security. It’s a two-edged sword when it comes to digital change. While it might increase consumer happiness and business reach, it can also put a company at risk of serious security breaches. The good news is that many SD-WAN systems already include security. However, most SD-WAN solutions’ basic firewall and VPN features are insufficient, requiring IT teams to try to add protection after the fact to elastic and dynamic SD-WAN connections.
To prevent data loss, blackout periods, regulatory compliance violations, and even legal issues, look for SD-WAN systems with various integrated security capabilities, including NGFW, IPS, encryption, anti-virus, and sandboxing.
Agile cloud enablement
SD-WAN allows access to the cloud. Cloud computing is becoming increasingly popular among enterprises. SD-WAN allows for direct cloud access at remote areas, essentially removing backhauling traffic and allowing workers to access cloud applications from any location without adding additional traffic to manage and secure on the core network. SD-WAN also improves cloud application performance by prioritizing mission-critical apps and allowing branches to connect to the Internet directly.
SD-WAN is an excellent solution for enterprises looking to cut costs. The volume of data traveling over a WAN grows tremendously as firms adopt an ever-growing assortment of cloud-based apps, boosting operating costs. SD-WAN, on the other hand, can help cut costs by utilizing low-cost local Internet connectivity, offering direct cloud access, and reducing traffic on the backbone WAN.
Before making the switch to SD-WAN, remember that you can enjoy the benefits of this technology only if you work with a leading provider in the industry. SD-WAN is complex and can not be implemented on a business-wide scale without professionals. Choose your provider carefully. Look for features such as bespoke services, a wide range of managed technology solutions, significant network expertise, etc.
To summarize, the advantages of SD-WAN are significant. It can increase performance, improve security measures, lower complexity, enable cloud storage for businesses that need it, and can cut down on business costs. If all of these benefits sound appealing to you, you could benefit from a little bit of help getting started with SD-WAN from BCM One.
How a Leading Partner Can Help
If you’ve decided to make the switch to SD-WAN, you’ll need to invest in a UC provider that can handle a large-scale business-wide migration. BCM One is a seasoned and well-respected partner for IT executives across the country. We help with mid-sized, multi-site businesses to design a communications infrastructure that is full, secure, compliant, and cost-effective. Our staff can assist you in converting your company’s infrastructure to SD-WAN.
SD-WAN implementation does not have to be one-size-fits-all. Our services are bespoke– as they should be. Our greatest asset is our team of experts who have thousands of hours of experience solving problems. Our model gives you access to the subject matter and industry experts that few companies could assemble in-house. SD-WAN can be complex to implement, and our team will be there every step of the way.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can get your business set up quickly and efficiently with SD-WAN.