Times have changed, and enterprises are using the cloud and subscribing to software-as-a-service (SaaS). While users traditionally connected back to the corporate data centre to access business applications, are now accessing those same applications in the cloud.

As a result, the traditional WAN is no longer suitable mainly because backhauling all traffic – including that destined for the cloud – from branch offices to the headquarters introduces latency and impairs application performance.

SD-WAN provides WAN simplification, lower costs, bandwidth efficiency and a seamless on-ramp to the cloud with significant application performance especially for critical applications without sacrificing security and data privacy. The value of SD-WAN is clear. Organisations not only save money but benefit from increased business agility and worker productivity. It also enables IT to deploy new applications more quickly and accelerate time-to-value.

A Software-defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) is a virtual WAN architecture that allows enterprises to leverage any combination of transport services – including MPLS, LTE and broadband internet services – to securely connect users to applications.

An SD-WAN uses a centralised control function to securely and intelligently direct traffic across the WAN. This increases application performance and delivers a high quality user experience, resulting in increased business productivity, agility and reduced costs for IT.

Traditional WANs based on conventional routers were never designed for the cloud. They typically require backhauling all traffic – including cloud- destined traffic – from branch offices to a hub or headquarters data centre where advanced security inspection services can be applied. The delay caused by backhaul impairs application performance resulting in a poor user experience and lost productivity.

Unlike the traditional router-centric WAN architecture, the SD-WAN model is designed to fully support applications hosted in on-premise data centres, public or private clouds and SaaS services such as Salesforce.com, Workday, Office 365 and Dropbox, while delivering the highest levels of application performance.

Basic SD-WAN vs Business-driven SD-WAN

Not all SD-WANs are created equal – Many SD-WAN solutions are basic SD-WAN solutions or “just good enough” solutions. These solutions lack the intelligence, reliability, performance and scale needed to ensure a superior network experience. And remember, without a fast, secure and high performing network, enterprise digital transformation initiatives can stall because they rely on apps that rely on services that in turn rely on the network. SD-WAN is a hot topic and is driving strategic decisions within the enterprise. So, what is a Business-driven SD-WAN and why is Basic SD-WAN not good enough?

The primary difference between SDN and SD-WAN is how they are used. SDN has been used in traditional telecom and data centre infrastructures, enabling services on-demand, reducing high operational costs and improving network performance and scalability. SD-WAN, on the other hand, is a cost-effective alternative to the traditional Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) networks, providing connectivity for geographically dispersed locations in a scalable and secure way.

Both SDN and SD-WAN are based on the same methodology of separating the control plane from the data plane to make networking more intelligent. Architecturally they are similar in many ways:

  • Centralised management or orchestration – the control plane
  • Distributed data forwarding function – the data plane
  • Application-driven traffic routing policies

That said here are the differences between the two technologies.

SDNSD-WAN
Mainly used in data centresDeployed in branch offices and data centres
Centralised orchestration and controlCentralised orchestration, control and zero-touch provisioning
Separation of control and data forwarding planeSeparation of control and data forwarding plane
Technology has taken a long time to matureRecent technology but maturing very rapidly
Variations of commodity and specialised switching hardwareOff-the-shelf x86 appliances – physical, virtual, cloud
Savings come from improved operational efficienciesSavings come from leveraging lower WAN transport and infrastructure costs and improved operational efficiencies

Top Benefits of SD-WAN

Building a Better WAN with a Complete Solution

Not all SD-WANs are created equal. The value of SD-WAN for your organisation should provide:

  • Lower WAN OPEX and CAPEX
  • Greater business agility and responsiveness
  • Increased application performance across the WAN
  • Assure business intent with advanced application visibility and control
  • Robust edge-to-edge security and micro-segmentation
  • Extensibility to 3rd party products via service chaining

Choosing an SD-WAN Vendor

All SD-WANs Are Not Created Equal

SD-WANs are quickly emerging as a preferred solution for leveraging the internet for enterprise connectivity. There are several key foundational components that come with an SD-WAN, including:

  • Ability to leverage multiple forms of connectivity including broadband
  • Dynamic path selection
  • Zero-touch provisioning
  • Centralised management
  • Dramatic cost reductions

The value of a foundational SD-WAN on its own is clear. Organisations not only save money but benefit from increased business agility and worker productivity. It also enables IT to deploy new applications more quickly and accelerate time-to-value.

To achieve the maximum benefit from an SD-WAN, it’s important to fully investigate your options before selecting a specific SD-WAN solution. The question should not simply be: “How can I deploy an SD-WAN?” It should be: “How can I build a better WAN? One that addresses the new demands created by the Cloud; one that doesn’t disrupt my existing WAN during the transition.”

While an SD-WAN is a critical component of building a better WAN, a complete solution must address a broader set of requirements:

  • Performance – Deliver predictable application performance and quality of service across the WAN
  • Visibility and control – See and control all applications and data running across the WAN
  • Security – Secure and segment all WAN traffic and applications
  • Extensibility – Able to service chain other WAN services and route across the WAN

Moving to an SD-WAN

Non-Disruptive Migration is Possible

Adding SD-WAN to an existing WAN infrastructure couldn’t be simpler. During the migration, all existing WAN equipment, services and connections continue to operate as before.

We can show you how you can take advantage of flexible deployment models allowing you to add appliances, either physical or virtual, whenever and wherever new sites are added to the SD-WAN.

In other words, you can start immediately and migrate at your own pace, without disruption.

If you’re ready to empower your remote workforce, enable seamless edge-to-cloud connectivity and optimise IT operations, contact us today.