Introducing SD-WAN, a lower-cost solution that is proving to work faster and smarter for many organisations.

Traditionally, a Wide Area Network (WAN), is a network that exists across a large-scale geographical area and works through dedicated hardware within an Internet Service Provider’s network. WAN allows users to connect from anywhere and from any device, across multiple locations.

Prior to SD-WAN, MPLS has been the widely used form for enterprise, that provides a dedicated private network between an organisation’s various sites.

But the world of business is changing as more users expect seamless access to content that could exist across multiple clouds and multiple sites, even spanning across different countries. SD-WAN has evolved to meet these changes and has been set up to better control wider network areas. As a low-cost solution, SD-WAN is proving to work faster and also smarter for many organisations.

How does SD-WAN work?

Deciding whether to adopt SD-WAN begins by first understanding how it works.

A traditional WAN works through a mass of interconnected routers across longer distances. Within this exists the Data Plane, which carries the information that needs to be delivered, and a Control Plane which is set up with a collection of rules to determine how and where the data will travel to. This is both complex and time-consuming to set up, configuring these rules for each router is achieved through the Command Line Interface (CLI). Therefore, if any mistake is made, it can critically affect a business.

This is one of the primary reasons why SD-WAN has been created, to simplify this process. Software-defined, the WAN is managed from a central web-based portal where all the rules can be centralised on the Control Plane and configured into relevant groups. These rules, known as Business Defined Rules (BDR), can then be easily defined across the entire WAN network and allows for plug and play provisioning of new sites. This then opens up accessibility to the public cloud and broadband, no longer needing to rely solely on MPLS.

As a result, SD-WAN makes it far simpler, cost-effective and reliable for an organisation to manage its network.

Exploring the benefits

SD-WAN simplifies the flow of information within a network by creating business defined rules, all from a central software portal. This solution benefits an organisation by removing expensive agreements with large telcos and the time spent configuring, instead of creating connectivity through the cloud.

By operating via automatic software capabilities (instead of manual human configuration), the WAN is able to work across standard broadband connections rather than solely through expensive private networks. This leverages multiple paths, thereby increasing performance and overall accessibility. As SD-WAN allows an organisation to mix and match between MPLS, Internet Broadband such as NBN and wireless LTE, there exist greater flexibilities across the network. For example, less sensitive data can run through public connections while critical information is left to run via an MPLS.

The control over the flow of traffic in the network also benefits security capabilities, as SD-WAN ensures security through end-to-end data encryption. Without SD-WAN, connecting users securely to a public cloud is expensive and complex, where traditionally this was achieved through expensive MPLS links. With SD-WAN, traffic can be segmented and travel through virtual private clouds (VPCs) and virtual networks (VNETs). The control is given to SD-WAN to isolate how specific information travels to ensure security.

The future of SD-WAN

Any organisation operating on the cloud, with multiple locations and heavy user traffic is recommended to begin considering the benefits of SD-WAN. IDC’s SD-WAN Survey from April 2019 found that nearly 95% of the enterprises who were surveyed expected to begin using SD-WAN within the next 2 years.

Will your organisation be one of them?