Software Defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) is a relatively new technology that is changing the way businesses approach networking. With traditional WANs becoming increasingly complex and expensive, SD-WAN is providing businesses with a more efficient, cost-effective and scalable solution. An SD-WAN is a virtual WAN architecture that allows companies to leverage any combination of transport services, including broadband internet services, to securely connect users to applications (video, voice, cloud-based applications, etc.).
Traditionally, Wide Area Networks were constructed using proprietary hardware and were difficult to manage and maintain. They were also expensive to upgrade and lacked the flexibility required to meet the changing needs of modern businesses. In contrast, SD-WAN leverages software and commodity hardware to provide a more flexible and scalable solution.
How does an SD-WAN work?
An SD-WAN uses software and a centralized control function to more intelligently steer or direct traffic across the WAN. An SD-WAN handles traffic based on priority, quality of service and security requirements in accordance with business needs. The conventional router-centric model distributes the control function across all devices in the network – routers simply route traffic based on TCP/IP addresses.
Some cloud applications and web traffic are less secure, unknown or even suspicious, requiring more advanced traffic screening. SD-WAN allows you to set a security policy at the application layer. For Example:
- Send known, trusted business SaaS traffic directly across the internet.
- Send “home from work” applications like Facebook, YouTube and Netflix to a cloud-based security service.
- Backhaul untrusted, unknown or suspicious traffic such as peer-to-peer applications or traffic to or from a foreign country back to a headquarters-based next generation firewall.
The intelligence and ability to identify applications provides an application-driven way to route traffic across the WAN instead of simply using TCP/IP addresses. This software-driven approach delivers a much better QoS (Quality of Service Experience) than what’s possible with a router-centric WAN model.
What are the benefits of SD-WAN?
One of the key benefits of SD-WAN is the ability to optimize network traffic, resulting in increased performance and reduced latency. This is achieved by using software algorithms to determine the best path for data to travel across the network. This allows businesses to prioritize business-critical applications, ensuring that they receive the bandwidth and performance they require.
Another advantage of SD-WAN is that it provides businesses with a more secure network. By using encryption and other security features, businesses can protect their data as it travels across the WAN, helping to prevent unauthorized access or data breaches.
In addition, SD-WAN offers businesses greater control over their networks. With the ability to manage their WANs through a single console, businesses can quickly and easily make changes to their network, such as adding new locations or changing the priority of applications. This level of control not only saves time, but it also enables businesses to be more agile, responding to changing business needs more quickly and effectively.
Finally, SD-WAN is also much more cost-effective than traditional WANs. With the ability to leverage low-cost commodity hardware, businesses can reduce their WAN expenses, freeing up capital for other business initiatives.
SD-WAN is changing the way businesses approach networking, offering a more efficient, cost-effective, and secure solution. By leveraging software and commodity hardware, businesses can optimize network traffic, improve security, and gain greater control over their networks. With these benefits, it is clear that SD-WAN is set to play a significant role in the future of business networking.