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SD-WAN vs. Hybrid WAN

Hybrid WAN or SD-WAN: Which is Right for my Business?

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If you need IT solutions fast, shopping around the WAN world can be full of heartache. WAN. Bam. Thank you, man.

It seems like every day there are new vendors and new solutions each promising to be more desirable than the last. In fact, this industry is now booming with competition, a big change from having only a few key players for years.

There are so many solutions in the current landscape that a Google search will likely turn up hundreds of blogs reviewing, suggesting and outlining the many options available to you.

Digging through all of this can prove to be taxing, especially if you’re new to the technicalities of the new solutions or are up against a deadline to decide how to optimize your WAN architecture.

Unfortunately, we can’t give you all of the answers here.

What we can do, however, is help you answer what we consider to be the most important question you will have regarding implementation: Is a Hybrid WAN or SD-WAN solution the right choice for my company?

We already know you’re interested in a new IT solution. Now, you need to figure out which of these two will provide the results you want and will work best with your current infrastructure.

Once you decide this answer, everything else will fall into place (at least as much as it ever does in the IT world, eh?).

Looking for specs on industry-leading SD-WAN solutions? Click here to download our Top SD-WAN Companies of 2016 Comparison Whitepaper today.

SD-WAN

We have posted numerous informative articles on our blog, shining a light into all the dark corners of SD-WAN and trying to answer all of the questions that we hear the most from our clients.

A software-defined solution can vastly improve upon an archaic MPLS infrastructure by improving network visibility, control, flexibility, security and performance for a much cheaper price tag – we’re talking savings up to 90 percent in some cases.

Here are some top features of SD-WAN:

  • Cloud optimization
  • Network segmentation for improved security
  • Real-time pipe visibility
  • Optimal traffic flow
  • Central provisioning system
  • Decreased OPEX and CAPEX
  • Increased throughput
  • Policy-based decisions

Many of our clients are looking for an SD-WAN solution because they are tired of their current MPLS setup. Some of the main concerns we hear are:

  • Cost
  • Bandwidth limits
  • Data center-to-branch communication and control
  • Inability to migrate applications to the cloud

If any of these are a frustration for your IT team, it is a good time to consider SD-WAN. Since this solution is software-based, the implementation is quick and easy. In most cases, you can keep installment in-house.

Creating a virtual overlay on your network, SD-WAN allows you the flexibility to choose links, suppliers, etc. so that you can create a network that is optimized for your unique business needs.

SD-WAN is best-suited for:

  • Businesses interested in migrating to the cloud
  • Widely-dispersed, large networks
  • Companies with sensitive information that have security as a main priority
  • Companies sending large bulk file transfers
  • Companies looking to get rid of MPLS all together because they feel it is not necessary and they are interested in saving on CAPEX and OPEX

If you would like to learn more about how SD-WAN accomplishes all of these things, check out our blog, “SD-WAN 101: Software-Defined WAN for Beginners.”

You might be convinced that this is the solution for you. If so, great! But, there may be a few reasons that you don’t want to ditch your MPLS all together:

  • You’re in the middle of your service contract with your provider.
  • You’re comfortable with MPLS after decades of having your system setup in this way.
  • You’re weary of public data services.
  • You just really like having your information stored physically in-house.

If any of this rings true for you, it may be best for you to consider a Hybrid WAN solution.

Hybrid WAN

The great thing about Hybrid WAN solutions are that they allow you to keep some of the old comforts of MPLS while enjoying the benefits of the new SD-WAN.

As suggested by the name, a Hybrid WAN is a mix of Internet-based and private, cabled data services like MPLS. With this solution, you will send some traffic across your MPLS link, while utilizing broadband for the rest.

Normal, business-related traffic will still travel to your data center through your MPLS connection. You can dictate if you want additional traffic to use this route, as well, or you can route all other traffic via the Internet or a VPN connection.

A Hybrid WAN does optimize an old MPLS-based WAN, no doubt, but it is seen by some as a step down from a full adoption of SD-WAN. However, every business is different and for the reasons we listed above, you may not want to adios your MPLS immediately.

With a Hybrid WAN, you will still experience:

  • Reduced costs because Internet is cheaper than an MPLS link.
  • Reduce latency and jitter associated with going through the data center.
  • Increase throughput by offering traffic another route to travel to the data center.
  • Real-time monitoring to decide which route is optimal for traffic to travel across for the best
  •      performance.

Where many consider SD-WAN to be a step up is that it makes these decisions based on policy, meaning that you can now go to a “zero-touch” branch office (or central provisioning center) because you can now view, control and reconfigure branches from one software-backed dashboard.

Hybrids excel in optimizing your current MPLS infrastructure without getting rid of it all together, which may be the right decision for your business depending on your current setup and your future goals.

A Hybrid WAN is best-suited for:

  • Companies that still want to utilize their MPLS link for some traffic.
  • Companies that don’t have the need for policy-based traffic routing.
  • Companies that don’t want to move their entire solution to a third-party provider.
  • Companies that want to capitalize on their current infrastructure by using more broadband to reduce
  •      costs while increasing network performance.

Things to Consider

Both a Hybrid WAN and an SD-WAN solution are a step in the right network-optimization direction. Before deciding which is the best option for your company, consider the following questions. You can even present them to a board of decision makers, your boss or your IT team to have a diverse discussion about what everyone thinks will be the right choice.

  1. How much do you currently rely on MPLS?
  2. How much do you rely on broadband Internet?
  3. How much are you spending currently on capital and operational costs?
  4. By how much would you like to reduce this spending?
  5. What do you like about MPLS? Are any of these benefits that you don’t want to lose?
  6. How familiar are you with SD-WAN? Should you learn more?
  7. What do you see the benefits of a Hybrid WAN to be for your company? The benefits of SD-WAN?
  8. How many applications do you have?
  9. How much traffic travels through your network?
  10. How is your network performance?
  11. Are you interested in migrating any applications to the cloud?
  12. Are you expecting company growth? By how many branches/data centers?
  13. Does having data travel across a network provided by a third-party make you nervous? Why?
  14. What is the initial cost of a Hybrid WAN solution? An SD-WAN solution?
  15. What will the implementation of each solution will be the easiest to configure with your current infrastructure?

After you run through these questions, and any others that you can come up with, you will have a better idea of where you stand and which solution is best for you. A lot of this depends on your current architecture.

Because of things like initial installment costs or IT changes that are needed to get from where you are now to an optimized solution, the savings overtime may not make up for the switch. This is a decision truly unique to each company.

That being said, we have no doubt that you can find a WAN solution in your budget that will help you achieve your goals. We can help.

Looking for specs on industry-leading SD-WAN solutions? Click here to download our Top SD-WAN Companies of 2016 Comparison Whitepaper today.

Let CTC Technologies Help you Decide

At CTC Technologies, we specialize in curing your MPLS blues by informing you about the best options available for your company. A switch to or integration with SD-WAN can increase your network’s effectiveness, performance and security while cutting operational and capital costs on your end.

If you would like to see a real-life example of the benefits of an SD-WAN solution, check out our free case study to see how we helped a century-old national book publisher push into the digital age with an optimized network.

Our WAN experts would be happy to help you find the right network solution for your company. If you’d like to learn more, please get in touch with us.