How SD-WAN affects Latency, Packet Loss and Jitter

Are you finding it hard to learn the truth about what SD-WAN does for latency, packet loss and jitter?

If you have never worked with SD-WAN before, we’d be willing to bet that you are depending heavily on forums, blogs and reviews to investigate further before making the decision to switch to or integrate your MPLS with a new network solution.

Many IT managers that we have worked with say that shopping around the ever-developing SD-WAN world can feel like they’re drowning in facts, myths and indecision. It’s even tougher when you want to make the best choice for your company’s present (and future), and you’re up against a deadline to do so. After all, network issues don’t fix themselves.

If this is where you’re at, we hear ya. You are in the same boat with many of our first-time customers, and we want to make sure that you have a life jacket. An information life jacket.

This is one reason that we write these articles.

There is so much to discover with SD-WAN, but we don’t want to overload you with info so we are only going to cover the effects that an SD-WAN solution will have on your network’s latency, packet loss and jitter here. For more detail on how it can affect other aspects like cost, cloud applications and security, browse through some of our earlier articles.

For a more general look at SD-WAN as a whole, check out the basics in “A Primer on Software-Defined WAN: SD-WAN 101,” and if you decide to go with this type of solution, head on back to our resources to discover tips for painlessly transitioning your WAN.

SD-WAN on Latency, Packet Loss and Jitter

IT experts tend to group these three network snafoos together so let’s take a look at each one:


Latency is the the time that it takes for a packet of data to travel across your network to its destination. High latency times account for poor communication, work disruption and negative end-user experience, all of which negatively impact your network.

Many of our customers are curious as to how an SD-WAN solution will affect their latency times. Could the new software inhibit performance in this sector?

A good thing to mention here is that most SD-WAN software, like Silver Peak’s controller, sits outside of your data path so it won’t disrupt performance. If anything, the VPN overlay created by SD-WAN can help steer your traffic away from latency issues by detecting optimal traffic routes and sending your packets through these pre-approved pipes automatically based on configuration settings.

Delivering a clearer view into your network pipes, SD-WAN software helps you detect trouble areas in real-time so that you can avoid them when sending packets, allowing you to pinpoint and fix traffic issues quickly without disruption to your end user.

Many vendors also offer failover for TCP connections, including the traffic that is already in-flight across your network. This safeguard ensures that a failure in one area doesn’t mean a failure for your network performance overall.

Packet Loss

Packet loss occurs when your sent packets don’t reach their intended destination.

This also greatly affects application performance for the worse, which is especially a killer for corporations sending large and multiple packets over their WAN.

Your network may be experiencing packet loss because of things like faulty cabling, strained bandwidth and software problems.

An SD-WAN can detect and measure packet loss and account for it through actions like Forward Error Correction (FEC).

FEC, now offered with many SD-WAN solutions, looks at bits on both a physical link and network level. This software makes it possible to reconstruct lost-in-transit packets at the destination WAN link by sending a loss recovery packet along with them, which allows for this step to be avoided at the transport layer.

This automatic step eliminates TCP congestion, keeping your throughput as is or increasing it.


Jitter refers to a disruption in the data flow across your network and usually occurs because of things like network traffic jams, improper packet queuing and setup errors.

This again can be helped by a clearer real-time view into your network pipes. By increasing your visibility and allowing for a centralized management dashboard, an SD-WAN solution lets you remotely detect optimal traffic routes for your data packets and send them accordingly.

FEC can help in this arena, as well, because it accounts for TCP congestion and deduplication.

The idea behind an SD-WAN solution when it comes to latency, jitter and packet loss is simple: The better that you can see into your network, the better performance you’ll receive.

SD-WAN essentially puts your network under a microscope for you. From this perspective, you can better configure packet settings, automatically preventing traffic jams by eliminating unnecessary and improperly-timed trips.

There is some speculation that the impact of SD-WAN on these trouble areas is no greater than what you could get from WAN optimization.

SD-WAN vendors have been criticized in the past for making hyperbolic statements about what their solutions can offer. However, the most-reliable vendors in the industry are constantly inventing new software, included with their solution, that does combat problems it once didn’t.

The thing is, it’s true that you can optimize your network without adopting an SD-WAN solution and in some cases, going software-defined is not the best option for your infrastructure.

It is also true that we have seen numerous companies benefit from a switch to or integration with SD-WAN, which include increased throughput because of decreased latency, packet loss and jitter.

The amount that SD-WAN will help your network is unique to your company, but there are many great benefits of this kind of solution. A clearer view of network traffic is only one of them.

Top Features of an SD-WAN Solution

Software-defined solutions are sort of the “new kid on the block” in the WAN world. Companies like Silver Peak and Cisco are putting out new products what seems like every day, and an industry that was a short time ago ruled by only a handful of key players has now grown to involve many vendors and a lot of competition.

Most IT experts don’t think that SD-WAN is going anywhere. In fact, the industry is constantly growing and is predicted to continue to do so. The reason behind such popularity is no doubt that many corporations, including several Fortune 500 companies, are reporting awesome experiences with these new solutions.

Reported as the top features of SD-WAN are:

  • Lowered OPEX and CAPEX
  • Increased Security
  • Increased Visibility, Flexibility and Control
  • Increased Network Performance
  • Centralized Orchestration
  • Provider Accountability on QoS
  • Scalability
  • Ease of Communication Between Geographically-Dispersed Workforce
  • Decreased Deployment Times for New Branches

The benefits of an SD-WAN can vary case-by-case depending on current network architecture, type of network traffic and specific company goals. However, there is certainly a path to a better WAN for everyone to ensure that his/her network is working at its best.

We Can Help!

If any of the information presented above has convinced you that your IT infrastructure would benefit from an SD-WAN solution, we would be happy to help you figure out an implementation strategy.

We can handle everything from consultation to configuration, deployment and management services, and we recommend solutions based on your company’s unique structure and needs.

Fill out our contact form, and one of CTC’s trusted SD-WAN experts will reach out to you as soon as possible. Need a faster response? Give us a call at 734.388.4194.

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