SD-WAN 101: Software Defined WAN For Beginners

If you couldn’t speak up about SD-WAN at your last seminar or business meeting, this is the article for you.

We’ll help you go from SD-WAN dummy to genius so that you never have to mindlessly head nod again while IT gurus discuss packet loss, latency and jitter.

To truly understand the in’s and out’s of SD-WAN would take a textbook and maybe even a three-month class in a lecture hall with a monotone professor. Truth is, most of us in the IT world don’t have that kind of time.

So instead, we are offering you the basics. Our goal is to help you understand enough so that you won’t be Silent Sammy at your next industry get-together. But more importantly to us, is that you learn how SD-WAN could shape your company’s IT infrastructure for the better.

Not only will you be able to ditch the mimicking head nod, but you just may be able to convince your boss that an SD-WAN solution would optimize your current MPLS network, cutting both your OPEX and CAPEX while increasing performance, security and visibility.

Let’s start at the beginning.

What is SD-WAN in a Nutshell?

SD-WAN, or software-defined wide area network, is the newest capability in the world of WAN. Software-defined networking capabilities can be applied as a virtual overlay to a company’s current WAN connection, which would typically be MPLS-based today.

An SD-WAN architecture can connect your branches and data centers, optimizing network performance, for about ⅓ of the cost of using solely MPLS.

One good thing about SD-WAN is that, since it is software, the configuration of this solution onto your current infrastructure is quick and easy, and can produce OPEX and CAPEX savings by up to 90 percent in a few short months. You don’t even have to have an IT guy (or gal) out to your site to configure it.

Why are Companies Switching to SD-WAN?

Savings aside, there are many other reasons companies are switching their IT infrastructure over to SD-WAN. Here is a quick rundown of some of the other reasons the IT professionals that we work with are making the switch:

1. Security

  • Encrypting network traffic
  • Segmenting your network
  • Having a central provisioning system
  • Increasing visibility into and control of your WAN
  • Optimizing performance
  • Securing any and all transport to enterprise and Cloud data centers

2. Centralized Orchestration

  • Central provisioning dashboard
  • Zero touch and secure deployments
  • Simplified operations
  • One-click service insertion

3. Network Visibility

  • With solutions like Silver Peak’s Unity EdgeConnect, you will be able to:
  • See clearly into your network to pinpoint any problem areas for a quick fix.
  • Troubleshoot without affecting your end user experience.
  • Make sure provider is honoring QoS by pinpointing where network problems are occurring.

4. Provider Reliability

  •     Increased network visibility allows you to make sure all aspects of QoS are being honored.
  •     Know if end user experience is suffering due to a problem on the provider side.
  •     Builds trust, and leads to quicker fixes and a better relationship with your provider.

5. Performance

  • Increased app performance for optimal end user experience
  • Assured application security
  • Managed on-ramp to the Cloud - SD-WAN provides on-premise view into Cloud applications.
  • Decrease in jitter, latency and packet loss.

                  1. Jitter – A packet delay caused by variations in timing across the network

                  2. Latency – How much time it takes for a packet to get from one point in your network to another

                  3. Packet Loss – Failure of a packet of data to reach its designated destination

6. Connection

  • An SD-WAN architecture is ideal for geographically-dispersed teams.
  • Increased communication speed between branches
  • Increased security of sensitive files across network

7. Scalability

  • Scale the deployment of your WAN as you grow.
  • Hybrid options: Augmenting your current MPLS infrastructure with Broadband
  • As traffic increases, you can move applications to Cloud or restructure your WAN.

8. Flexibility

  • SD-WAN working as a virtual overlay allows for hybrid solutions.
  • Dedicate some traffic to MPLS and some to SD-WAN and still decrease costs.
  • Setup your network in whatever unique way best suits your company infrastructure.

What are the Benefits of SD-WAN?

Benefits, small and large, of SD-WAN implementation range from increased security to decreased costs. The benefits will vary depending on your current infrastructure and your future goals.

In some cases, an SD-WAN solution may not be the best option for your company’s IT infrastructure. However, there are plenty of IT solutions that we specialize in at CTC Technologies.

The best way to know if you should go with SD-WAN is to start by analyzing your current network issues. Our IT experts at CTC Technologies would be happy to help you pinpoint trouble areas and find the ideal solution for you.

Another great resource you should check out is our Top 5 Vendor Reviews of 2016. This article will give you an overview of the industry’s top players and how their SD-WAN solutions could benefit your IT infrastructure.

Learn More About SD-WAN and Other Solutions With CTC Technologies

A switch to or integration with SD-WAN could increase your network’s effectiveness, performance and security while cutting your operational and capital costs.

However, our IT experts would be happy to help you find the perfect network solution even if you don’t believe SD-WAN is the right fit for your company. Feel free to get in touch with us.  

If you would like to learn more about SD-WAN vendors, check out these helpful resources on our site:

Speak up the next time SD-WAN is mentioned over coffee or in a meeting. Compiling this article with our site’s other resources, you should find everything you need to know about the benefits of an SD-WAN solution.

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