A Software-defined Wide Area Network (SD-WAN) is an evolution of traditional WAN that allows businesses to leverage different networking options and transport services to connect users to applications. This includes the MPLS, LTE and broadband internet services. The SD-WAN is a better, more efficient means of supporting latency-sensitive applications. Enterprise customers can make use of this new network to increase network and application performance and/or lower costs, all of which contribute to improved user experience.
The SD-WAN is a necessary upgrade specifically for enterprises doing UCaaS or CCaaS, office 365, salesforce.com, Google (News or Alert), or cybersecurity. The article on “What is SD-WAN” gives an extensive breakdown of what this network upgrade is about and how it extends the capabilities of the WAN.
How Does an SD-WAN Work?
SD-WAN is a simpler, more reliable and cost-effective way to manage networks. With the right SD-WAN solution, you can design, deploy and transport services easily without implementing a CLI configuration, which would require the service of an expert. On the other hand, there are some SD-WAN solutions that require CLI configuration to function, which makes it more complex while requiring a certain level of expertise.
If you are using an MPLS network, implementing SD-WANs with it will cut your WAN costs. SD-WAN devices are capable of detecting the quality of all merged connections- MPLS, LTE, and SD-WAN- to route the traffic on the best path. The SD-WAN does this by using software and a centralized control function, after which the traffic is handled based on priority, quality of service and security while aligning it with the business needs.
For enterprises using cloud applications like UCaaS or CCaaS, office 365, salesforce.com, or Google (News or Alert), the quality of experience for users may differ due to the security measures applied. Some other cloud apps with lesser security measures may be less trusted. However, sending traffic directly from the branch, across the internet, has been proven to deliver the best experience.
Challenges of the SD-WAN
While the SD-WAN has been shown to benefit enterprises, increase responsiveness and user satisfaction, among others, it also has its challenges. This includes operational processes, due to the large environment and how it can be tailored to improve user experience without faults. Technical skills could also be a challenge, as a lot of people in the IT field have not been trained in this specific field. Due to how wide the tech field is, getting someone with expertise in this field might prove difficult. Cultural shift and the lack of operational tools could also be a challenge.
However, as technology improves, these challenges will be addressed and plans will be made accordingly to ensure users get the best experience.
The SD-WAN comes with a lot of benefits. It is also essential today, as networking professionals realize how traditional WANs were never architected for the cloud. Although the SD-WAN seems to be accelerating at a fast pace, it is necessary for increased agility, flexibility, operational efficiency, and a generally improved wide area network.